I’ll never forget the first night back at our new apartment after our honeymoon. We went to bed and as I laid my head down I felt something under my husband’s pillow. It was a picture of his dad. A picture that he had been sleeping with for years.
Now, I don’t mean to jump right into a deep conversation about tragedy but the ugly truth is life can be cruel. Sometimes we get hit so hard that our hearts feel like they will never recover.
I also want to preface this by saying that I have my husband’s full permission to write this today. He has read this blog and placed his stamp of approval on it. I would never share it otherwise.
My husband is my hero. He is a true general in the army of God, a walking testimony of a life that won’t give up.
But sometimes he hurts so desperately.
Sometimes he wants to quit and run and hide and not come out for a very long time and to be quite honest I don’t blame him. I have been there and I’m sure you have too.
So with all that said- let’s talk about the reality of life, the situations that we didn’t see coming and the path to healing that seems so far away.
I’ll start by telling you a piece of his story.
When my husband was just 15 years old he received a call that no one would ever want to receive. His biological father had just attempted suicide. My husband’s world spun out of control.
I don’t think there is anything worse than sitting by a hospital bed wondering why and searching for answers as you hold the hand of someone who is slipping away.
The answers will never come.
As my husband reeled from the loss, questioned his own worth, wondered if there was anything that he could have done, his little teenage heart filled with regret for not being enough to make his dad want to live.
As adults we know in our heads that it wasn’t about Ryan at all. We know that there were other things that plagued his dad, that he had lost hope and couldn’t see a road out of the troubles that overwhelmed him.
Our hearts don’t always get the memo from our heads though. Our hearts just plain break.
To be at such an integral age, barely a teen, no longer a child, definitely not an adult, but dealing with a situation beyond all imagination- Ryan began to withdraw inside.
He learned to cut off his emotions.
Trama often causes our bodies to go into a protective mode. He didn’t talk about what happened, he acted like he was fine, went along with his life like all was good in the world, but that picture remained hidden under his pillow. A desperate attempt at holding on to a life that was no longer.
The night that I discovered that picture under the pillow (I knew nothing about it before that). He tentatively took it from my hands and set it on the dresser. He told me that he guessed it could stay there for now. I tried to press for more information but it was clear that there would be no conversation to follow. In fact, it would be many years before any real conversation would occur.
Ryan turned away from God during that time. (understatement of the century)
He told me that he couldn’t believe that a God (any God) could exist in the midst of all the chaos and tragedy in the world because any real God would not allow all this.
Have you ever felt that way?
Before I married my husband I didn’t know any of this. I didn’t know about his dad, I didn’t know about his pain, I had no idea what was hidden behind all those closed doors because I didn’t know the doors existed.
I prayed. I didn’t know what else to do.
I want to tell you that God just healed every hurt, that he took all the pain away and that Ryan never has to feel all of that again but the truth is he still deals with that loss and will for the rest of his life. I’d be lying if I said otherwise and you would know it.
What I can tell you is this- God helped Ryan to recover. He came in and opened Ryan’s heart. He allowed the grieving and in the process he caused Ryan to have a compassion for others that I’ve never seen before. He showed Ryan how much he is truly loved, how it wasn’t his fault and how incredibly good Jesus is- even in the midst of the worst. He showed Ryan that a loving God does exist and although terrible things do happen, God has a plan for it all.
Ryan has a new perspective these days. He has come full circle.
So how do you deal with your deepest hurts? How did he?
One single second at a time and one simple prayer- “Jesus I don’t understand this, I can’t breath, I can’t do this, I need help, I need hope, I need something to hang on to, I think I need you.”
Ryan says that he has learned that God does not ever bring these things into our lives, instead he is the one that walks us through them. He tells me that God sees a big picture that we can’t even begin to comprehend and that God will not for even a second leave us or forsake us.
Talk about coming full circle.
As Ryan has walked through this life he has learned that what he goes through today someone may need to hear about tomorrow and that his own personal tragedies can be the very thing that saves someone else’s life.
None of us would ever choose to go through these situations but we don’t have to get stuck in them either. We can overcome. Jesus can heal, your life can have meaning, you can recover, you can be whole again, and your life most definitely has purpose.
Ryan has healed because of Jesus and in spite of the situation. If you are desperate for hope today, trust a very loving God who can help you through the very unloving world we live in. My husband is living proof that you can make it.
If you want to overcome the heartbreak and the pain there is only one place that you will find the healing you need. The Bible says to ask and you shall receive… so ask Jesus today. The road may be long but if he can walk my husband down that dusty old path of recovery then I believe with my whole heart that he can walk you down it too.
You don’t have to do anything by yourself. You have Jesus, you have us, and you can have hope- receive it today.
Love you all, praying for you today and always.