Tuesday, April 10, 2012

when words feel hollow

She tells me she’s getting a divorce.
She sits across the table from me, shy-eyed, barely touching her tea.  It’s her first time in my home.  Her court date is on Thursday.
I want to reach out and cup her heart in my hands.  
I hold her eyes with mine instead, trying to communicate love, trying to let her see how much I genuinely care.  I see a glimpse of a smile.  
Her little 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter has a pixie grin, dimples, dark elfin hair.  She was born with a defect related to one of her kidneys which required its removal and created extra tissue all throughout her abdomen, and though surgery fixed the problem, she goes for bi-annual checks to make sure the condition doesn’t return.  I sense the mother’s protectiveness of her daughter, her pride in her impish, intelligent nature.  
I can feel her terror.  Her husband wants custody of their little girl.  
She’s suffered abuse from him for the two years they’ve been married, and she’s finally calling it quits.  He’s been slandering her to the court, telling them she’s a bad mother.  They’ve agreed to watch him at home with his daughter for one day - and around the table we agree that of course for that one day he’ll be on his best behavior.  Her sister (my house helper) told me her little niece doesn’t like her Daddy.  When she asked her why, the pixie said matter-of-factly, “He beat my mommy.” 
My helper told me her sister feels like she’s wasted the last two years of her life.  With her sitting in my kitchen, I tell her I believe God has a purpose for everything, even when life hurts beyond belief.  I tell her when I listen to her story, my heart aches and I ask God, “Why???”  I tell her I don’t understand either.  Looking into the dark fathomless depths of her eyes, my words sound and feel hollow.  
I tell her our lives are part of a carpet God is weaving, and the back view that we see sometimes looks ugly, ugly, ugly.  But from the front God can see the flowers and the beautiful pattern He’s creating.  I’m not sure she believes me.  She attempts a smile.  I watch her eyes drop.  She quietly says, with a hollow laugh, “Think I could just not show up on Thursday?  I don’t want to go.”  
We drink more tea, eat rice and vegetables for lunch, hand out yogurt cups as a treat for the kids.  I try to be as natural as possible.  I crack little jokes and am rewarded by laughter.  Will I ever know whether she felt truly loved or not, or whether she just felt dazzled by her first time in a foreigner’s home?  Is God’s love through me making any difference at all?  
Before they leave, I offer to pray.  I ask haltingly for peace, for wisdom, for a good outcome on Thursday.  Afterwards I think of so many more things I could have prayed for, and it’s hard not to feel glum.  
She bundles her little girl into her snow clothes (it’s snowing again today - so much for spring), and the pixie flashes me a dimpled smile and tries “Bye” in English.  I hug her mom, meet her eyes once more, tell her we’ll be praying for Thursday, follow them out to the gate.  I feel so helpless.  My heart is aching.  
What more do I have to give than what I gave?  The only love that can fill her heart is Christ Himself.  May soon she come to know the only Husband who always loves tenderly, heals compassionately, and births beauty out of ashes.  

{Postscript: Three days later the court granted her a divorce and custody of her little girl.  However, her ex-husband is still terrorizing her every chance he gets.  My heart aches for her; she’s been set free in the world’s eyes, but she’s still in terrible bondage to fear and doubt.  She desperately needs to meet the true Lover of her soul so she can be free indeed.}

1 comment:

  1. What a sad story! It's hard to believe in that final, beautiful tapestry in the face of such ugliness. I'm glad she was granted custody! How God's heart must just break in pieces, if we mere humans can feel pain for others.