Healing Doesn’t Work…

Confession: I’ve stopped trying to heal.

I came home from Uganda in April…shell-shocked and in survival mode. We let down our defenses and I immediately got to work…doing my best big girl job to heal. I did all the right things…went to my counselor within less than 24 hours of arriving on US soil. We took a month at the beach to adjust to the western culture and to quietly unlock the grief box. And I did pretty well. I grew angry and shook my fist at God, I doubted and questioned, and then grew sad–unashamedly sad, and the stages of grief rapidly unfolded in textbook fashion.

But then we walked back in to life, to new ministry, and in to a different home…and I found myself shelving the grief. When I did address it, my feelings were as raw as before. I was shocked. Had I not faced my disappointment with God, pain, and suffering head on? Had I not decided to do this real and in the raw, masking nothing…feeling the feels. Why was I not healing?

Recently, I stumbled upon these words:

“Recovery is a misleading, and empty expectation. We recover from broken limbs, not amputations. Catastrophic loss by definition, precludes recovery. It will transform us or destroy us, but it will never leave us the same.”  

(Jerry Sittser, A Grace Disguised, 73)

Truth found: The loss of two children and the knowledge of their current status…and the inability to do a damn thing about it…will transform or destroy me. Transform or destroy. Transform or destroy. It is my choice.

Who am I? This or the other?

Am I one person today and tomorrow another?

Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others, and before myself a contemptible woebegone weakling?

Or is something within me still like a beaten army fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?

Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine. 

Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am thine! 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

In my current state I know not who I am. I am so very different than the wide-eyed woman filled with wonder of the world beyond our America…excited to walk and do life among the culture of my future children. Rolling with the punches and the court-mandated relocations, resilient, hopeful. Ready for the adventure of long term living in a foreign country and serving in this location; loving the children we had been given long enough to satisfy any court-ruling so that we might move forward a family a seven. We left Uganda–dreams slaughtered…having seen unthinkable pain, poverty, and experiencing personal loss. Never mind, leaving two children behind and in harms way. Lumps in our throats and confusion in our hearts. All plotted not by human hands but trusting and following the leading of a loving God. Who am I? Where are we headed from here?

“Catastrophic loss is like undergoing an amputation of our identity. It is the amputation of the self as a professional, if one has lost a job. Or the self as a husband, if one has lost a spouse through divorce or death. Or the self as an energetic and productive person, if one has lost good health. Or the self as a respected member of the community, if one has lost reputation. Or the self as pure and innocent, if one has been raped or abused. It is the amputation of the self we once were or wanted to be, the self we can no longer be or become.”  Jerry Sittser   (A Grace Disguised, 81)

This week we will close on a house in Holly Springs. An unexpected twist from our original plans, but one I can see as a place where we will experience tremendous health and transformation. Moving back toward our local church and in to the neighborhood of childhood family friends. Our Apex home was a wonderful place for our lives pre-Uganda…it was also a place filled with plans for a future that will never come. This new space represents the choice we are making to move toward transformation.

I am so glad I have given myself permission to stop trying to heal. What.A.Relief. It is not even close to something I am able to do. I also am okay with not knowing who I am and will rest for the time being, in Whose I am.

The choice I daily make moving forward from here: Transformation or Destruction? For some it may not be an easy one, but for me there is one obvious answer…and it is wrapped in freedom and hope. I will take Transformation for 500…Alex.

May You Be a Blessing and May You Be Blessed,





6 thoughts on “Healing Doesn’t Work…

  1. Jenni, I’m so with you in spirit. For 7.5 years, I have loved our adopted son with the fullness of a mother’s love that only a mother would understand. But it wasn’t enough. Our son is now in a residential treatment center, thousands of miles away, fully rejecting us as his family, determined to never be a part of our lives. The financial cost could seriously destroy us. The emotional cost cannot be counted. There are days when I live well, and then there are days I barely live. The physical pain I carry in my heart is indescribable. You are right – “healing” is a mirage. I can ONLY trust that Jesus knows and He will sustain me, him, us. I can only trust that He is good and true and right and faithful and one day, one day, this really will be used for good to glorify God. Please don’t ask me to even guess how. With my limited human understanding, I’d really rather just have all my children all happy and under one roof. But for some reason, that isn’t how our story is being written. Keep on keeping on, Jenni. And be encouraged, you are not alone.


  2. Jenni and Chris. You both are such amazing people. I have always felt together you and Chris can do anything. I know God had a reason for picking you both to tackle this huge challenge. If anything it has made others realize anything can happen and you must push through.
    Congratulations on your new home in Holly Spings and the start of a new chapter. Love you both and glad you are home.


    1. Thank you for your kindness. We do stand firmly united and it helps with the sting of this world. I think that is the irony right…anything can happen…and it is our job to somehow remain faithful and full of faith. It is a wonder…it is a challenge…it is the best and only option. Grateful for you. We love you too!


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