The Hell of the most Holy Ground (and Why it is so hard to love the most hurting)

Psalm 34:18 says that Jesus is close to the broken hearted and saves those crushed in spirit.  

I have seen this first hand and it is a powerful force of love!
I have learned that Jesus come so close to the suffering through the torchbearers of His people.

A Jesus kind of LOVE is a light that pierces the darkness….. A love that lights up the blackest of skies…..


But How do you love the complicated hurting heart??  How do you stay close when you are feeling pushed away from those you love and are hurting with? Why is it so hard to try and help those who are grieving?

These are all valid questions and NEED to be talked about in our “grief-ignorant” culture.  Open conversations are SO important to help build empathy and understanding for others!

I am sharing my heart very openly here to help be a voice for my hurting family and for those who grieve and are trying to live in a world that now feels so foreign and for those who walk with broken hearts and are desperately trying to live parallel to those who really do not understand.

I hope you will take the time to read this post and try to understand the  “most broken of all hearts”…… just by opening your heart, you can be a powerful LIGHT in the darkness.

mom w littles 3



Have you ever had a limited data plan on your phone and realized you had to be very mindful of your resources and very proactive and selfish and wise about the amount of time you spent surfing the web and filling up on all kinds of information that was pretty much useless when weighed against the most important tasks of the big world wide web?!  Then, all of a sudden you run out, and you’re like, “well, that is that…no more space for anything else…should have been more careful to reserve precious data!” 

 Yeah, that is what it feels like to walk the earth grieving your baby in heaven and caring for your babies on earth and loving your spouse well and caring for yourself well…..there is VERY LIMITED BRAIN SPACE and just NO more bandwidth left for things that there used to be space for.

Grief is work.  Grief is such hard work…..

It is plain flat out exhausting to carry “your” pain along with the pain of your hurting immediate family. There is just simply no extra bandwidth left for anything else…even if it was important prior to life falling apart, it can not be carried on this side of tragedy….it is not possible.

So, I have personally learned that Prioritizing my emotional space and the heart-space of my family has become of utmost importance in my life! I have grown so much this past year. Grief HAS changed me and that is a fact. I have been re-wired and there is no sugar-coating it! It is a fact and I have come to accept that.

Some people do not like this part of my grief and it makes them uncomfortable and dare I say, “mad!”  Well, you know what?! It makes me uncomfortable too. I hate being changed because of the fact that I had to give my baby back to Jesus and I can no longer hold her on earth again. I hate that I have to feel this torture every day.

I (more than anyone else) want to be normal again. I want her back.

But normal is NO MORE. Torture changes you.



I’m changed, re-wired and that has to be okay with the world.

The blue skies fell.  

It has to be okay that I am not okay anymore.  It has to be okay to the world that I can not carry what I used to carry.  That I have no extra emotional space for the things I used to have space for. That I can no longer lug the baggage I used to be able to shoulder. That I have to be so careful with the limited heart space and limited brain space that is left after shouldering the anguishing pain of missing my baby girl moment to moment! This is a precious resource guarded for my immediate family!

For the first time in my life, I have learned the freedom of setting boundaries to protect mine and the emotional fragility of my family.  For the first time ever, I feel freedom to have a voice to protect my emotional well-being!  This freedom of voice has come with much counsel and at a great cost, but it is a precious treasure in the darkness to learn to be able to speak up for yourself and to keep unnecessary drama or heaviness away.

I never had this confidence before, I guess because I never needed it so much. But, really it was not about that…it was about the old me wanting to please everyone and being scared of disappointing those around me and feeling a burden to be “okay” to everyone else and to stay “sun-shiney.”

However, something about grief just truly releases you from those bondages and (for myself) I discovered a new world of beautiful freedom in Christ. A freedom to just BE…to just BE what I need to be so Christ can BE for me!

Because, in my deepest suffering, I have found a JESUS who sees me and is with me in all the horrible pain! He lets me sit in the wrongness of it all and He sits right there with me (showing me His scars) and promising me that HE agrees that IT IS NOT OKAY!

It is so NOT okay that He had die to make a rescue plan! He does not expect anything from me in my pain, He only sits with me and laments with me as He bleeds out for my rescue! Bleeding For my hope. He shows me that my pain was worth dying for and so He does not dismiss it but cries out with me and lets me lament.



This is a post for not only those who grieve, but for those who desire to walk the holy ground close with the grieving.  Let me be bold and step up on my soap box for a moment! Please hear my gentle, yet passionate plea….. if you are walking this tender, delicate road of suffering with someone you love and you are tempted to “feel hurt” or tempted to “judge them” or “shame them” because their grief has changed them or affects you in an uncomfortable way…PLEASE….Please take a moment and hear my heart!

