Somehow I thought it would be different, that whole ‘growing pains’ thing.
In my youth and early adulthood, before the winds of change and the sands of time changed the landscape of my life, I knew that there would be times in my life that would be hurtful and difficult. I just didn’t think it would hurt as much.
I suppose I thought that a challenge would come when I was fully mature and prepared and armed. I would hear of a coming storm, and batten down the hatches, stock up on provisions, watch for the darkening clouds through the window and say, “Bring it. I’m ready.”
You don’t know what you don’t know.
What I didn’t expect was for the winds of change to become a hurricane, tearing at my soul with a force so horrific it would bring me to my knees and take my very breath away. I didn’t foresee the storms that would knock me off my feet, destroy my home, tossing me from side to side . . .and leave me clinging to a mooring with all my might, screaming and praying for the storm to cease. Storms in my family . . . in my son . . .in relationships. Storms I created and storms that were brought about by the hands of others.
And yes, the storm would cease. They all do. Eventually.
If you’ve lived a while, you’ve had them. The crash of waves, the screaming of the wind, the battering of your soul.
It is in the aftermath that I’ve learned so many of my lessons . . .where I’ve understood about the growing pains. I’ve found myself standing in the carnage once the storm is over, with destruction all around, raising my glance from the wreckage and noticing the gaze of the bystanders. And I want to say, “Wait. I can explain.”
A part of me always wants recompense. To make my excuses. To explain my intentions. To tell the truth when things were truly unfair. To have the wrong be righted, and to be vindicated.
I want my point to be proven, for the bystanders to nod with understanding, for the moorings to be shored up and the whole thing be tied up in a ribbon so that I can feel better. I need the clean up crew to move in and replace the siding, install new windows, plant new flowers in the window boxes and let the sun shine on the lawn again.
The truth is that many things in life are left rather fractured. I wish it were not so, but often there are jagged edges left just as they are, like a gaping wound that oozes. It is ugly and doesn’t match and looks out of place. And it is those fractured pieces that refine us the most. Learning to be at peace with brokenness is the lesson. It’s where my best growth comes in.
My sister says that God’s plan is always redemptive. His heart is always to redeem and restore what has been beaten, shattered, scattered about. Even as the storm is howling, God is actively working on the reconstruction. He is already seeking to restore what is lost or broken. My problem is that I don’t want it lost or broken to begin with. Therein lies my conundrum. But I am learning to see the beauty in the jagged edges. Those jagged edges exposed the deepest, darkest parts of me – the places I wanted hidden for always. To have the storm strip away the facade was painful, brutal, hurtful, hard.
But the winds of change and the grace of God do the work that they always do . . . the work of growing, the work of healing.
I am learning to allow the broken pieces to be seen, and to allow the balm of forgiveness to do its blessed work, and to see that it is better this way. For I know that I’ll be a bystander some day soon, and I’ll see a girl standing there, with tears on her cheeks, wringing her hands in the aftermath, dazed and wondering where to begin. And she’ll look up at me and say, “Wait . . .”
And I will smile. And put my arm around her shoulder and say, “I know. I understand. I just happen to have some ribbon . . . “