He and I walked the trails hand-in-hand with dew still sparkling on morning grass. Heavy hearts made for heavy feet where each step seemed a struggle.
We have a long road ahead with one we love so. Bipolar illness isn’t something that’s healed, barring a divine touch. It’s something that’s managed and remission is fragile, depending on unique response to medication and side-effects.
We could worry. But we won’t. We’re too tired.
We could give up. But we won’t. We’re too determined.
We could fall into self-pity. But we won’t. We know where that leads—the deep, dark pit of despair.
We know, though tired and sad, that ALL things work together for good. ALL things. And sometimes you just have to BELIEVE what you can’t yet SEE.
And sometimes the WORST things bring the greatest growth.
All the weathered and cracked and crumbled—all the dirt there falling out—all the mess. Is their holy purpose?
Yesterday, I considered the small pink flowers, not yet fully bloomed—the ones I knelt down and gazed upon, examining from every angle, fascinated.
Closed tight still, I realize how tightly a heart can remain closed by self-will.
And when hearts don’t open and reveal, we can’t tell who we are. We can’t tell who others are.
But today, when warmth of spring sun beckoned an opening, I realized something about life and the pain of it.
The heart is full, alright, always full of something. And sometimes the heart is called bleeding.
A bleeding heart.
They droop on their stem all dripping.
What do they tell me?
What do they want me to know?
I have cried tears in the past twelve days, enough to make my shoulders shake as he pulls me in close and wraps arms around and lets my tears wet his warm neck with grief uncontainable. Warmer than this sun on my back is his empathic embrace.
And I wonder how he does it?
How does he not weep like me, for his child now grown, more fragile still with yet another diagnosis?
His heart bleeds too. My rock is broken. How can bleeding and broken hold each other up?
I know this truth. Better two than one. And a cord of three cannot easily be broken . . .
Perhaps it just takes holding one another more than it takes strength or even words?
Two withered parents hold each other quietly—and we hold each other up—in times like these.
We know the beauty of bleeding hearts, strung together on the same stem.
Because bleeding hearts are open, receptive hearts.
Bleeding hearts have been humbled and softened, recognizing their need that delusions of self-sufficiency deny. They reach out and receive what’s so easy to give because giving means strength and receiving means weakness and who wants to let anyone know we’re weak and in need because then—then, we are vulnerable. And the weak and the hurting don’t want to risk the chance of being harmed because we’re already bleeding out on the inside. No one wants to be kicked with judgments or speculations or advice given from places people have never been. What we need is a holding—a hug, a quiet sitting with, a silent prayer to the One who is with us still—still in dark, weak, broken places.
And our fears? We fight with faith.
Faith calls us out of our fears and faith fills us up rich . . .
We jump into unknown waters where only surface is seen. And it’s in the jumping off—the jumping in—that we discover soul satisfaction and even joy of holy communion—a joining of others infused with the love of God. Because the true body of Christ is a pond full of goodness where trust is valued, hallowed. There, healing from broken begins.
She came home yesterday, after twelve days on that locked psych ward. For twelve days, we spent 40 minutes going and 40 minutes coming, all to be with her an hour at noon and an hour and a half at six.
We sure did get our fill of broken.
Broken hearts, bleeding hearts walking the hallways. Kind people who some would deem “crazy” just desperate for help—hoping not to be judged and discarded as worthless human waste.
My eyes looked intentionally into each of theirs. And they looked back. I hope they read me right.
I’ve worked in locked psych units. As patients’ therapist, I’ve learned and grown more from them—the broken—the “patients”—than they have ever learned from me, I do believe.
I’ve learned that when you’ve come to the end of yourself and you have nothing else to hold you together and you just plain crack up and fall apart—you’ve come to that holy place—that necessary space where one can start becoming whole in ways that most never, ever reach. Because it’s only those who recognize their poverty—it’s only the poor, the broken, the down-and-out, at-the-end-of-their-wits who can become rich, really.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus said it.
