There is grace

Revisiting some memories today…

There are always things left unsaid and I learned my lesson a long time ago not to bring up the hard stuff. It just makes people uncomfortable.

But talking around it leaves little holes all over me—tiny pinpricks in my skin that burn and eventually my heart begins seeping.
I am not good at pretending.
We come to see the family—to see my first great nephew. We come to see one baby and learn about another. And I have two seconds of surprise and shock and what?? before she casually places the ultrasound pictures in my hands.
Sometimes, there are no words for beauty.
We walk under these budding trees—a blanket of new lace over our heads—and hum the sound of the river rushing fast below us. I can see the railroad tracks and just beyond—her curvaceous whitewaters.
There has been much rain of late and she is in a hurry to get to the sea and the sound of her calling to us as she rushes by fills me with terror and exhilaration.
Is this still the Tygart River? I ask the locals, who rarely name such things. They only know her by her intimate—by what nature gives to her. We don’t need to talk; this language is our native tongue.
I am with my sister and my mother and the kids don’t feel the earth’s heartbeat the way we do. How to say? Remember when? Remember when the woods were our refuge? And we would crash down ravines of fern and dying leaves and snack on wild onions when we grew hungry and then pick the ticks off of each other in the fading evening sun?
We would stay out all day, remember? And not eat anything. Maybe take a drink out of the creek.
She says it to me and we are lost in the smell of new leaves opening up and decaying leaves underfoot and the way our legs feel straining up the hill. I am in heaven but I want to cry.
We find a waterfall and stand underneath, let the spray cool our dirty skin. I am wearing a white blouse. I didn’t come prepared for hiking. My sister loaned me some tennis shoes and they are soaked through from wading through the mud.
When Teddy falls on the slippery rock, I watch his head snap back and I feel terror grip me. He catches himself, but he’s hit hard and I feel it in my soul. I feel the broken bone. He cradles his arm the whole way back and cannot bend it for the pain.
Me—I am so relieved that he didn’t hit his head—that he can still move his legs—that I can’t worry too much. We have lunch and he won’t eat.
I am looking at the ultrasound pictures, feeling sad so deep I cannot name it. I want to ask so many questions, but the bridge is too wide. I swallow hard.
And what I hold in my hand only screams to me what an outsider I am to my own family and I feel so lonely. I only have words to give but when the words are not received, when the words are not wanted…there is only silence.
There are eight hands at the table that have all made mistakes. We’ve given our hearts and our bodies to the wrong men. We’ve turned away from God in agony and defeat and loathed the skin we wear. This path we chose…it brought us back to our Good God broken and on our knees.
This is what I want to say. I want to say leave the shame. Turn your face to the Light. If we belong to Him, we are clothed in grace. Only grace. No man or woman is covered in less. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.
That is what the Divine Love is about.
And I want to ask about love and about the pain of bearing it all and I want to embrace this one who has my same blood.
But the bridge is too wide.
So we make nice and snap more pictures by the water and I pile my boys in the car to drive the long drive home. He and I spend the evening at the ER—with the X-ray techs and the other sickly people. And I feel tired, but I know it has nothing to do with the sleepless night or that long hike I took in my white blouse, or the long drive home, or the five hours in the ER.
I know that it’s about that long bridge I keep trying to cross. I’m not even halfway there and already I’m exhausted.  Teddy wears a blue cast now, but I still feel broken. Is there a cast for the heart? I ponder and stumble and I keep coming back to this:
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (Deut. 31:8)
I know I am not alone on this long and wearisome walk. There is One who walks beside. Sometimes this One will even carry. So. I keep putting one foot in front of the other. And I try to speak love when I can. Sometimes, silence must do.
Because sometimes, there are just no words for beauty.


  1. Sharon O says

    This is so beautiful. So full of emotion… and questions… and thoughts that are deep. I know the tired you write about. I am also aware of the heart that needs a cast and the make nice moments… when all you want to do is open the door to deeper truths and words. thank you … your gift is a blessing to many.

  2. Dave Vander Laan says

    It takes so much energy to pretend – and grace is so life-giving.

