I had a friend send me a message on Facebook recently "my heart just hurts," she said. I cried as I read it and I wanted to reach through the screen and hold her hand.
My sweet friend has been through a rough couple of years. Her life has been turned completely upside-down through no fault of her own. I don't relate to what she is going through, but I do relate to that feeling of "life just hurts."
This year has been the hardest year of my life. That's not hyperbole. There were days that I didn't think I was going to be able to get out of bed. In fact, if it weren't for my kids there were days I probably would not have gotten out of bed. It hurt to breathe, to think, to lift my head.
On April 14 of this year, I found out I had a miscarriage. I went in for an ultrasound at 10 weeks to find out my baby was gone. He (I use he because it's the pronoun I am most familiar with after having two baby boys) had just stopped growing at 6 weeks. I think the most haunting sound I have ever heard in my life is silence where I should have heard a heart beating.
I don't think heartbreaking is a good word for it. I think heart shattering is more appropriate. There were weeks I struggled to breathe. I thought the weight of my grief would crush me.
If you're a Christian you have probably heard a lot of people talk about relying on God. I didn't truly understand what that meant until I had to ask Him for the strength to get off the couch and make my child a sandwich. I needed Him to give me the strength to get from hour to hour let alone through a whole day.
About a week after I learned I had lost the baby I was sitting in my front yard watching my boys play. I was earnestly trying to enjoy Spring because it's my favorite season. I looked to my left to see our small little peach tree was starting to grow beautiful pink blossoms.
Last year at the end of the summer Jason and I purchased three peach trees for $5 each at Lowes. Considering they were basically sad little sticks with one dead leaf on them, I wasn't sure they would survive.
But Jason cared for them, fertilized them and watered them daily. And by spring they were blooming. But I knew the blooms couldn't stay.
You see, if you allow a young fruit tree to bear fruit it will actually stunt the growth of the tree. The tree expels all its energy growing fruit instead of developing a deep root system, or reaching its full height and size. And the fruit it will produce will be hard and sour or bitter.
So for the first two seasons of that tree's life, you have to cut off the blossoms before fruit forms. I sat and watched as Jason clipped off each little blossom. I watched as they fell to the ground. I looked on as he moved from tree to tree.
Sure. The blossoms were gorgeous. And I was anxious to see fruit grow. But if I allowed it to continue the tree wouldn't thrive. It would be weak and the fruit would be inedible.
There is something oddly profound in that. Sometimes we have what we want. We can see it, feel it, hold it in our hands. And then it is shaken from our grip, pried from out fingers and we watch it fall to the ground. And it hurts. Sometimes life just hurts.
But the peach tree doesn't curl up and cry and cease to thrive. No. It puts down firm roots. Its branches reach toward the sky and its trunk fills out to become stronger and less easily bent by wind and rain and harsh weather. And in just a few seasons it will bear sweet fruit.
There is growth in the pain of life. It doesn't often make sense. We wonder why these things had to happen. We hurt. We cry. But if we allow ourselves, we can grow and the fruit we bear will be much, much sweeter.