To Carpet the Earth

The other day I read the following statement in a blog by Esther Emery:

Pain happens anyway. Do we spend our days trying to carpet the entire earth? Or do we wear shoes? Learn and teach how to live in the grief, work in the frustration, heal in the physical pain. Learn how to be the broken people we are, because that doesn’t go away.

I am so guilty of wanting to “wish away” life’s hurts. For myself. For my family. For my friends. If I had my way, I would carpet the entire earth so everyone had a smooth path to travel.

And I would be surrounded by a whole lot of weak people, myself included.

As much as I love going barefoot, sometimes I have to wear shoes. Because there are places that just plain old require that.

Going barefoot is only an option when the road is less than thorny. And all too often, it’s not.

In response to Emery’s statement of pain and brokenness, I began journaling my own thoughts…

I cannot remove the suffering, no matter how much I wish it away. But I can partner with others on this broken journey of sin-soaked soil and shine a little light in the darkness. No matter how dimly my little light shines. I can train my focus to turn from removing the obstacles for others; it is too exhausting for these fragile, earthy hands of mine. Instead, I can work toward strengthening myself in the divine. Toughening the calloused hands that embrace the broken pieces of too much living. Because the suffering will remain as long as His coming tarries. The hurts will always be here on Terra firma…

In the middle of my writing, I was interrupted by a phone call from a loved one. A  friend whose voice broke into tears almost immediately after my initial “hello.” While I waited in silence, her voice haltingly shared her most recent hurt. And I was faced with the urge to “carpet her earth” in that moment. To set her feet on a softer path where she could experience the joy of going barefoot through the softness of a journey that was all sunshine and roses – without the thorns.

Though it warred against my rising compassion, I resisted the temptation to pacify her heart against the convictions burning within her. I could not find a loophole that would soften the blow to her heart as I was reminded, in real time, that as much as I want to “wish away the pain,” I know it lies deeper than my hands can reach.

And so I listened. And loved. And prayed for God’s grace to grow and somehow overcome the hurt. The all-tied-up-in-a-knot emotions of a heart disappointed. I avoided preaching the “quick fix” mantras of Christianity, because there really is no “quick fix” for a heart hurting, no magical repair of relationships gone terribly wrong. There is only grace. And love. And that, we will always have, even while facing a circumstance that neither of us wished were true.

But to remind a broken heart while it’s breaking seems almost pointless. Even cruel.

After hanging up the phone, I picked up my pen and continued my journal entry with the following:

The hurts will always be here on Terra firma… But so will the light. And no matter how darkly the coverage of gathering storms clouds up the skies, the light will always be strong enough to pierce its thickness. So love through the hurts, walk hand-in-hand through the broken rubble, and trust the love that lingers when circumstances make no sense. Engage your will against resistance, and travel on. Together.

No, I cannot possibly carpet the whole earth and soften the blows of pain that are certain to come, sometimes with knock-out proportions. I can only train myself to rest in God’s love and take the brokenness that surrounds me before the One who makes all things new…

Even when our hopes have been shattered and our minds cannot begin to comprehend what He is up to.

So I will lace up my shoes – though I’d much rather run barefoot – and join you on this journey that stretches before us. And together, we will trust His love that lingers when the temporal flees.

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