So often I hear of folks who have attempted to tell their story of grief, only to be responded to with a blank stare. Or, they respond with: “I know how you feel” and then begin to offer an explanation for their claimed understanding that reveals their complete lack of understanding. For a moment, we have a glimmer of Hope that perhaps they genuinely do understand, but just as quickly that glimmer turns to darkness.
Such moments are discouraging. They cause us to feel alone.
Approximately twelve years ago, I was visiting at my youngest son’s home and opened up my Bible to a Scripture that jumped off the page at me:
John 1:5 “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”
It was one of those ‘wow!’ moments. The impact was powerful, as if I had been in a dark tunnel and suddenly a spotlight was turned on. The realization that darkness simply cannot comprehend ‘the light’ had my wheels spinning. The depth of this little gem of Truth is immeasurable. When someone has not experienced the loss of a child, the day-to-day struggle with a disability, the trauma of abuse…try as one may to explain it and enlighten another is fruitless. It’s shining a light into darkness that is incapable of laying hold of it, of grasping it. No one else can ever completely walk in our shoes.
There is no fault or blame in this.
I have mentioned in the past about a brief moment that occurred at one of my first grief support meetings I attended, shortly after my son’s demise. I was standing at the table in the back of the room pouring a cup of coffee when for whatever reason I suddenly turned toward another grieving Mom, who was also getting her cup of coffee, and blurted out: “I wonder what else we don’t know?”. Forthwith, a light went on for me. Had I been walking through my entire life with blinders on? How could it be that I had made it through forty-five years on this planet living in a bubble? How could it be that I did not know that I did not know? My life had been based on assumptions in regards to so very many things.
I don’t want to walk in your shoes; I don’t want you to walk in mine. My shoes fit me. They may have been very uncomfortable when I first put them on; they may have given me blisters. However, I have spent some time wearing them now and have broken them in. They may not appear very attractive to others, but I am comfortable with how they fit me. They have adjusted to my feet; they fit me well. They will never fit another as well as they fit me. They can’t be re-broken in to fit another. I embrace them because they are mine. They are specifically suitable for me.
Psalm 139:16 (MSG)
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.
Though we may not be able to completely wear another’s shoes comfortably, we can try them on and at least get an ‘idea’ of how they feel. There is only One, however, Who truly understands how they feel. The Designer who made them explicitly for me, the One Who has been with me from the onset of my very existence, knows. He, alone, is the Light in my darkness. Because of Him, I am never truly alone. When no one else understands, He does. In this, I can take comfort. If you want me to try on your shoes, I will; if you’d like to try on mine, you may. But when I leave to walk away, I will be wearing mine… and you shall be wearing yours. We may not be able to wear one another’s shoes, but we can help one another carry each other’s burdens while wearing our own shoes.
(((HUGS))) Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at: Xulon Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and DeeperShopping. Additional international retailers: http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/biography/gifts-from-the-ashes,jude-gibbs-9781498496728 http://www.upliftvstore.com/product.asp?sku=9781498496728 Also, a Contributor on ‘The Mighty’: https://themighty.com/author/jude-gibbs/
Please help spread the Word. TY! (((HUGS)))