I was reminded recently of a chapter (within a book) by Levi Lusko, which is more than likely what prompted me to begin transparently sharing on my Instagram account about grief. His book Through the eyes of a lion has so many nuggets of wisdom and phrases that I have audibly said "YES!!!" to while I was reading it. The subtitle on the book says "Facing impossible pain, finding incredible power" and it has been one of the most impactful books I've read while experiencing ambiguous grief. I'm a 'highlighter' in my books and this book has all the highlighting... it's creased, dog-eared, been spilled on and visibly well-loved.
Chapter eight in his book is titled "Pain is a microphone" and within that is a quote from C.S. Lewis's book The Problem of Pain - "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world." While I am experiencing my own grief, trying to make sense of the intense emotions, gut-reactions, coping mechanisms, triggers and more, I feel compelled to share about the one part of my life that I am fiercely protective of. That is quite the thing to wrestle with.
Sharing about my mom and how this disease has taken so much from her/me/our friends and family... its hard. It's emotion-filled and heartbreaking. I find myself trying to document as much as possible with my camera but unable to share a huge majority of the images. Because those images are vulnerable, tender pieces of my heart, breaking and bursting simultaneously. But then I carefully select an image and I use the caption to string a bunch of words together to be transparent and honest about part of this grief struggle. And the response... Grief truly IS a microphone.
It is after I share, after I show some of my cracks and broken pieces, allowing others to see my pain, my heart and our 'normal', that I find myself reading responses (publicly or privately) of others sharing their own pain or (what still feels a bit strange to me) their thankfulness for my transparency. I often hesitate before I share, questioning if I'm oversharing and anxious that my silly words will be received well. But there is almost always a compulsion to share in spite of those insecurities - almost as if I HAVE to share these things, that 'this' cannot be contained or selfishly kept to myself.
A few days ago, I shared with a close friend that I had begun this new website/blog and the direction I feel myself being pulled with it. She listened to me ramble and be insecure about this space. In the past few years, I've often received comments along the lines of how my family is inspiring/an inspiration to others, and we were discussing how uncomfortable that usually makes me feel. There's much of caring for someone with Multiple System Atrophy that I don't feel we have had a choice in. There's a lot of this experience for our family that has felt messy, ugly or hard, and those things don't necessarily get placed in the spotlight. I think it's not uncommon for most of us to try to hide those things from public consumption - we routinely share our life highlights, while avoiding the rest. I see behind the curtain, so to speak, and I feel as though there is no alternative to how we respond to this disease in light of our love for mom and our faith. I don't like being in the spotlight myself and I prefer to people-watch instead of being the one watched. I shared this with her and she challenged me to be more gracious with how others find inspiration in our journey. She pushed me to share and use my reluctant voice.
Following that conversation, I received a message from a woman in my hometown that very same day, encouraging me and addressing aspects I was concerned about when putting my tender heart on display. I feel very inadequate in this journey to share grief and God's sovereignty through it all. I worry my words will be slanted towards despair when things feel overwhelming heavy and hard, instead of pointing to the hope we have in Him and cling to in the process. My knowledge of 'good writing' is limited to whatever has come through osmosis while reading, so I am self-conscious of how legitimate writers I know view my words. I don't ever want to sugarcoat how difficult it is to experience this sort of goodbye to a loved one and I refuse to pretend I don't cry regularly OR apologize for my tears in any way because there is absolutely NOTHING to apologize for. I pray often that my tears and pain will somehow be redeemed by God, to glorify Him.
Levi Lusko writes in his book, "He's turning your mess into a message. He's turning your pain into a platform. He's turning your trial into your testimony and the trash that has come into your life into triumph!" I hope that in spite of me, the words on this website and in my Instagram captions do just that. Written within that short Facebook message I received, were these encouraging words: "Thank you for your strength and courage to break yourself open like that - it's raw, authentic, and necessary. We all learn so much from each other's 'situations' - pain, life lessons, and the list goes on..."
So this is me breaking myself open, to let pain be my microphone, so that God can use our suffering to bless others.