Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Transparency.

If on that Sunday morning, Cindy (the driver that crashed her car through the Old Depot wall) had instead walked into the restaurant and announced to all of us in the dining room what was truly on her heart and mind, I wonder what would have happened. I can only speculate and then speak for myself, and after thinking long and hard about such a circumstance, I am almost certain that I would not have hardly more than turned my head her way.
She likely would have said something about being depressed and feeling suicidal. She may have talked about her marriage being one of strain and she could have shared that she felt like a failure and overwhelmed by her teenage son. She might have even said she didn't feel love or lovable in anyway- and her hopelessness would easily have been seen on her face.
What makes me sad and ache as we mark 7 years from that fateful day is that I rarely noticed peoples' hurts outside of that of my family and friends. Even then, oftentimes I missed the depth and reality of pain going on around me- sometimes because I chose to shrug it off and "their problem", other times because people around me are good at hiding their true selves.
Having someone's pain and hopelessness touch me in such a profound and life-changing, devastating way has caused me to be more sensative, more aware, more willing to be compassionate- more willing to really listen and desire to help- if only given a chance.
I started keeping a blog to allow my friends and family and check in with what was going on in my life and to see my kids as they grow and to watch our lives unfold in small ways. What I have found, over and over, is that our struggles is most often what impacts people most. My blog is now read by more people I don't know than I do. My email box receives letters each week from people who thank me for sharing the hurts and the Hope we have to get through them- telling me that it is an encouragement...which is crazy because that in turn encourages me.
It's about being transparent.
I firmly believe if Cindy had been more transparent with her pain and desperation that somehow, someway, someone would have answered her cries for help. I am sorry to say it almost certainly wouldn't have been me. I wish over and over I had been given a chance to make things different and that Teagan and Peggy wouldn't have had to die and others I love so deeply wouldn't have been hurt physically, emotionally and mentally. Including me. I wish that her desperate cries would have resulted in some other 'big, news story'...rather than ending in the tragedy that it did.
But people finding Hope and having their hearts changed and their lives given new purpose rarely makes the headlines. That's what I wish was different. I wish we could celebrate in a big way all the things that people do in life to overcome obstacles and struggles and pain to become something they never thought they could be. I wish we could see more people being open with the realities of their lives- things like broken marriages, eating disorders and addictions, financial burdens that seem to have no end, past hurts that haunt and affect the way people relate to others, feelings of failure that only breed anger and resentment and bitterness. The "ugly sides- the dark side"- the stuff we try to hide to make ourselves look 'normal' to others we face each day.
I wish people could unload their hurts and burdens and the truth in their lives- not to be shamed and judged, but instead to find a Door that leads to healing and Hope and freedom in life. I don't have anyway of making such a dream happen. I can't go out and hug everyone in the world or ask them if they need Love. But I do know that I can care. I do know that someone else's pain has made me more sensative and has left me with a longing in my heart to tell others the truth- that there is Joy and happiness and Hope and healing available to them- no matter the hurt they carry in their hearts and lives.
Today I just feel the need to be open to listening and to have that longing in my heart filled- even in the tiniest way. I would love for anyone that has sensed that I 'struck a chord' with you or with someone that you know, to leave me a comment (even just your first name or initials) so that I can pray for you. I will. I would love to be available by email as well {nitty.grittyjody@yahoo.com } if you want to share your hurt/pain more specifically with me in order for me to pray in a more concrete way. I know that I can do nothing to change the events of my life from 7 years ago...but as I remember and reflect, I can only see how I wish I had more of that chance. I am grateful that I have been given a second chance in life- to love, to seek, to be changed and to find ways to touch others. I love that as the years have gone by that my pain has softened and that my own heart has been sensatized to the needs and hurts of others. I don't know that that is why our tragedy occured, but I do know that being transparent is the best way to healing. I believe that if I had held onto my own hurt- my anger, my grief, my unforgiveness, that I wouldn't have a story worth sharing with anyone. Instead, laying it all out there and depending on God for healing and strength every moment of everyday, as well as being supported and loved by so many family, friends and strangers, has been the key to the renewal and Hope that Chip and I have found over these sometimes long, tough years.
As I continue to grow and learn and experience life, it just seems to be more and more true. The way to healing comes not in hiding- just as a doctor can't diagnose and treat your symptoms if you don't put them all out on the table- but in being real and in asking for help. I am glad, in a way, that our pain and struggles were so big, so public that we couldn't help hide them. The outpouring of compassion and care from so many has been a reason for us to want to overcome. I don't take credit or want to appear as a superhero- but instead I share our story humbly and truly know that God has made us new. For that I have nothing but praise and thanksgiving. Even as I miss Teagan after 7 long years.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

I will be praying for you today. Having lost a child myself, I know how hard anniversaries can be. Every year we think we are doing pretty good and then that day hits and the next two weeks is very difficult. The pain never goes away. Thank you for sharing your story.
Amy W.

Emily said...

Jody,
Thank you for sharing. I've been reading your blog for sometime now, and it has helped me in many ways. I, too, used to be guilty of turning my head when others have needs, and at times, I still am. After the death of my aunt, I became strongly aware that I wasn't the only one hurting. I began to notice the feelings of others around me.
I will be praying for you, your family, and others that were touched by the loss of your sweet Teagan. She sounds like an amazing little girl, and to this day, she still is, because while she's with her Father, she's helping Him out, by still touching the lives of others.
Emily

Stephanie said...