IT IS NOT THAT THEY DO NOT LOVE YOU, it is just that they have very limited resources and can not love like before.  

….so how do you love a complicated broken friend or family member?

Jesus is the example for those who want to know how to love the “hard to love!”

Just let them BE. let them be in pain without needing to fix them so “you” can feel better.

It’s ok that it’s awkward and different than before. Life will not look the same. Traditions will not look the same. Holidays will not look the same. Day to Day will NOT look the same.  Phone conversations and texts will not look the same.

Your relationship with them will be different.  Everything is affected.  Just let them BE and wait with grace. Grief is a blanket that covers EVERYTHING.

Their life has suffered great trauma. Unimaginable trauma.

Do not make those who suffer with grief feel guilty for not being okay!

Do not shame them or guilt them for not being the same person they used to be!

They carry a weight that should drown most people…it does drown them daily, and the best way to help them stay afloat is this:

GIVE THEM GRACE and respect their boundaries and LOVE them well and sit with them in the grief…even if from a distance… 

Love them with no expectations!

That is LIGHT in their darkness!


How do you love the most broken:

Be a Jesus-love LIGHT in their life and Mirror their pain, and just sit in agreement with them without needing to fix them or make them who they used to be!

Suppose you are tempted to say things off the cuff, based on your own hurt! Well….I ask that you take a second to think about how you could change your words to show more empathy and unconditional love!

Try to be careful to not guilt or judge or criticize them but instead, mirror their pain!

How about….

Instead of:  “I miss who you were, who you used to be!”

say:  “This sucks! I miss your baby with you..she should be here with you!”

Instead of: “I do not like the person you have become (I know, sounds so cruel, right! but people actually say these terrible things)

say: “I hate this broken world with you and I hate death and I am here for you!!!”

Instead of: “you do not reach out to me or make me a priority anymore or act like you care about “me” anymore!”

Say:  “I can not imagine the burden of pain you must carry every moment and I want you to know I sit with you in the wrong-ness of it all and am here for you and I ache with you!”

Instead of: “You are so selfish and all you think about is yourself!”

Say, “I love you and I hate this new reality “with you” and I am praying for you!”




IT IS LIGHT to their darkness!



I get it, it is hard!

It is hard to love like Jesus. But, your love has the power to be a light.


Yup…It is so hard to love a grieving person. They are messy and complicated and self-centered!  And they can not love you well back right now! They just can’t and won’t be able to for an immeasurable and unpredictable amount of time.

Grief has no timetable.

But …. if you want to stay in their life, You must love them right where they are.  It takes such an unconditional LOVE to love them selflessly without expecting anything in return, and To always remember the pain they carry!

They simply can NOT love you well right now…..THIS MAY BE FOR A SEASON, IT MAY BE FOR FOREVER.

Grief doesn’t just fade away over time …. because  love never fades away. They will hurt forever  because they love forever and well, pain changes people. This life is broken in a deeper way for them.

PAIN CHANGES PEOPLE! But a JESUS kind of love changes people too and brings light.

Your hurting loved one may be changed forever…. and that has to be okay if you want to stay in a relationship with them! It has to be okay that they are not going to be okay! If you can not handle this then it is better to stay away then to corner them with unnecessary guilt and bring extra darkness that they can’t carry and should NOT have to.

You can not fix them or change them…… you have to accept them. Pain and all.

A Jesus kind of love that loves selflessly right where they are. That is a beautiful thing.

A beautiful BRAVE thing.

Because if you decide to courageously stick around, despite the awkwardness and despite the awkward relationship change, and despite how hard it is for you…..then you may not only  be a witness to the great pain, but you will also be a witness to a special light return in a miraculous way.

Your person will be different always.  And, When the light finally returns, it will look different than before.

Their light will be changed. It will shine but it will shine differently.  It will be more complicated.  It will be a new light and it will be more dimensional, less understandable and multi-faceted and more complex than before.

But it will be light.

This new light, that will one day break through the darkness, will be a broken and busted up kind of light.

BUT….It will break the darkness and you do not want to miss this miracle because you were too offended by the pain.

This new light will reflect many shattered shards of glass, but it “will” shine again…..  The light will return…..but the pain will always be there too.  It is a mess of joy and sorrow. Pain and praise and it takes a brave person to walk close to this mess.

Pain will win most days and joy will hide…However, Joy WILL return (to walk close with the pain) and I do not want you to miss beauty rising from all the brokenness.






….My encouragement to you is to so just wait …wait with grace  ..wait with love……wait for light. 

Wait with no agenda or timeline. Put your needs aside to love “the broken” well.  It is hard but it is holy.

