One thing that has stuck with me from that weekend (along with many other wonderful "things") is the way the two female speakers both shared their stories. It is difficult to explain, but let me see if I can make myself clear.
As you know if you are a regular reader of my blog (or if you
Throughout the marriage retreat, the two female speakers shared that they, too, had suffered child losses--both of them stillbirths, but both had gone on to have several children. Both talked about their child loss experiences in a very matter-of-fact manner--as if their child losses were nothing worse than having a flat tire or washing something red in with your whites.
I'm going to be perfectly honest here. Please don't judge me. OK?
I honestly felt as if I had been slapped in the face as each woman shared her story in her matter-of-fact manner. My head literally jerked back as if I had been slapped during each woman's story. I couldn't believe each woman shared her story and then moved on to her next point as if what she had had not completely exploded inside my brain.
What?! How can you share such a story and move on as if it was NOTHING to you??? How do I continue to sit here in this room full of people--more than 600 people all together--as if everything is hunkie-dorie?! When inside I am reliving every moment of each of my three losses as if they are happening to me--again?! Why isn't everyone in this room crying--as I am? Why doesn't my husband turn to look to at me? To offer me some comfort because any time the subject of child loss is brought up, it brings it all back to me as I watch each experience flash before my eyes?! What is he thinking? How is he feeling? I don't even care. I'm starting to feel too hot. I can't breathe. Please, Lord, not a panic/anxiety attack. Not now. Not here. Not in front of all these people?!
These thoughts flickered through my mind as quickly as a lightning flash. When I came back to the present during the presentation, I realized that the female speaker was sharing a story....a difficult story for her to tell....about her son and how he took a completely different direction as an adult than what she or her husband had dreamed for their children (he was living with a woman who'd already had 4 children with another man, had a 5th and was pregnant with her 6th--both of who were his, her son's).
And guess what? SHE WAS TEARING UP! She was struggling to get through her story!!!!
What?! Seriously? THIS is what tears your heart out and makes you have a come-to-Jesus time?! What?! What about your child loss?! THAT is worse than your son living with a woman "in sin"!!!! Isn't it?! Shouldn't it be?!
But she was sharing her heart and this experience had torn her to pieces. She was clearly struggling emotionally and spiritually with her disappointment in her son's sin. (Please understand that I am speaking from a Christian perspective and this is what living with someone and having babies out of wedlock is called in the Christian world.) I could FEEL her pain across the room. The tears began to stream down my cheeks as she continued to share the importance of keeping our focus on God and to remember that HE is working EVERYTHING together for our good. I even had to get some tissues to wipe the tears streaming down my cheeks.
And it hit me: the enemy knows what it is for each and every single person that will "take down" each one of us PERSONALLY. What tears my heart out and makes my soul ache to the very depths of my being is NOT the SAME THING that tears out the heart of the person sitting next to me...or the person sitting next to that person....or the person sitting next to that person....or the person behind me....or the person behind that person......and on and on it goes.
Wow. Is THAT why others have a difficult time "getting" why my struggle is REAL for me? Is that why I don't "get" why others seem to be struggling with [fill in the blank]?
I can't stop thinking about this brief moment in a whole weekend of powerful moments. The Bible says in Matthew 7:1, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged" and in Luke 6:37, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged." We have no earthly idea what the person next to us is going through or what it is that the enemy is using to attack him/her.
The plain and simple truth is that what each person struggles with is as individual as is each individual person.