Scary stories from a lovely place
(Today’s post is not a typical Sunday Opinion piece, but I felt it appropriate to publish it on a Sunday. It is very personal. It is written by an anonymous author who wanted to keep their life and loved ones private. If you would like to leave a message for this person you can write it in the comments section or send me an email and I can forward it on. I’m sure you will agree that this is a very powerful piece of writing.)
As I sit here writing, I know I should be at church – it’s Sunday morning. As I glance at the clock it’s 9:34am I know I should be walking through the doors (a little late, but that’s me), smiling at the people on ‘welcome duty’ at the door, giving a quick wave to someone I know already sitting in the service and happily walking over to an open seat next to a friend, whispering a “hello” with a quick hug and settling in to worship God with an open and grateful heart.
But I’m not. I can’t bring myself to go. My husband gets up early in the morning to be part of the music team and for the most part I’m left at home to get that blessed “sleep-in” and go to church on my own. This never used to be a problem. But for the last 2 years, it’s been hard to do that – walk in alone – or rather just walk in at all!
I’m currently reading anything I can find on “suffering” or rather I should say that I’m reading anything people have given me on suffering. I came across this opening paragraph under the heading “Isolation” in Ron Dunn’s ‘When Heaven is Silent’:
“All suffering has a tendency to isolate, whether it is mental or physical, a wayward child, a crumbling marriage or a failing business (or a loved-one whose dying –my own). You live in a different world of sounds and colours and interests. You are defined by your plight; it touches and shapes every moment of your existence. It casts its shadow over each part of your daily life.”
And never have I seen something described so real.
My world is different from yours. The sounds and smells you think we both hear and experience similarly, are not. We may sit in the same Bible study meeting hearing the same words, or be hanging around chatting in the same group of friends after a church service. But let me tell you that it is not experienced the same. Yes, I know this is true for all people as we come from different backgrounds, personalities etc, but those worlds are still largely the same with different tinges of colour you could say. But my world is entirely different from yours. That shadow called grief has changed it so. If you could imagine the change in the world in the Matrix movie before and after the aliens torched the sky.
The shadow is very very real to me. It indeed touches every area of my life and everywhere I look – its dark. I don’t want to be in this world. I know how it must look to the one on the outside. I don’t mean to be distant and isolate myself.
I just wanted to say I’m sorry.
I’m sorry I can’t laugh at your jokes the way I used to – loudly and exuberantly. I’m sorry I can’t show joyous enthusiasm for my new job the way you expect to see it (even though I AM extremely grateful and excited for it). I’m sorry all I can muster is an ordinary smile when I come into church in the morning and greet you. I’m sorry I don’t plan exciting get-togethers and fun social gatherings the way I used to. I’m sorry I can’t fully share in your excitement about your new baby when the lack of mine just adds to the existing darkness in my world (even though I can and do feel genuine happiness for you). I’m sorry I’m not bouncing with energy when we have a conversation. I’m sorry this makes you feel uncomfortable talking to me and leaves you with a sense of “I don’t know what to say to you”. I’m sorry I can’t seem to commit to any church activity. I’m sorry I can’t be the perfect example of a ‘suffering Christian’ who can say things like “I’m trusting God” and “He gives me strength”.
Here is a further quote to help me say what I want to say – from “Lament for a son” by Nicholas Wolterstorff. (Quoted sections in italics).
Yes, grief does isolate. I, the grieving one, am isolated from you, the happy one. Each grief has its own character – its own escape. The dynamics of each person’s sorrow must be allowed to work themselves out without judgment. You may find it strange that today I should be tearful but tomorrow dry-eyed and ‘ok’. But my world is not your world. I must struggle so hard to regain life, to cast off the shadow, that I cannot reach out to you. In order for us to touch or connect, it must be the one not grieving, the happy one, who says “Let’s get together”. I know its not easy for you (even more so when you don’t get a favourable response), I know you might not understand me (because I am a contradiction in terms reaching out but running away when approached), I know this isolation has consumed me for the better part of 2 years but all I ask is…. don’t give up on trying to connect with the grieving one.