Capacity: the maximum amount a container can hold.
No, I didn't look that up - I remembered it! I taught a first grade unit on capacity. We filled all sorts of containers with beans, marbles, rice, etc. to learn about the topic. Capacity looks a little different however when we are talking about the human heart.
When I returned to State College from Christmas break, my little sister (of my host family) lovingly and excitedly informed me I was going to be a big sister again! My host mom was pregnant with Baby O #4. I continued to live with them through the months of pregnancy. I saw the days in which Mom felt great and could conquer the world - I saw the days where she was so sick she had to call reinforcements in to help - I saw the days where dropping a green bean on the floor could bring her to tears.
The ups and downs; the goods and the bads. I saw it all. Month 8 of course, she became increasingly uncomfortable - ready to be relieved.
Tyler Joshua Benjamin O. joined the world on August 9th at 10:03pm.
The next day I went to the hospital to meet my new little brother. I had a flood of
emotions - never have I held a newborn. Let me preface that I have come to love my three other "little siblings" over time. When I arrived one year ago, we took time to get to know each other. I built relationships with each of them. I love them dearly - but it was something that grew with time.
I walked in to the hospital room a bit nervous. My host mother looked beautiful. Her eyes sparkled and her skin glowed. Her smile radiating pride and confidence. She was stunning - no one would know about the labor pains or how uncomfortable she recently was. What was born out of the pain made the process fade so quickly into the background of the past that it was no longer even a thought to her, let alone anyone else.
My host mom placed baby Tyler into my arms. My eyes welled with tears. I felt like the Grinch. "In Whoville they say - the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day." I was struck with a capacity to love like I have never experienced. I knew that in the ten seconds I settled him in my arms, I would do absolutely anything for him. I loved him instantly with words I can not explain.
Tyler has helped increased my capacity to love.
My engagement ended over a year and a half ago. Yet, in many ways, I still feel like I am bearing it. There are days where everything is perfect - I've found my confidence again and I can conquer the world. Call it weakness or just allowing myself to feel, there are days when I feel sick. I struggle to get out of bed. Those are the days which I question myself. What did I do wrong? How could I have changed things? Did I really deserve it? Why wasn't I enough? I make myself sick trying to come up with answers to the thousand questions that still linger in my mind. And I have other days where the green bean on the floor can make me cry. It could be a song, something someone says, a vehicle, inside joke, dream or just the release of allowing myself to feel the injury.
In all honesty, today is a green bean day for me.
Recently on the phone to my mom, I was having a difficult time with the lingering pain of my broken engagement. "I just thought I would be past this all by now, Mama. Why does it still bother me this much? Why does it still hurt so bad? WHEN will this STOP?!"
Leave it to my beautiful and wise mother to soothe my weary heart. "Sweetheart, you're still in the process of carrying this. It will take time. The labor pains come and they hurt - they create the discomfort and the doubt. But when God births the beauty out of all this, you won't recall the painful process. You will simply hold in your arms and praise Him for the precious miracle He gives you."
This was about one week before Tyler was born. God knows I am a visual and experiential learner. Holding Tyler in my arms was the tangible truth of my Mom's wisdom. I needed to see the beauty and strength of my host mom; the precious and perfect miracle of the baby. In that moment, a hope for my future family was renewed. I realized that my ability to love another selflessly was not lost in the devastation of my broken heart. Hope renewed. Joy awakened. Strength infused.
Is there a lingering pain you continue to experience? Wondering if it will ever go away or if you will ever be able to fully heal? Whoever said time heals all wounds was an nincompoop and a liar. Time heals little to nothing. Jesus is the healer. JESUS heals all wounds. "He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3. "He collects every tear." Psalm 56:8.
You may still be carrying it (unfortunately there is no nine month limit). You may be experiencing the labor pains right before the release of something beautiful. Rest in the promise that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him. That He will not give you more than you can bear. That He redeems and restores that which the locust took away.
Don't grow weary, give up, or become so frustrated that you lose sight of the cross of grace and only see yourself. It's coming. It will be so worth it.
Experiencing a heart of pain will always increase one's capacity to love if Christ is the one you allow to heal it.