I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
~ John 16: 33
This morning I was visiting with a woman who's husband is living within the last forty eight hours of his life. The illness that he encountered has been a long journey over the past three years. His mind has remained present, while his body seems to have forgotten how to work. Two weeks ago he spoke his last words, telling his wife that he "loved her," and that he was "sorry." She looked at him and asked, "Sorry?"
He began to express something about his "illness," and how she has "sacrificed her time," but his disease robbed him of his words, and she shared that she just looked at him and smiled, and told him, "There is nothing to be sorry about. I love you."
The tears then began to appear as she spoke, and she looked at me and said, "Today I understand heartbreak."
It is not easy watching someone we love struggle. Especially when the person is still present, but yet, no longer themselves.
While our minds and our bodies will age, and eventually relinquish the roles that they have played in our lives since that first heartbeat began to bring us life, our spirit remains strong. She shared of her husband's "great faith," and that she knows that although he can no longer talk, hold her hand, or even swallow, his spirit is "alive and well."
"The heartbreak is knowing that it is all about to end," she shared, "but also a new beginning is about to emerge without him."
So often we fail to realize that when we encounter loss, or heartbreak, there is available to us healing, and new beginnings. Even though she knows that her life with her husband is about to end, there is a new beginning about to occur. "The heartbreak is the threshold."
She went on to share that, "Heartbreak is just a symptom of the final surrendering of ourselves."
I had never considered heartbreak to be a symptom of anything but pain, but she was sharing wisdom that comes from living a life of faith, encountering illness and death, and embarking on a spiritual journey that is about returning to God. We cannot return to God with only a small portion of who we are. We are to surrender our complete selves.
God's love allows for us to surrender, while also experiencing loss. Heartbreak allows for God to speak to us in a new way, reminding us that God will "always be with us, even unto the ends of the earth."
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2019
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.