Hard but HOLY.

Let Jesus fill you up as you give out…and  if you LOVE them like Jesus does… you may be a witness to LIGHT in the darkness, a special beauty that blooms out of the pain.

If you lay aside your uncomfortableness then you may see something new being born.

You just can not be afraid of their thorns so that you can be able to see the beauty bloom again.

They now walk with new thorns in the flesh, and they now leak from their bloody wounds and they hurt in a way that they would not even ever wish on their worst enemy.

So, LOVE THEM as the new person they are, not the person they used to be or the person you want them to be.

Love them as they limp forward.

Love them, thorns and all just where they are.

Grief is selfish and it is very self absorbed…but if you lost your child … you would understand that their heart resources are scarce and must be guarded fiercely.

Your grieving loved one needs to not be guilted, shamed or manipulated and you simply need to try to understand that he/she will be laying down her boundaries around their family to guard that limited bandwidth they now have… there’s no bandwidth for anything else. They are fiercely protecting their heart space.

This is survival. They need to protect that limited emotional brain space! DO not take this personal.

IT is survival.  

This is the ugliness of walking close to the grieving. This is the ugliness of death and the broken world and YES IT SUCKS! These are the thorns of a broken world.  But, Love ….a Jesus kind of LOVE is light in the darkness! It’s balm to the hurting hearts.

Our family has felt this kind of love and it is literal light that pierces the darkness.

IF you can love in this brave, and selfless way…..Beauty will rise out of the depths of pain and you will get to witness this miracle because you loved like Jesus.  Because you were brave enough to love the most broken in a “giving and outstretched” and broken kind of way.

You may get to see a miracle but you  just can not be afraid of the bloody thorns that will also touch you. You can not be afraid of the mess.

This is how to love like Jesus.  This is how to walk close to the grieving.

This is how to sit on the holy ground with the “bleeding out” ones who are now changed forever.

This is how to be a witness to the pain and to the coming light.


This is how to love the unlovely!

This is how to stay close so you do not miss the joy coming!


This is how to be a torchbearer in the darkness!

Joy will return to their life. Pain will always walk the parallel path but Joy will also return.

Light will return.

A new light will reflect off all the painful broken pieces.

DO not miss the light that is birthed from all the pain by missing the sacred opportunity to be a LIGHT to them right where they are at!

Just wait in the dark, bring the TORCH and wait….wait until the BLUE returns to their sky.

This is the HOLY HOLY GROUND of walking with the ones who hurt like HELL.



See the powerful song below….it is truth. 

Be the ONE who waits for the BLUE skies to return.  

mom w littles 2

Steven Curtis Chapman – ‘Til The Blue (feat. Gary Levox) Lyrics

There are no words
No answers for questions like these
Even the right ones wouldn’t change anything…or fix anything
Even if we knew the reasons
It’s still gonna hurt
They say it’s just gonna take time
But right now there’s just too much time…and no way to find
The secret to speed up the changing of seasons
‘Til the blue returns to your sky
‘Til the laughter returns to your eyes
I’ll be here to cry with you
And right here to give you a song
To help you
go on until you are strong
‘Til the blue returns…’Til the blue returns to your sky
So here are my hands
They’re not able to put back the pieces you’ve lost
Or push back the rivers of sadness you’ve crossed…I’m sorry they’re not

But here they are…reaching out
to help carry you through
‘Til the blue returns to your sky
‘Til the laughter returns to your eyes
I’ll be here right beside you
And I will remind you of how
The sun will break through the clouds
I know it’s so hard to believe it right now
So let m
e believe for you
‘Til the blue returns to your sky
‘Til the blue returns to your sky
‘Til the laughter returns to your eyes
I’ll be here to cry with you
And right here to give you this song
To help you go on until you are strong
It won’t be long ‘til the blue returns…the blue will return to your sky
There are no words…It’s still gonna hurt
So here are my hands…’Til the blue returns to your sky




2 thoughts on “The Hell of the most Holy Ground (and Why it is so hard to love the most hurting)

Add yours

  1. Thank you for your words of hard truth to those of us who are walking with the grieving and trying to love them well but are messing up. This hard truth that was born out of your unspeakable loss is already spreading the good light of a Jesus kind of love that we all need to be better at. Thank you, thank you…


  2. Dear Johanna, we don’t know one another other than what we share on FB. I do know we both love Jesus and He has given us a love and concern for orphans. ❤ For reasons unknown to me, God brought you to my mind today. Praying for you, your newest treasure and your family. May God make His healing and awesome Presence known in your lives and home. Blessings, dear Mama of many! I’m thankful you’ve chosen love over fear amidst the pain. May God be glorified. (((Hugs)))


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