When I see no hope only pain, God navigates his Grace to carry me where I need to be. In my struggle to heal, I am reminded of this passion-flower vine I bought two summers ago from a catalogue. I was sorely disappointed when it arrived looking as though it was about to die. I nursed it all summer and every time it grew, the new growth would break from being so weak and frail and it never produced a flower. I wanted to throw it away and cut my losses, but my husband stored it in the basement for the winter. The following year he pulled it out and placed it on my deck. I looked at this sad looking plant and didn’t see much hope for it. He encouraged me to nurture it for another season and remembering the scripture in (Luke 13 6-9) of the barren fig tree I gave it another chance. Well, to my amazement it produced the most beautiful, luscious flower I’ve ever grown. I couldn’t believe it came out of that weak looking vine, it didn’t look strong enough to even hold it. Isn’t it the same for us when our spirit is weakened by our traumatic experiences and we feel as though they are breaking us? Then to our astonishment the inner strength of God carries us to the fruit of life.
A few months ago at a family party I saw my cousin who pulled me aside to ask me to pray for her. She shared with me that she had finally left the abusive father of her 4 children and how hard it was. He took possession of her children and would not let her see them. She confided in me how much she loved and missed her children and will need a lot of prayer to get her kids back from him. We had suspected that he had been abusing her, but over the years she denied it. I remember once I was suspicious when I saw her with a broken arm and when I asked her about it she made excuses that weren’t plausible.
I will never take lightly again the request for prayer from anyone. Of course I prayed for her, but I ask myself did I pray enough? Was her request a cry for help that I did not recognize? My cousin recently decided to go back to him and try to work things out and be with her children. Yesterday they found her body beaten and strangled to death and left in the woods by a creek. His family found him burning his clothes in the back yard attempting to destroy the evidence. He then threatened to kill his parents if they told. Domestic violence is never acceptable, yet how do we protect those we love when their making choices we cannot control?
I suppose feeling somewhat responsible is part of the grieving process, at first I was angry. My heart has always been compassionate towards my cousin. Her parents divorced at a young age and her father moved far away. Her mother soon died, so my loving aunt raised her and her sisters, until she too died while they were still young. I’ve watched them struggle over the years and this is not how anyone wants to see their loved ones life end. I believe that like my passion-flower vine that struggles, looks dead and hopeless, something beautiful will emerge. I trust in the knowledge that when our faith is weakened God’s faith takes over, “ for when I am weak then I am strong “(2 Corinthians 12:10).
Please pray for my family as we go through this difficult time and also pray for those suffering through domestic abuse find safety and help. I don’t have the answers but I have some helpful links below. May God bless you and your generous friendship.