Becoming Bethany

Observations on becoming and being

Month: February, 2015

How Pain Can Enlarge the Heart and Expand the Soul

The house that is my heart has many rooms. All of these rooms have been built through my life experiences and all of them have names and in these rooms dwell parts of me. Some of the rooms I am very proud of (e.g. “Loves”) and some I really need to clean out (e.g. “Fears”). Some are neat and tidy (e.g. “Ideals”) and some are in great disarray (e.g. “Cultural Identity”). There are rooms in my house that I have not stepped into for many years (e.g. “School”). And there are rooms I have yet to open the doors to (e.g. “Motherhood”).

The pain of the last year has opened up a new wing to my home. Suffering has built a new suite of rooms to enter. These rooms have names like “Loneliness”, “Heartbreak”, “Betrayal”, and “Broken Dreams”. They are sad, dark, empty, barren rooms. I did not request this expansion to my home and the colors and design are just not my style. Still I must enter these rooms and live in them for a time. I do not want to dwell here long but I have to inhabit these rooms long enough to make them mine. Otherwise, they will just sit there as a great, dark, empty space in my heart. If I do not acknowledge they are mine, there is a whole corner of my home that I can never use. It would have to be closed off and forgotten.

But as I live in this new part of my house, I start to get ideas. As I wander through other rooms in my house (“Friendship”, “Faithfulness”, and my very favorite room “Loves”), I get inspired. I come back to the new suite with bits of color, swatches of wallpaper, and brighter lamps. I hope to re-purpose and re-decorate those sad, dark rooms. I hope they can be re-named “Compassion”, “Forgiveness”, and “Redemption”. Maybe these rooms can become places where I can invite others to join me. Maybe these rooms will bring joy and life to others as well.

I want to grow my life and not constrict it. I want to enlarge my heart and not shrink it. I want to deepen my soul and not just build a false floor halfway down to ignore what is underneath. Sometimes that growth takes pain. Sometimes that expansion requires times of suffering. May I learn to live unafraid of those times.

A List of Loves

When I think about love, it looks like:

a page filled with a dear one’s handwriting.

a father rocking his croupy baby late into the night.

a granddaughter sitting and listening to her grandfather’s slow speech as he imparts one one more memory for her to keep.

a mother snuggling and savoring every moment she gets with her terminally ill baby.

a proud man excitedly embracing his wife in celebration of her promotion or award.

a woman waiting up late for her husband to get home from a long, exhausting day at work just so they can have time to talk.

an adult son standing in the kitchen with his mother listening to her tell him about her week.

a grandson holding his grandmother’s hand after his grandfather’s passing.

an adult daughter frantically calling her parents at 2am with an emergency because she know they will always wake up for her.

the smiling face of a woman holding up a positive pregnancy test for her partner to see.

a couple weeping together as they mourn a dead dream.

a card from your sister because she knows you are having a rough week.

the knitted eyebrows of a lover honestly sharing his deepest thoughts.

a couple running down the aisle together after vowing their lives to one another.

your brothers lovingly teasing you about childhood stories well into your adult years.

the clenched fists and pained face of a woman delivering her child.

the glow and contentment in a man’s eyes when he see the woman he loves.

an elderly father waiting on his front porch for his son to come visit.