When I was pregnant with my first baby almost 12 years ago we joyfully announced it to our friends and among our church family. I remember one Sunday as I walked through the halls at church I stopped one of my girlfriends on her way to the children’s classrooms.
“Did you hear? We’re expecting!” I was so excited. First baby, first morning sickness, first everything. She stopped and chatted and she, who’d already borne a few babies herself, shared some of her wisdom.
I told her that I was working, how I was feeling and what I was nervous about. In the course of the conversation, to allay a pregnant mother’s fear of something, she waved her hand down and said, “Pshaw. People get pregnant and have babies every day; you’ll be fine.”
She didn’t mean any ill, and perhaps it was the progesterone coursing through my veins or maybe one of her kids needed her in the children’s church. Or maybe it was because God hadn’t taught me radical grace yet, but I almost reeled in horror.
I thought, yes, people get pregnant every day but I don’t get pregnant every day. How dare she reduce one of the biggest occurrences of my life to one that happens “all the time” to “everyone?” Isn’t my experience special?
My grandmother is dying right now. And by the time these words go to post, that might even be inaccurate. I might be scanning Travelocity for plane tickets for a funeral.
Last Thursday after my mother had called me and said the word “hospice,” I drove myself to the store and found myself weeping on the way. And I cursed myself because my grief surprised me. She’s my grandmother, not my child or my sister or even my own mother or father. She’s special to me and holds my history in her gnarled hands, but there is some distance, both geographically and emotionally.
Yet I wept.
And I began, mile by mile, to give myself the permission to grieve a death that is imminent but not yet occurred. I began to give myself the permission to recognize that grief, however small or big, is absolutely real and right to the person experiencing it.
Just visit a care facility: we age, our bodies and our minds break down, and we die. It happens every day. The pragmatic part of my heart tells me not to grieve from my core because this was always going to happen. The pragmatic part of my heart says that it’s okay because things like this happen every day.
But it’s happening to me. And it’s happening to us. And to her.
And it really hurts.
And because of that it is special and close to the heart of God. Jesus tells us that not a sparrow falls that He is unaware of. And that He is close to the broken-hearted. He is even close to broken hearts that break when we don’t want them to and hearts that break over griefs that may seem minor to the rest of the world.
So if you’re a girl like me who somehow along the way hasn’t given herself the permission to grieve even the small things, know that God grieves with you.
Or if you’re a girl who grieves big and hard at both the minor and major things of life, know that your heart is precious to God.
And if you’re a girl who is broken-hearted today whether or not you chose this or it chose you, please know that broken-heartedness is where we feel most drawn to Him.
Births and deaths happen every day, but the one that is in front of you right now is the most important in the universe to the God that created all of us.
Rest well in that and give yourself the permission to feel all that your heart has been created to feel.