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Shattered lives…

I met up with a dear friend the about a week ago and was able to just chat about this that, and everything else. Mom and I met her again the other day and did the same. We talked about family, friends, hardships and blessings. She talked about her husband and how hard it has been after losing him, and I tried to think of what I could say to make it better. Problem is there isn’t anything someone can say to make it all better. There are, however, a lot of things that can help, and a lot that can hurt. I think that’s the thing that gets us. We’re so afraid of saying the wrong thing, that we don’t say anything at all. It’s just like how Christians are so afraid of saying the wrong thing about Jesus that they don’t say anything at all.

This was actually a big part of our discussion. Not saying anything, or hearing anything because of this big fear that we’ll get it wrong. And yet the biggest thing you can do is just go with your heart. Don’t say what you think they want to hear, or what other people tell you to say. If you haven’t gone through what the other person is going through now, don’t say “I know what you’re going through.” Sometimes the best thing to say can’t be done with words. Sometimes you have to say it with shared tears, holding each others hands, or a big hug. Sometimes it’s just shared silence. It’s not always going to work 0ut, but you can’t learn if you don’t try.

In any case, during the second conversation, an image struck me. While our friend was talking, she said that her life has been shattered so many times already. She was tired of having to pick herself back up again, and wondered how many more times she’d have to go through this. She wasn’t sure she could do it again. Through all this, I saw a glass sphere in my mind being dropped and shattering. When you try to put it back together, there are pieces that don’t fit anymore and others that seem to be missing. So you have to break the pieces even more until they do fit.

Yet each time even one of those pieces breaks, it’s heart wrenching. To know that some of the breaks have to be self-inflicted is hard, and to know that others will happen when you think everything is finally going okay is so painful. Before long, you have something that has been broken and put back together so many times that you can’t tell where one break ends and the next begins. The sphere is nothing but ever-smaller fragments being pieced back together.


It hurts me to know that her shattering isn’t done yet, and that this is so hard for her. To make it worse, I’m afraid I won’t be able to help much once I’m back in school. Hopefully our conversations helped a bit. I know they meant a lot to me and my mom. I just hope that when it seems too hard for her to try to put the pieces back together, there will be someone there to help her out.



Comments on: "Shattered lives…" (4)

  1. Jen Holtebeck said:

    Paul, you may be interested in this article. It’s about exactly what you’re talking about. My favorite line is “sometimes the best thing we can do for a hurting soul is to be present with them. And to keep silent.”


    • Jen, thank you for sharing! That is such a beautiful article. I will definitely remember your favorite line as well as the advice the author got from her mother. “God made us human beings, not human doers. Life is about who we are being and who we are becoming, not so much about what we are able to accomplish.” Absolutely beautiful!

  2. Well put Paul. I remember when the Murah building was bombed and a lady lost two little boys in the blast, she said it hurt the most at church when people did not say anything to her. And it was for the very reason you stated. Just a hug and smile through tears will do it.

    • Unfortunately there’s still a lot to be done in churches and elsewhere. I hope that some day the world will be open and inviting to all, no matter what situation they’re in or who they are. Thank you for your continued support and comments!

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