I saw your tiny body quivering, gasping for each bit of life support available in the sterile Intensive Care Unit. Your heart was sick. Broken. Unable to sustain more than the first three months of your life. The unnatural, methodical rising and falling of your chest was unable to comfort my own breaking heart. Sounds of beeping monitors mirrored the chaotic emotions of my own heart as I was fighting to keep you from death’s door. Tears streamed down my face as I watched you suffer, helpless to take away your pain. Although I would’ve given everything I had to do it.
After your miraculous heart transplant and recovery, I remember the indescribable joy within my heart as we finally walked out of the hospital, closing that pain-filled chapter of our lives. I eagerly anticipated taking you home and protecting you from any more trauma or suffering.
As our family continued to face one challenge after another, the fear in my heart grew stronger. I became more aware of how fragile life is and how easily I could face yet more loss. I feared brokenness. My fear of brokenness was seeped in the fear of suffering.
I detest suffering. But I have watched you and your brother suffer in more ways and times than I can begin to recount, and there simply are no sufficient words to describe this kind of intense pain. But I find it breaks my heart a little more each time.
I know you’re no longer this tiny girl laying on the ICU bed, gasping and struggling for your life. The numerous medicine pumps taking up much more space on the bed than your body. But this mama’s heart breaks as I see you again struggling with the chronic health challenges you’re facing. I see you learning how to live in the face of unspoken pain, and trying to cling to the goodness of God all the while confused by His seeming silence. Your body shakes from the intense physical pain, and again, I watch helplessly and wish I could carry the pain for you. But since I can’t, I’m reminded of this: Suffering exposes the greatest heroes…and you are certainly mine.
My sweet girl, I’ve seen your physical heart healed by God’s grace. Your body received the indescribable gift of another child’s heart. But how does a person live with an emotionally broken heart? How do we cope with suffering?
As I’ve struggled again to accept this journey in our lives, God reminded me that surrendering my heart and life to Him involves saying, “Lord, use my life in the way You think is best.” Instead of being frustrated about the intense health battles we frequently seem to struggle with, I believe God wants me to accept His grace while continuing to give Him grace. After all, if this is the way God wants to use our lives, who are we to not joyfully allow Him?
Our compassionate Father never leaves us to suffer alone. Because of our suffering, we can be drawn even closer to the heart of our broken Savior. He desires to be close to the broken-hearted and to bind up and heal our shattered hearts. Our Suffering Jesus weeps when we weep.
As much as we despise it, suffering is a gift. It is our opportunity to become broken bread to feed the souls of others. When we are personally shattered by our own brokenness, our suffering can more fully reach the hearts of others. Ann Voscamp has said, “Those who have known an unspoken broken can offer the greatest healing.” The best way to make it through our pain is to reach out to others in their pain. God’s grace enables us to push through our ache to become the blessing.
My dear girl, the gaping wounds around our broken hearts can be the very openings for God’s grace and healing to seep in. Grace is always best seen in our broken places.
I still don’t like the hard, the imperfections. The brokenness. And I’ve fought long and hard to stop the sufferings of my family. But Jesus keeps asking me to embrace my suffering. To simply learn to be okay when life is NOT okay. Instead of attempting to survive the storms, I’m learning to dance in the rain. Finding joy in the midst of pain. Making the most of my imperfect, broken world. Allowing my broken heart to fully feel the pain, but then fully surrendering it to my Heart-Healer.
My daughter, I see my own reflection as I look deeply into your heart. I recognize the ache. The fear, pain and loss. And I understand and care. But don’t fear the brokenness. Or the suffering. And never choose to suffer alone. As we vulnerably share about our suffering and brokenness, it helps to dispel aloneness and fear. But it can be hard to trust others with our wounds.
Our greatest wounds on earth may become our greatest treasures in heaven. When we vulnerably share of our own brokenness, we can better minister to others. The greatest healing we can offer to the hearts of others is when we give from our own broken hearts. A kind friend recently encouraged me with these words, “Perfect people may entertain, but it’s the broken ones who truly minister.”
My brave, beautiful girl, you may be broken and may struggle with fear. But you will always be loved. And you are never more whole than when you embrace your brokenness and suffering as a part of life in our broken world. When you choose to focus on God’s grace in the path of suffering rather than your own comfort. Your intimate love for your Father is best demonstrated when you graciously participate in the sufferings He allows in your life. Receiving His grace while returning grace.
God offers heart transplants to each of us. He takes our hurting, broken hearts and replaces them with His own, and we become conduits of grace. Our hearts can be healed, happy and whole; regardless of our circumstances. God transplants our broken hearts with the scars and beat of His own. A heart rhythmically beating for the hurting around us.
The solution for not becoming another drowning victim lost in the consuming sea of suffering is to comfort others through our pain. Compassionately reaching out instead of retreating within. We will never find true healing without vulnerably exposing our wounds.
Let’s allow God’s arms of grace to strip away our grasping hold of perfection. Our hearts may feel battered, and our dreams shattered. But we can fling open wide our hands, giving up our bruised control. Our broken hearts can find the joyous rhythm of a brand new beat; one that methodically praises in the midst of suffering.
My daughter, I will always be here as we learn and navigate through these struggles together.
I love you, my Brave Heart.
~Cindy (For The Mullett Family)