Yesterday we spent the better part of the day in the sunshine at the lake with dear friends, many of my people gathered in one place. My kids played freely, swimming, kayaking, jumping off the dock. We shared food and stories, traded laughs, chatted movies. But inside my heart hurt. My 11-year-old love lives in the deep divide between woman and child. She’s changing and growing; she’s wild and fierce and full of joy. I caught a glimpse of myself at that age and realized she’s the exact age I was when my life broke.
I’d spent all day on a lake too, laughing, playing, swimming with dear friends, my people. I was wild and fierce, full of joy. I went to bed that night delightedly spent, muscles exhausted from fun. The next morning I awoke, confused, afraid, broken. I learned things in the middle of the night no eleven-year-old needs to know, how trust can be broken, boundaries crossed, bodies violated, how freezing is normal, some tears come without sound and some hurts just don’t go away.
A few years back, a friend asked me if I could grieve for my 11-year-old self, to see her brokenness and respond. I remember thinking no, I couldn’t. I’d spent so much time learning to discern truth from lies, finding my voice to speak out, speak hope, speak anything. I’d wrestled with the question of God’s goodness and His sovereignty over suffering. Theologized and processed and prayed. And those days were not in vain.
Much growth comes from years unpacking stories shoved deep down and kept quiet. There is Truth, and He’s real and solid and good. He loves me. He never leaves me, not even in the broken hours of the night. But much of my processing remained on such a cerebral level.
Seeing my daughter on the lake broke my heart wide open again. I saw myself in her, remembered the carefree feeling of eleven before shame and anger took root, and I loved it. I grieved for that eleven-year-old Mary but know that she’s ok. She’s not forever broken. Morning comes shedding light into dark corners, warming, redeeming, healing.