He knows a thing or two about brokenness—about poverty—about riches.
And in the upside-down kingdom of God, what most people abhor, God adores.
Weakness. Brokenness. Humility. Openness.
When we realize our NEED of God, we finally SEE God.
And when we finally SEE God as He is, we start to SEE life from a broader perspective.
Letting go of PRIDE heals.
Letting go of CONTROL frees.
Letting go of caring what others think, allows us to truly care for others—and ourselves.
And drawing so close—so intimately close to God—it colors our world in such a way where things we never noticed before become exquisitely beautiful.
And we are transfixed.
So I walked with him, hours before we went to bring her home from the hospital—from her locked away place. And I took my lens. Somehow, in just twelve days, colors were more vibrant, landscapes more lush, shifting perspectives gifted me with vistas of fields and close-ups of tiniest buds. A sand hill crane warbled above. A red-tailed hawk circled. Blackbirds trilled. Bobolinks dictated in their Star Wars R2-D2 voice to keep our distance from their nesting grounds. Field swallows perched on bird boxes and wooden fence.
The iridescent blue of the swallow, the contrasting black and white of the bobolink, the dipped in red tail of the hawk, the elongated neck of the crane, the intense green of the grass, the robin’s egg blue sky, the cotton candy clouds, the lab leaping off pier into trust, even the golden of what some call weeds in the lawn, the warm hand of love cupped in mine . . .
The great goodness of God . . .
Somehow, in the midst of our chaos and pain—smack dab in the middle of our broken, grieving mess—I saw that all is alright with our world, really. We will all be alright. Maybe not in the way we think we need or want, but surely in the way we really need and want.
So we can let go of our fear even when our hearts are broken.
And we can let our hearts bleed. It’s ok. It’s even good. And, with safe others, we can even let others see our bleed.
Because our hearts won’t bleed out except to encourage others to break out. We need to break out of our stoic silence that makes our souls sick to the bone.
He and I and our boys and our girl—we have been held in love that casts out fear—the love of God and the love of others. And it has always been so. But especially in the most desperate of times, our God shows His glory best. In our Red Sea moments of life—when our backs are up against the impossible and all we can do is cry out, “Help us God!”, we find our way. We find His love. And He sends others to minister—to bind up our wounds with hugs and silent prayers and cards and meals and over-all good-will.
One thing I know. One thing I’ve witnessed time and time again. One thing I testify . . .
Whatever comes our way has been sifted through the hands of our perfectly loving God. And our main goal in this life is to discover that, in Him, we have everything we could possibly ever want or need.
But often I think I could do quite well without all this pain.
I don’t know.
What I do know is that I’m rather content when I’m content and that I’d rather not work so hard if I didn’t have to. So maybe there is holy purpose in pain poured through love-sifted hands? Could it be that we would never return to Eden if not for the pain, if not for the longing, aching want? Could it be I would never seek as long as the “good life” kept me comfortable and in charge?
Who would be living in delusions then?
Self-will, separated from His divine will is what creates true delusion.
Maybe all trials are for the purpose of losing false self—less-than self—and finding TRUE self—completely restored to perfect connection with our Creator and each other as before our Fall into broken. Such is a revelation of the holy purpose of pain—still painful, but with hope for something better and beyond—for divine attainable.
I do believe, looking back on my 55 years, that I would never strive for my highest good and the highest good of others—and for the One who loves us all beyond measure—beyond what our mortal minds can conceive presently—if not for the ache. I would remain but a shadow of my true self.
So what do I know from a morning walk, hand-in-hand with my husband, hurting as we are? Bleeding hearts CAN be beautiful hearts, if placed in the tender hands of the One who created us in love. And bleeding hearts CAN be helpful hearts if we learn how to suffer well by being fully in the pain while looking beyond at the same time to embrace holy purpose.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2