My Bleeding Hearts

I remember it well, the wondering if I would ever feel happy again.  Ever smile a genuine smile.  Wondering if the heartbreak that threatened to pull me apart would ever quiet to a distant ache.

It was May.  So busy and so awful.  I carried a pain that made me pace circles around my house unless there was something needing immediate attention.  My only coherent thoughts came in prayer.  I bought a number 7 to put on my kitchen counter, a reminder of the people who needed me to hold it together somehow.

On a walk to visit a neighbor, I noticed bleeding hearts in bloom.  I’ve always loved them, but this was different.  It felt like the only thing in the world that might understand me. This achingly beautiful, heart shaped flower with a teardrop falling from it.  It was everything I couldn’t say aloud.  So I drove to the local nursery, found one, bought it… and nurtured it carefully all summer in it’s pot.

At the end of the season, too overwhelmed to find a proper spot for it but too attached to get rid of it, I dug a hole in the first spot I thought of in my yard.  A spot where I’d tried  other perennials over the years.  A spot where NOTHING had ever grown back before.  That’s why it was bare.  Not a good spot of dirt, apparently.  But I planted it anyway because it was all I could manage that day and I couldn’t bear to throw it away.

Imagine my surprise the following spring when it came back.

And every year since.

It stops me in my tracks every time:  it’s so much more than bleeding hearts.  It’s my heartbreak, growing in the worst soil, and thriving.

Today, years later, I sit near them just to be there, to look and admire, and remember.  I remember those days, days made harder by knowing we were only at the beginning of a road I desperately wanted to avoid.  And it has been long and hard, sometimes excruciatingly so.  I don’t know where the road ends, or if it ever will during my life.  I know so much more, and so much less, than I did then.  What a journey!

Today, here is what I know:  God knows us and is aware of us.  He gives us bad soil sometimes, and it’s up to us to plant what we’ve got and press forward.  To show up and keep moving and do our best to love.  Even if we’re doing it with broken, bleeding hearts.  And somehow, He will find a way to let us know He’s still there.  Somehow the sharp pain settles to a dull ache, and the day eventually comes that we smile and laugh for real.

And the bleeding hearts come back again:  stronger, more beautiful.  A witness.

I’ll never take it for granted.  Truly, all things testify of Him.

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