In our language, we have this tendency to equate an emotion or an experience with a physical response. For example, I may describe an experience that “curled my toes” (which is how I described the sensation of Nathan learning to breastfeed) or something that makes me “want to throw up.” “Heart in my throat.” “Butterflies in my stomach.” Often, the physical response does literally correspond with the feeling (my toes did actually curl up when Nathan was nursing, and circumstances have caused me to be physically nauseous too many times to count, including Michael’s proposal of marriage, the actual wedding, and the birth of each of our children).
All lightheartedness (there’s another one) aside, I’m learning a new one this week. I know what it means to have a “heavy heart.” I have felt like there has been this large weight on my chest each day when I think about and pray for the Chapman family. It’s a little odd, really, since I don’t personally know them, but their story and their tragedy has stayed with me every day during the past week.
Michael and I went to Austin a few months ago to see Steven Curtis Chapman in concert (I wrote about it here). What an experience that was. What a picture of a godly family. What an inspiration to worship each day with joy and security and peace.
The boys and I were in the car today, and Nathan requested “the cwazy song.” Oh. There’s that feeling again. I found the CD and selected the song “Something Crazy” from SCC’s latest album…the one with the “Cinderella” song, which was inspired by his two youngest daughters – one of which is now in Heaven with her Prince. I quickly skipped past that one – I didn’t think I could listen to it and drive at the same time – and found “Cwazy,” one of our family’s favorites. We like to turn it on at home, crank up the volume, and dance around the living room together.
But today, even listening to the “dancing songs” made me very, very sad. After “Crazy,” the next song on the CD is “Children of God,” (We are the children of God/How can we keep from singing?) and I wondered, will the Chapmans ever be able to sing again? Would I? I mean, with joy? Will there be joy again? And “You Are Being Loved”: do they – especially their son – know that the Father is singing over them? Can they experience that right now?
I also remembered reading the “thank yous” on the sleeve of his latest CD and how he describes their daughter Emily as “our hero” and “truly a picture of beauty,” their son Caleb as a “tenderheart,” and Will Franklin as “go big or go home” …and it occurred to me how their family reflects my own: oldest girl who is a smart, independent, servant-leader; second-born son is tenderhearted; third son is passionate and energetic. This realization sinks my heart deeper with compassion for the visceral pain they must be experiencing right now as a family. I cannot imagine…but I do imagine, and that is what makes my heart so heavy.
One of the most significant life lessons for me over the past three years has been about fear. I have come to a place where I know that bad things are going to happen. Pain is going to happen. Tragedy is going to happen. And while I don’t wish for those things, I know I do not have to fear them because of God’s repeated promise to always be with me. From that place, I pray over and over for the Chapmans to have a very real sense of God’s presence with them, and that His presence will bring comfort and healing and wisdom to their family.
Someday our hearts will no longer be heavy. There will be no tears, no pain, no loss. Lord Jesus, come quickly.