dear hilary: the weight of all things

Dear Hilary,

My engagement has come to an end. I am devastated. The life that I thought I had, my direction, my focus, my plans for the future with this person that I so loved, have come to an end. There is no hope of return. I feel so lost. Where do I find God in this, when I feel so abandoned? When all the things I thought were promised for us are now dust? How can I even begin to figure out what is next for me? Please help,

Love,
Lost in nowhere

Dear Lost in nowhere,

Oh my dear. I am so completely, utterly sorry. I am so, so sorry. Your letter goes right to my gut when I read it, revisit it, looking for a way to reach through these electric cables and wi-fi signals and tell you that I am aching for you. And I do not understand how it hurts. But in the midst of the terrible mystery of it, and not understanding it, I wanted to reach over and whisper how very, very sorry I am.

Rilke once said, “Life is heavier than the weight of all things.” I wondered at that when I first read it. It seems obvious, somehow, that life is heavy, heavier. But then I thought about how we calculate ourselves into knots. How we try to add up the heaviness to understand when we will heal. How we try to understand how much time will take to grow, to move, to be made whole when something becomes, as you say, dust. But time is not obedient to those calculations, and neither is grief, and neither is ache. So Rilke is right, and his counsel is what I want to give you: Life is heavier than the weight of all things.

You are in the unmeasurable heaviness, in a dark tunnel and right now, I do not want you to strain for light. We blind ourselves when we pretend we push ourselves to make meaning of it too soon. If the tunnel is dark, and there is no light to be seen, do not rush to see what and where and how and why. I’d so much rather you rage and get quiet and get loud and cry and then, stop, and then start again, at the pace and in the way that you must. Your body will tell you how to do this. It is okay to listen to it for a while. It is okay to feel the heaviness in your throat and your heart.

Do not rush to see where God might be going or where He is leading you, or where He will take you next. For though these things have a life, and they do, God does not ask you to see that before He gives you the light to see it by. In the unmeasurable heaviness, in the dark tunnel – He is not asking that of you.

I could tell you I think God is outside the tunnel waiting for you (He is, in a way, but that’s not the answer). I could tell you that He is next to you in the heaviness and the anchoring ache behind your heart that feels like a constant catch in your throat (He is there, too). But when we ask where God is, it is hard to know how to measure that. Could I whisper to you instead something about who God is?

God is the faithful.

This is not a faithful that means there is a “greater purpose” or a “meaning you just can’t see yet.” I call bullshit on that in this moment, because God’s faithfulness is not about that. It is about a promise to dwell in and among us. To be Emmanuel. To be walking in our midst and to draw near when we cry out. God’s faithfulness is a promise of nearness.

So when you cry out, “WHERE ARE YOU?” in your room and in your car and in your office and when you ache with others or by yourself and in the unmeasurable heaviness, in the life heavier than the weight of each thing you wonder,

you cry out to one who is faithful.

You cry out to one who made love manifest in a body, and that One who took on our flesh took on our heaviness took into himself all that we carry and all that we cannot carry. You cry out the truth – that this is a devastating thing, a thing that should not have been, and your cry will reach him. Your cry – if it is anger and sadness and the weight of all things and confusion, just as you wrote to me -

Ask him where he is. Ask him to show himself to you, in the weight of all things and the heaviness beyond it. Your cry will reach him.

Love, always,
hilary

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3 thoughts on “dear hilary: the weight of all things

  1. You would be an excellent Christian counselor. I would tell you to consider that for school/profession if I didn’t worry that very thing could distort your natural gift–sometimes dark and twisty things can be found in those programs. So maybe you should simply offer help on your own as you’re already doing sans anything else O:)

  2. THIS. Reminds me of a tearful conversation held in a dorm room late one night. “Emmanuel.” Personal, near. I’m coming to believe this too! Thanks for preaching the gospel, Hil! We can’t hear it enough.

  3. This comment is actually for Lost in Nowhere, though Hilary you are brilliant. I had to say something because something very very similar to your situation happened to me, so I know that devastating feeling of being lost in nowhere like someone pulled the rug out from under you. But there are three things that have helped me and I wanted to share them incase they might help you too. First of all, as Hilary says, you have to let yourself grieve, and somehow accept that you may not ever know why, though I suspect someday you will look back and understand. You have to let yourself not know what is next for now. But you have to keep going. If you need to, break things down into small doable moments. Focus on what needs to be done this minute, or hour. Eventually you will get to the point of doing things day by day, week by week, month by month, and maybe year by year, though honestly I’m still going month by month and my relationship like this ended nearly two years ago. And that’s ok. Thirdly, around this time I went to see a counselor, and the most helpful thing she did besides just to listen was to point out that it wasn’t my fault. A relationship takes two people to be invested in it fully, and if he was not at a point in his life, or with me, or whatever, that he could be invested, there was nothing I could ever do to fix that. It was on him. So grieve for your loss, for it is an astronomical one, but don’t beat yourself up about it, and give yourself the time to move slowly and figure out where you can go next. And don’t be afraid to turn to friends and family. I ended up forming stronger relationships with several friends and family members as a result, and though it came from pain and heartbreak, is ultimately a good thing. I’m so sorry for you. And you may not believe it now, but slowly, sometimes frustratingly slowly, it does get better. And somehow, you just keep going. :)

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