A Community of Brokenness

Chapter 13 – A Community of Brokenness
by – Jerry Sitser

My viewpoint of this authors words and experience in comparison to my loss and my life. Nothing more…..

I could seriously stop after the first paragraph because it is where I am today and where I appear to be stuck. You see when you have lost, you have lost hard, lost much, lost hope, lost love, lost joy, lost self. So when the author says “Loss is also a solitary experience. …like physical pain, we know it is real only because we experience it uniquely within ourselves. When a person says, ‘You just don’t know what I have gone through and how much I have suffered,’ we must acknowledge that he or she is entirely correct. We do not know and cannot know.”

For me that is one of the hardest things to understand both from the griever’s perspective and the very people who try to help. I find myself getting very irritated when someone “assumes” they know my pain. They cannot. Loss is so unique to each and every person. It begins way before the loss and flows through into the loss and breaks open after the loss and sometimes, the pieces are hard to put back together.

I find it hard to explain that this is something I have to face alone. Because I experienced my loss alone. It was mine to experience, not that I wanted it, but it was mine. I know it well, I’ve experienced numerous times, each uniquely different and devastating in their own ways. There is though a fine line between working through the loss alone and being alone. But it’s in the finding of the right people to be alone with that creates much angst for me.

Sharing my pain, my loss, my experience is hard to do. I find it makes me uncomfortable to have people share in what I find revolting to experience. Why on earth would I want to share it. I don’t even want it. But over the years I have shared it and I still find it uncomfortable, in fact, sometimes it’s  harder to face.

Interestingly enough people have helped me more than I could ever have imagined. Came to my rescue when I was at the bottom of my pain and lifted me up. My family came when I needed them. A few people knew instinctively when to call and when to just “show up” at the door. Those were the times when, as I look back, were the most critical to my recovery during those early months.

But there were others in my life that chose to stay away. I imagine for various reasons, I mean really why would you want to face mortality in the face of people you love while you watch them react to the very thing you don’t want to think about. As a griever you feel like you have “leprosy” as the people begin to stay away. Fall out of your life – creating more loss – more pain. Not intentional by any means, but the damage is staggering.

The community of brokenness comes from so many sources during times of loss. Loss is universal as Sittser explains. It happens. It’s inevitable. I know my community came from some unlikely sources and from places I didn’t expect. Some come because they have lost something at some point. Some come and go and stay just long enough to make  a difference. I felt a sense of calm much like the eye of a hurricane. Just hanging on the edge of insanity – life out of control and just waiting for me to burst.

I’m thankful for that community who chose to serve and stand by me during that time. I couldn’t have made it through those early months and years without them. But now I find I’m back in familiar, yet unwanted territory. You see my friends, my loss of Brittany left me blind-sided. It took the wind out of my sails. It blew a hole so large in my life that I felt the value of my life had been sucked out and into the hurricane of grief. That feeling is still present today. It wanes. It pounds. It crashes.

Sittser touches on a subject very close to my heart and that is this….the fear of loss again creates a dilemma for him and it does for me. The problem of choosing to love again is that the choice of love means living under the constant threat of further loss. And that is where I stand today. I can’t seem to move beyond that space. You know that space I’ve written about before.

“The space where I exist and the space where I want to be is paper thin.” – Malissa Moss

I feel I’m at a crossroads so to speak with moving forward or remaining frozen in time without hope. I know in mind that love is good. But my reality is I know love is loss.

I can read all day, Sittser reminds me of so many things I try very hard to believe, to live, to embrace – loss increases our capacity to love says Sittser, but it also increases the sorrow and suffering when loss happens again, and it will. Choosing to love again brings me such anxiety as I know it will also bring loss and more grief. I am not so sure I am ready for that. But I also know I am human and need love to survive.

until next time,

m

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It’s my way or the highway….

So here we are at the next chapter of “Traveling Light” by Max Lucado. Just traveling along with him as he writes his book and then reflecting how it impacts the grieving process of a single mother just trying to make it to the next level.

Chapter Two

I’ll Do It My Way – The Burden of Self-Reliance

Well just the title alone speaks volumes for someone like me. Raised without a father, a mother who worked her butt off to keep her family together and at the age of 7 taking the responsibility of helping to raise my 5 younger brothers. So I learned self-reliance very early in my life.

So often during my younger years I was told by my mother – don’t do it that way or you’ll regret it. But oh no I had to do it my way – and so often she was right. But I was stubborn and wanted to do things my way. No matter what. Oh to only be able to take those days back and have a do over. I should have listened more. Because you know what – mammas  – they are always right. Perhaps their message may be outdated – but the core message is the same. What happened twenty years ago still happens today – just a different medium.

Lucado mentions a quiz in this chapter to see how one might measure their self-reliance. So I decided to take this quiz and the results are as follows:

You can control your moods: You are always upbeat, never grumpy or sullen. Does this describe you? – NO

You are at peace with everyone: Every relationship is sweet as fudge. Love all and loved by all. Is that you? MAYBE

You have no fears: Teflon Toughie. Nothing bothers you. Does this describe you? NO NO and NO

You need no forgiveness: Never made a mistake. Square as game of checkers. As clean as grandma’s kitchen. Does this describe you? I’d say a resounding NO

So he goes on to review the possible answers:
You can’t control your moods – A few of your relationships are shaky – You have fears and faults! OMG I’m thinking I have failed this quiz miserably. But what he is really speaking to is that if the answers to these questions describe us – then why are we holding on to something that isn’t working for us. Good question.

Is it in our human nature to always think “we got it” – “I got it under control” – I can tell  you without a doubt that I don’t have much in control. I have found that over the past 3-1/2 years I have given so much over to God because I could no longer keep up. The failures were too hard to take. The pain and agony affected my moods and infected my relationships. Everywhere I looked in my life I had failed. I was a freakin mess. I needed God more than ever. That is where my life took a dramatic turn.

The day I realized I had no control and had to turn it all over to God was the first day in my life that I felt some sense of relief. The freedom of releasing the burdens I had carried for so long.  There is something freeing when you hand over all the garbage of your life to God and let him take control. You know like the song by Carrie Underwood “Jesus Take The Wheel”. I so related to that song. I needed Jesus to that the wheel – so I could lie down and rest. And that is just what He did.

Lucado goes on to rephrase the 23rd Psalm if one doesn’t give control over to the Shepherd and it goes like this:

I am my own shepherd, I am always in need
I stumble from mall to mall and shrink to shrink, seeking relief but never finding it
I creep through the valley of the shadow of death and fall apart.
I fear everything from pesticides to power lines, and I’m starting to act like my mother.
I go down to the weekly staff meeting and am surrounded by enemies.
I go home, and even my goldfish scowls at me.
I anoint my headache with extra-strength Tylenol.
My Jack Daniel’s runneth over.
Surely misery and misfortune will follow me, and I will live in self-doubt for the rest of my lonely life.

 

Wow – I don’t know about you, but I remember thinking some of those thoughts he out-lined above. I also know that I don’t want to ever go back to that place. But the humanness in us allows it. The brokeness in us allows it. The fear in us allows it.  But if you choose to turn it all over and let God have it. The fear fades away, the brokeness begins to heal and the humanness remains but lives in the light of the one who has made you to do great things.

until next time,

m