"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

"A Heavy Heart" ©Lori Kiplinger Pandy

People say that when they don't know what else to say.

"It's always darkest before the dawn."
"There's a light at the end of the tunnel."
"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

It's not true.

Your heart is shattered into a million pieces. Your grief overwhelms you. You can't eat or sleep. Everything you know about your life now seems wrong.

But, hey! Perk up! In a little while you'll be stronger.

This has not been my experience.

When you are grief-stricken, down on you knees and weeping, you are not getting stronger.

You may be getting more empathetic.
You may be getting more faithful.
You may be getting clarity on what really matters in this world.
You may be getting bitter and angry.

You are not getting stronger.

No one handles tragedy well. Some of us crumble, some of us remain resolute. But stronger?

When you drop a piece of china, you do not make it stronger. It breaks.

You can do one of two things. You can sweep up the pieces carefully, and throw them away. Or you can gather the pieces together, and in a few months, when you are ready, you can takes those pieces and transform them into a mosaic - maybe a wall hanging or a garden stepping stone.

Those pieces are not stronger. They are renewed.

Just before Mass today, our pastor announced that a family in our parish lost their 23 year old son in an early morning car accident. I have no doubt their faith will sustain them, but they won't be stronger.

Their family will never be the same. There will always be a hole, a spot where someone belonged, but is no longer here. He will always be missed.

I know this, too, from experience.

If you really, truly understand grief, you know that it does not make you stronger. If you are faithful, and you allow God to lead you through the grief, through the mess, through the horror and sorrow, you will be transformed.

Not stronger, but renewed. Not better or whole, but more empathetic. More understanding. Kinder and more grateful.

No, what doesn't kill you does NOT make you stronger. But God can use it for grace, and we can be renewed.

The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem and gathers the dispersed of Israel;
Healing the broken-hearted and binding up their wounds. (Ps. 147:2-3)

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