Breakin’ Out the Tissues!

“Me, too…”

A funny thing happens the moment the font pixels hit the blog page. I want to give thoughts, emotions, and my story wings. I send the words out and, if I’m honest, hope they land on someone’s screen, comfortably settling in to evoke something in their world. Just me? I doubt it.

This blog never had pretentious goals. If you’ve read my About Fragrant Grace page, you know it’s not about me “performing” for anyone.

Then something unexpected happens.

I share something. It might be funny, flowery, or really raw—

Someone whispers a barely audible, “Me, too…”

Want to see a fairly emotionally reserved woman begin to soften? Want to see her puddle? Tell her she’s not alone. Tell her she has company in the pit. Or on the summit. It won’t matter if it’s the valley low or the mountain high, probably. In that instant there is connection in the emotionally-charged experience. Isn’t that what we crave? I lean intellectual pretty often. I love to “know stuff.”  But, there is nothing more precious than being “known” in a deep, connected way.

There’s something in empathy:

em·pa·thy

n.   1. the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another. *

There’s something different in sympathy:

sym·pa·thy

n.  1. harmony of or agreement in feeling, as between persons or on the part of one person with respect to another. 2. the harmony of feeling naturally existing between persons of like tastes or opinion or of congenial dispositions. 3. the fact or power of sharing the feelings of another, especially in sorrow or trouble; fellow feeling, compassion, or commiseration. *

I always appreciate the empathetic response. I do! But, I hold a special place in my heart for the quiet, maybe shaky, sympathetic “Me, too.” Do you?

To those who extend precious empathy, thank you. To the few, the brave, the “Me, toos” in my world—you are brave, and I appreciate you more than you know. Keep whispering—quietly, if you have to—but keep doing it. Build stunningly beautiful connection with glistening diamond emotional bridges between you and others.

We can all be brave together.

~Jennifer

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*Definitions from http://www.dictionary.com.

Sweet Grace Upon Grace: A Heaven Scent Story

Friends:
Sensitive readers should know this post includes general content related to abortion. There are no graphic details. Some may choose not to read it for personal reasons. Please make the decision that best suits your self care needs.
With gentleness and respect,
J~

But he gives us more grace.  James 4:6

I read something on a friend’s blog that touched my soul to the point of sweet tears. You know the kind? It’s not the viral story passed around to the point the author has long been lost. No, it was a personal story about her grandmother’s gardenias. It was so precious! You can read it here. Her story about gardenias halted my scrolling instantly; I had to read it. Gardenias are my very favorite flowers.

If you’re just getting to know me, you should know I’m olfactorily challenged. I have a lot of difficulty smelling much of anything, and those things I do notice, often register as a “stink” on the old scent-o-meter. I jokingly say there are four scents I can identify (lemon, orange, vanilla, and chocolate), but there is one scent that is so special to me I don’t include it with those four. My nose may have to be super-close to the blossom, but that scent! I know it, love it, and I think heaven just might be perfumed all over with it.

If you’re wondering why I have the fascination with these blossoms, I would honestly have to tell you a very personal story. Truthfully, it may be a good time to warn you—tissues may be needed. Honestly, I still have tears. They are sweeter now than they ever were, and sometimes they are mixed with joy and anticipation. This story is about Anna and me.

Anna is my daughter, but she isn’t with me now. She’s in heaven, where I’m sure she is beautiful, full of life and joy, and loving her life with Jesus. I try to imagine how she might look, but I can’t. Maybe my imagination just isn’t good enough, or maybe that’s part of the mystery revealed when I get there. It’s okay, though, because I am absolutely sure I will know her the moment I see her the other side of eternity. Words can’t express how I look forward to that treasured reunion!

My sweet daughter and me—it’s a sad story, and it’s not without a torrent of tears, emotions, and desperate moments. You see, Anna is in heaven, but not for pregnancy complications or illness. She was alive and healthy in utero, and then she was not. Sweet Anna was an innocent victim of my guilt, shame, and fear. I was young, single, afraid, and easily persuaded—and I chose to terminate the pregnancy by abortion. I could go on about the lies I was told and believed, the pressure I felt, or the excuses I had all those years ago. It would be meaningless. I don’t go there anymore, and I’m grateful.

Sometime later, I came to my senses and finally understood what I had done, and that’s when the floodgates started to fail. First, there were little cracks. Tears leaked out when I realized it was not just “tissue” that was removed. Steamy tears flowed when I understood there was life—a child—and her name was Anna. Suddenly, it was painfully real. Floodgates? What gates?

If ever there was a time to meditate on Titus 3:3, it’s raw moments like this—

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. NIV 

The life I lived in that season produced an ugly crop of all of the above. What better descriptors can there be? Every choice was driven by passion and pleasure-seeking. Sadly, words like wise or informed could never describe my lifestyle, but foolish and deceived sure did. In light of what I know now, I obviously disobeyed the clearly expressed will of God. Lastly, I cannot think of better words than malice and hatred to describe what is behind taking a life. Titus 3:3 accurately outlines my life at the time.

Healing from this kind of painful choice is a process. Those who have experienced it know; those who haven’t need to try to find empathy and compassion. My journey to healing included gentle, loving friends and a little study by Pat Layton titled Surrendering the Secret. I can’t say enough wonderful things about it. A small group of fiercely brave sisters shared a slice of life and walked through a portion of their healing together. I know no other women more courageous or encouraging than that little group of ladies.

It was during that study that my love for my daughter and for gardenias deepened and intertwined. When I smell that scent I think of my dear, sweet Anna. They are pretty inseparable to me now.

The journey included mourning the loss of my daughter, and while that was so very sad, it was a beautiful part of the healing process. At that time I could see the pain I caused and begin to understand it. I knew God, in his goodness and mercy, took care of Anna and me in the best way for each of us. I finally received a gift, the gift of “godly sorrow” (2 Corinthians 7:10a):

Godly sadness produces a changed heart and life that leads to salvation and leaves no regrets… (CEB)

Anna means “Grace.” There are remarkable things about that given name, the sweetest of which is that I had no idea what it meant at the time. I just knew her name was Anna. Have you ever heard that whisper in the stillness of the wee hours? I’m sure I heard it because I would never have chosen that name. Now I know just how perfect it is!

I share this with you, not for some anti-abortion discussion-rant to ensue, but so you know more about me and my experience, and (I hope) you’ll be blessed in some way. When I seek to plumb the depths of grace here at Fragrant Grace, it is not for you that I do it (though you may benefit by reading). I do it because I am constantly challenged in everyday life to remember the beauty of the grace I have received. In Anna’s story (what I used to think was my most serious sin), I have received beautiful grace—and my Abba Father went the extra mile to make sure I would hear and understand the amazing love and grace gifted to me.

And so, somehow there has been a connection between my sweet Anna, God’s grace, and gardenias. Gardenias are the fragrance of grace to me. I get lost in it every time. Of all the scents I can identify, this one is precious, beautiful, and likely a gift, too.

His grace pours over the story of Anna and me. Not that I deserved it, or it wouldn’t be grace.

Does a specific part of your story most clearly illuminate the grace you’ve been given? Not that we look in the rear view mirror as we travel the road of life so we miss the present moment, but doesn’t the magnitude of the offense seem to magnify the grace? I hope I never despise those things which (I thought) required the most grace. They will hold a special place in my heart so I can be ever thankful to God and more gentle with others.

Be blessed…

Humbly,

~Jennifer