Do you ever look back in your life and realize that there was a time that significantly changed the way you see the world? I recently realized that one of these times for me was in January 2007.
To give a little background, a short year before, I'd survived my own major medical crisis. As soon as the doctor gave me the go ahead, I left and spent 6 months in Brazil. In November 2006, I moved back to the US confused and finally processing what had happened the prior two years.
In January 2007, two of my dear friends were due to have their first child. They were really my closest friends to have a child first, so this was all new and exciting. I anxiously awaited news of the birth, and still remember the dread that filled me from bottom to top when I got the news that something bad had happened. I remember trying to process through and plan a trip to Oklahoma to be there when my friends buried their baby. But, after weeks and months of fighting, Ben made it. :) Today he is a happy and healthy 4 year old who is joy. But I'll never forget the dread and pain of that time. Something deep inside me changed, and it felt like growing up in the most painful way.
A couple of weeks after Ben's birth, I heard the news that one of my classmates from OC serving as a missionary in Uganda and died there. I didn't know him well, but having lived for ~2 years as a vocational minister abroad my heart broke for the family and loved ones of Adam Langford. His funeral was one of the most poignant, painful days as I saw so many of my college friends gather to bury this young man, far before his time. I know some people say funerals should be a celebration of life, but they are also places to pour out your grief when it hurts. And that is what happened.
I can't tell you definitively what changed for me during this month. I know I was changed. I know that loss and suffering felt more keen than ever before. But I also learning about healing. About grieving. And about living.
Some of my friends have told me that my health crises was a time like this for them. Isn't it interesting what grows us? And what we let grow us? In the words of St. Bono of Dublin, "The heart that hurts is the heart that beats."