    Laura, may grace be the marrow that makes all things new…

  3. Jody Ohlsen Collins says

    oh, Laura…’that long bridge I keep trying to cross.’ I’m walking with a family member that seems, at every turn, to be just about there…with giving up, giving in and giving it all to Jesus. And then. She’ll get back to the same ol’ same ol’ and my heart grieves. Then the Holy Spirit brings a reminder, ‘such were some of you, Jody.’ And I pray again. And trust.
    Such a beautiful, moving story.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Megan Willome says

    Laura, this touches me so deeply. These words: “So. I keep putting one foot in front of the other. And I try to speak love when I can. Sometimes, silence must do.” That’s what I’m having to do with someone right now, too. It’s so hard.

  5. ThandiweW says

    Wow…the beauty of these words…”Grace.That is what the Divine Love is about.” I am grateful beyond words that for Him, the bridge is never too wide.
    I am slain in the Spirit.
    thank you.
    Peace and good through all there is,

  6. says

    Beautiful, Laura. Yes, we need to leave the shame and offer grace to ourselves and others. Nothing less. Our God is a god of restoration. The restoration of a priceless work of art can take a long time, but we can rest in knowing we’ve left it in the Master’s hands. He’ll even bring beauty where there was none before.

  7. Nannette Elkins says

    Wow…just wow…I can’t even respond because it is too close to home…I will pray for both of us today. God bless you friend. ♥

  8. smoothstones says

    This is just…one of your best posts ever. So real. I hate feeling like I can’t talk freely. Also, I hate wondering if we’ll ever get it right: if we’ll ever make it as good as it was before whatever the current infringement or hurt (or web of them). But I’m speaking more of my marriage than of my relationships w/ the family into which I was born. You make me even more grateful for those. Christ is the great redeemer. It’s not squarely on your shoulders, or theirs, to build that bridge or fix it. Don’t let it eat you up. Turn it over. I’m speaking to you what you already know. The heaviness is at least half choice.

  9. says

    I suspect my gut reaction is one of the more common ones reading this – “Oh, Laura…” – and the silence that follows those three dots I placed is filled with empathy and sadness as well as joy. This is my second visit, but first time commenting. Thank you for your gift – I’ll be back.

  10. says

    Laura, this is beautiful and so well written. You captured the feeling so many of us get in tangled relationships. Yes, focus on grace for all of us. Love your phrases such as the long bridge I keep trying to cross yep, me too, probably far behind you. We are so blessed to walk with the Lord who carries us with grace. Thank you for your words!

  11. pastordt says

    Do I remember this one? How long have we been writing to one another in these boxes? Almost 4 years?? I know I remember this pain and how palpable it is. I know I pray about this pain from time to time, carrying your sweet face in front of me for a minute here, a minute there. Gorgeous. Thank you.

  12. Mia says

    Dear Laura
    How I recall those times when we were children and nature was our cathedral. I stii remember the water we drank from the streams and the berries from the bush! Yes, we knew how to listen and to talk to “the trees”! But today it is not safe anymore. So sad.
    Blessings XX

  13. says

    I’m sorry for the lonely grief, the long bridge, the broken arm. The child in the ultrasound is a gift from God, no matter the surprising or untoward circumstances of his or her coming. May that child come to know the love of our Father and meet you in the middle of the bridge someday. And may that mama find the grace He wants to give her.

    You’re right. You are not alone. And you have an enormous extended family who loves you in the body of Christ. The Beth Moore James teaching on Jesus’ family and her own really blessed me. May you see that reconciliation come to pass beyond your expectations among your kin someday.

    Revive us, O Lord! Start with me!

  14. Betty Draper says

    I love the way you write, felt like I was walking in the woods with you. Felt your heart beat as I read for I along with others have had their share of “unexpected news” that makes us want to say things better left unsaid. I don’t want to say good post or even great post but an emotional post. I think I will return to this well spring again.

  15. lorihatcher says

    Thank you. For saying what I feel and sharing in the joy and the sorrow, sisters in Christ whose fault is wanting everyone to know Him.

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