When I was a young girl, I often sat in the backseat of our car and gazed out the window. I wondered about other people’s lives in the car traveling down the road next to me. In 15 seconds, imagined what their homes might be like, how many kids they had, and contemplated what problems they might from day-to-day.
Last week, a friend invited me to a new Facebook group called “View From My Window.” The group compiles more than two million people from all over the world. The idea behind the group is to help people know that they are not alone. The members share a picture with a view from their window; they include the country they’re in and the date the photo was taken. Often, an individual will share a little of their story with their picture-these are my favorite posts to read.
It’s been quite a journey looking through another’s lens, and getting a glimpse of what life is like in diverse places that I will likely never visit. I am gobstruck by the fact that the entire world is on hold, sheltering in place; it’s unprecedented for our time.
Recently, I read a Brazillian woman’s post. She wrote that she is sheltering in place with her ill 88-year-old mother as her two daughters, who are both young doctors, work in a COVID-19 ward. She added, “My heart is tight, but I’m trying to be strong.” I wish I could hug that woman.
Yesterday, my heart ached when I read Carol’s story. She shared that she and her husband are now empty nesters after losing their seventeen-year-old daughter in a car accident last year. She shared how she felt relief that the rest of the world slowed their cadence, mirroring her new reality. At last look, more than ten thousand people showered Carol with condolences and well-wishes. Her pain did not go unnoticed.
A few days ago, a man posted a picture of his backyard. Old buckets and plywood laid strewn throughout the dirt, and weeds had attached themselves to the rickety wooden fence. I cannot remember his caption except that his sarcasm and whit made me smile. His post hit a nerve, and person after person shared their relief that they weren’t the only ones with less than the ideal view. I do remember one older woman commenting, “Look at all of your lovely wooden flower boxes, looks like you’ve got work to do.” That made me laugh out loud.
A few days ago, I received a thoughtful message from a woman I’ve never met. Mia wrote that her son was killed almost two years ago in a tragic mishap. She wrote to encourage me to keep telling my story and added, “It’s making a difference.” The thing is, we all have a story to tell. For the Christian, ours is a story filled with redemption and hope, and we’re selfish not to share it.
Today, I finally took of the view from my front window. At first glance, you might notice the baseball-sized hole in the bottom right corner panel, thanks to our resident slugger. But, if you look a little further, you’ll see the large dirt field. It was empty this morning, but for the last week, plows and tractors have filled the air with their deep hum from morning to dusk. The farmers have been busy plowing the land for their next cotton crop. We’ve had dust for days, but it’s worth it because once the cotton takes root, and the bushes begin the bloom, the sea of green and white is a sight to behold!
In many ways, I can see how my view resembles my current circumstances. Much liked our cracked window, so am I in my grief-stricken state. And, like the plowed-up field, the process of healing includes the uprooting of my heart.
J.R. Miller once wrote,
“Sorrow offtimes is God’s plow. We dread pain and shrink from it. It seems destructive and ruinous. The plow tears its way, with is keen, sharp blade, through our hearts-and we say we are being destroyed! When the process is completed, and we look upon the garden with its sweet flowers, growing-we see that only blessing, enrichment, and beauty are the result. We complain of our suffering, but we cannot afford to have suffering taken away.” The Work of the Plow” (Grace Gems)
That last line, “we cannot afford to have suffering taken away,” I get it! Because it’s been here, in my most profound hurt that the Lord has pulled me close to Himself. In my “ruin,” I have tasted and sees that He is good, even when it hurts.