Thursday, November 19, 2015
Prayers from a Broken Heart
I have a silver filigreed heart locket that I like to wear when I work in the Toddler room at preschool. Inside is a picture of my oldest son when he was a baby. I have found it is good distraction for little ones who miss their mommies, when conflict is imminent over a favorite toy, or when the day is moving too slow for toddlers who are ready and anxious for the next activity. We talk to the baby in my silver heart, kiss him, tell him "night, night." It is amazing to me how much peace this baby in the silver heart can bring.
It was a gift from my mother during my son's early days. It is also a reminder of the heartache we experienced not long after he was born. He spent a week at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital for completely preventable reasons. I had never known pain like that before he was born. And my heart has never been the same since. Prayer for me during that time was a wordless scream. And my prayers for others now who are hurting has been transformed in ways that are hard to describe. I hold them, I hold their pain, in my perforated heart. And in my prayers, I find my heart pierced again by aches which have no words, only silent cries of anguish.
This past week I have worn my silver heart a lot, even on days without toddlers. It is a comfort to me as I pray for those whose lives have been touched by unspeakable tragedy. Like so many in our community, our world changed Saturday night. One moment we were enjoying a quiet evening at home, having just returned from celebrating the birthdays of our middle son and my husband's sweet mother. The next moment my husband was rushing out the door, with "I love you" on his lips and pain in his eyes. When he returned in the wee hours of Sunday morning, I learned what a whole community was trying to comprehend: a seven year old girl from the school where he is principal had been taken while her family was attending a little league football game. Her body was found a short time later abandoned in a creek behind the high school where the games were taking place.
As our country joins in support of Paris, mourning the more than 100 innocent lives who were murdered by terrorists last Friday night, I join my heart with those in our community mourning little Gabbi Doolin. I pray in hope that Love can go where I cannot, where words cannot, where only the most raw and tender heartbreak lives. I pray for the Healing Balm that, instead of trying to fix what is irreparably broken, joins itself to the hurt and despair. Only the Tender Mercy of a Broken Savior can travel to that place. Jesus became flesh to dwell with us even in our most horrific pain. And so I ask Him to.
I also seek to guard my heart. I do not want to allow the foreign terrorists and this one very close perpetrator of terror to have the final say in my willingness to be a vessel of Love poured out. I can see how quickly the fear and anger I feel toward this unspeakable crime can calcify my heart into an unbeating, unyielding fortress of distrust and suspicion. I want to be careful to let God hold the springs of my heart so that His Healing Love can flow. I certainly want to be wise as a serpent--I absolutely want to be wise to the evil intentions of those who seek only to steal, kill, and destroy. But oh, oh I want to be innocent as a dove. I want to focus my energy on being gentle and kind to those who need to see His Light and Life within me. So that they can know He can heal their hurts too. I don't want to waste the energy I have on hate. Life is too short; life is too precious.
I have a friend who says that silver represents redemption. I am so grateful that the memory of my darkest hour is wrapped in the silver heart I wear about my neck. I am grateful it is also wrapped in the Redemption of a God who holds us all in His Heart. And this is the God I pray to on behalf of the Doolin family and the Allen County Primary Center family. This is the same God who loved us enough to send us His Little Boy, who suffered a violent and heartless death at the hands of the cruelest evil. And this is the same God Who wrapped His dead Boy's body in the Redemption of Resurrection to give us Peace in troubled times and the promise of unspeakable Joy in Eternal Life.
It is almost time for Advent, that time of year when we prepare our hearts for Christmas, for the time when we remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus. It is hard to imagine how anyone could want to harm a life so pure and innocent, so filled with Light. But evil was present then. Unfortunately it is also present now: the Herod's are still about. But we know that the Baby in the manger carried with Him a Light that cannot be diminished by any darkness. His Light and Love shine through even the darkest hour. The love and support expressed by so many in our community, so many who do not even know the Doolins but who choose to share their heartache, are proof of that. So let us
talk to the Baby born from God's Heart. Let us embrace Him, let our tears fall and kiss His tender face, let us ask Him to hold us in this dark, long night. It is amazing how much Peace this Boy from God's Heart can bring.