This was written as a Contributor piece for the Joy Of It blog
Our family recently moved to a new town, and the process of finding a rental house was difficult. No house is perfect and even our group of finalists each had little drawbacks. In the end, I was most drawn to the house we’re now living in because of all its windows. There are oversized windows that line the living, family, and dining rooms and they showcase a beautiful view. The windows won me over.
I guess my strategy with change this last year was to pile it on all at once. So along with a new town and a new house and a new job, I thought it would a good time to start Grad school. Classes have been exhilarating and as I juggle school workload with home life I find myself doing as much of my reading and writing as I can in front of our prized windows. I feel connected to the outdoors and can see all that is happening around me.
One day, while sitting near my beloved windows, I witnessed a sparrow fly into the large pane of glass at full speed and get knocked out cold. I sat staring at the poor bird resting lifelessly on the roof shingles and wondered if it was dead. It was flat on its back and all I could see was that it was still breathing. It was eventually able to get back on its feet and slowly began to move.
That bird had no idea what hit her – or in actuality, what she hit.
Over the next few months, three different birds have flown straight into one of our windows. Each time they got knocked out, and each time, eventually, they recover. One of my daughters suggested that we print pictures of eagles and tape them to the windows so that birds would steer clear and not get hurt. But, the world has lots of windows, and I’m not sure they can be avoided.
As I saw this scene play out on three separate occasions, my empathy for these birds grew. I hated seeing them crash into something that they couldn’t see, discern or plan for. This invisible wall hit them hard and caused their lights to go out. But, they didn’t stay in the dark permanently.
I felt connected to these small, frail animals. I saw myself in them.
I know what it feels like to gain momentum and move with a swiftness toward something you seem sure of, and then run into an invisible wall. A wall that you didn’t see coming. A wall that knocked the wind out of you and left you reeling on the floor in the dark.
There isn’t adequate space in a single blog post to provide the backstory of life leading up to the moment of impact, but let me provide a bit of context.
My husband and I had spent 12 years in Central California. We had many monumental experiences in that place. We bought our first home and filled it with four children. We dreamed together with friends about planting a church and saw that dream come to life and begin to flourish. We lived among a vibrant community and eagerly pursued a vision of seeing our local church impact our city.
We were established, settled, and had dreams of a bright future there. But, that isn’t how the story ends. We flew into a window and in a completely abrupt and unexpected turn of events we left the place we had known as home. God was speaking clearly through the transition, for which I am so grateful, but it didn’t minimize the grief. It was intense and the darkness covered me.
As I began my journey through a season of darkness I spent so much time trying to figure out what had happened, and how it could have been avoided. I felt crippled, unable to get back on my feet and start the process of healing.
When I finally began to pick up my feet and move, I was reminded that movement and exploration are what I am made for. Even when movement is painful, it is necessary. Unfortunately, pain can be part of healing. In my case, it helped me remember the exhilarating feeling I experience when moving forward with intention and purpose towards a vision, towards my calling, towards Jesus.
Even when we run into something that we couldn’t see or didn’t plan for, in the darkness, we are not alone. Pain catches us by surprise, and so does God.
“He restores my soul….” Psalm 23:3
Surely, you knew pain.
Surely, you knew what it meant
to breathe in and out
and look fear in the eye
and say that you
were going to be stronger
in the end.
Surely you knew
what it would take
to give birth to
your own death,
to quiet your soul
after hours of hanging.
And surely you knew
that those days of pain
would birth you again
into this new form of yourself
that you’d been waiting for
for so long.
May we lean into
ourselves that way,
leaning into you,
into the process of being human
and understanding our pain
as though it has something
important to teach us.
Lean us into our pain,
lean us into our strength,
lean us into
Lean us into you.
—Kaitlin B. Curtice