This time of year is riddled with dates that remind me of my brokenheartedness. Between the beginning of February and the beginning of April I am reminded of: a traumatic birth my child and I were lucky to survive, memories and fear from the earliest COVID days, and the sudden deaths of two friends.
As with any journey of brokenheartedness, grief, or sorrow, I never quite know how palpable and emotional the memories will be. Each year is different and for each anniversary as well. Some years pass with a few memories popping up and moving quickly through. Other years bring tears and serious depression flares. It is a winding path full of surprises (both good and bad).
This is why I struggle with the word “heal” in today’s Psalm; it almost feels flippant to me. Healing has been presented to us in the Western Christian world as a one-directional, one-time event. If we pray the correct way and have enough faith, God will work in our lives and bam everything will be fine again. We will be “whole again”. But this is not the lived experience of healing. Yes, there are miracles, but they are not the average experience. More often, we walk that winding path, hoping to find a deeper sense of peace. Not to mention, we are good and holy as we are: brokenhearted and all.
Instead, I like to think of God as someone who walks with, accompanies, the brokenhearted. God’s presence in the midst of our despair can provide comfort and validation, regardless of if we are “healed” from those things afterwards. S/he can hold our hand on the winding path, light our feet, follow us so quietly we may not feel their presence.
Today’s Psalm provides other imagery of the tenderness of God with us on the winding path. I imagine God as a beloved aunt, stroking my hair, telling me the number and stories of all of the stars, weaving my name into the tales, providing so much comfort. I imagine the calm, soothing parent God cleaning my scraped knees while also attending to my embarrassed and frustrated spirit. I imagine the wise grandparent God validating my emotions, sharing stories of their own brokenheartedness, and helping me feel seen, loved, and not alone. Our God is gracious, sustaining, and with us.
Praise the Lord, who walks with the brokenhearted.
Praise the Lord, who comforts the brokenhearted.
Praise the Lord, who tends to the brokenhearted.
Praise the Lord, who validates the brokenhearted.