I have been reading your blog for several months, but this is my first time to leave a comment. I do pray for you and am thankful for the encouragement you have been to me. Several years ago I lost my sister in a car accident, and she left behind four small children and a husband as well. A truck driver crossed the median and struck her minivan head on. Thankfully (and very rarely), none of her children were in the car with her. I loved the Lord before this happened and still do today, but it has been a rough road, as I know you well understand. Most importantly, I can say that I know more fully now than I did then just how much the Lord loves me, cares for our family, and does not abandon us in our grief and anger. You have encouraged me to pray for the man whose wrecklessness and carelessness cost my sister her life and her children their mother-to pray healing for him and that he might know the peace of the God that my sister loved. Thank you, and may the Lord continue to bless your precious family.

Jessica said...

I am keeping you and your family in my prayers today. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It has truly touched me and taught me to hold my son closer each day & that there is no quarantee that we will see tomorrow on this earth.

kate stanton said...

When I see someone hurting, out of place, alone I don't wonder what they did or how they got there - I pray for them. Working in higher education, students come to us with their backpacks full of history. Each one needs love, compassion, and understanding. My dad died 14 years ago, and he would smile at anyone, anywhere, at anytime. "Might be the only smile they get, kate" he would say...I do the same thing. Your blog has meant so much to me - I saw you on Oprah and sat amazed - never knowing what happened to you until I found your blog early this summer. I'm silenced by your strength to simply pray for all who love - for it is our ability to love another which makes us hurt so. Much love to you my blog friend - kate

Anonymous said...

Every time I read your blog, I am blown away by your grace, compassion and love.(especially for the woman responsible for Teegan's death). 17 years ago, when I was pregnant(13 weeks), my 1st husband was killed by a drunk driver. I was 20 years old and we were married just over a year. I discovered the accident by driving by it. Total disbelief and sadness, I prayed all the way to the hospital that my husband, Mike would not die. He had massive head injuries and died in the 'flight for life' on the way to the hospital. I was blessed that same year with the birth of my 1st son, Michael Anthony. Thank you for your honesty and all you share. You have touched my life! Much love, Jen from Cali

Anonymous said...

As always- I am sitting here with chills because of your real-ness and your unique approach. You are SO right about people's need to look "normal" and the sadness underneath. I commend you for your honesty and your willingness to share your story and help us all to be more compassionate and faithful people. You are blessed. Thank You,
Laura Solomon

Hopesrising said...

Praying for you today.
I hope you know your writing is a blessing for so many.
Kerry

kerry lynn said...

all my love & support jods.
always.
xo

Anonymous said...

Mommy,
I can't believe it has been seven years since I woke up and gave you, Daddy, Brock and Wyndham a great big hug. I still look back and realize I had the best time with my family on earth. Do you remember when Daddy stopped by the river on the way home from Minnesota and we had a great time swinging? Do you remember going to the Nina's and then ice cream at the beach at our house in Florida? Does Brockie remember our Mattress slide in the basement? I remember all those things and more and they made my life on earth wonderful. I look forward to being with you again in Heaven, but wait a few years so all my brothers and sisters can have their kids have wonderful grandparents. By the way, God has great plans for Wyndham on earth, you won't believe your eyes. Remember me today, but be happy for tommorrow is the anniversary of the first day I hugged Jesus. Thank you for teaching me how much he loved me.
I love you Mommy,
Teagan

lori said...

Wow Jody!!! What an amazing post..
We all need the freedom to be real with one another, and you being real here I know is right where God needs you right now, someone or somemany lives are going to change

Anonymous said...

dear Jody,
today you have brought me to tears. thank you so much for your blog. you have helped me in my walk with God, and your words have eased my heartache many times. the power of prayer is something i have seen and believe in so much. please add me and my children to your list, as ii will continue to pray for you and your family. you make a difference.

Kristi said...

As always you are willing to add to your load by offering to pray for others. You amaze me. You make me feel that is OK to let myself become a better person after my Mom's sudden death. My girls and I have prayed for you, Teagan, and your family for a long time, and we will continue to do so. You just rub your belly, and take some care of yourself this week.
Kristi

Becca said...

I think this post is so insightful and reflects your graciousness. While I have never had a loss as great, I have been going through hard times - moving to a new city with a toddler and newborn while husband is already in new city. I've often wanted to be more transparent on my blog, but something has held me back.

Thank you for your transparency, you've taught me a lot about grace and forgiveness.

surfmomma4 said...

Hi Jody, thank you for being the person you are today. You turned your tradegy into a healing of sorts, not sure how to say it, but thank you,. It is true about how we hide our hurt. I heard a statement that rings so true to me.."God cannot heal what you won't release to him" May God continue to bless you and your family..I;m so happy about the baby, isn;t He an awesome God!!!

mmullenix said...

Thank you for keeping it real. What an awesome testimony for you and your family that you can praise God even in the rough times. I am blessed everytime I read your blog. I really hope that I can become more sensitive to those hurting around me.

I pray that God will richly bless you and your family during this time of remembrance.

Anonymous said...

Jody,

You are amazing! I just wanted to share two poems with you that a family member wrote when they lost their little boy who accidently strangled himself with the blind cord. These poems may bring you some solace.

"Quiet creaking in the dim light
All asleep this late at night
My arms are aching for you to hold
A refined gift, a sweetness untold

Alone I sit in our rocking chair
Contemplating events and how life's unfair
My dreams are tortuous what if's and whys
so here I stay to pass the time

A broken heart and troubled soul
The refiner's fire licks the coals
Wrenched too soon from sweetness and peace
Pain and quilt unwilling to retreat

An image, a dream envelops my mind
Of a ship tossed about by an angry wind
Sailors plead for help from on high
afraid of the unknown, afraid to die

Tempestuous waves own the night
Crashing against them with unyielding might
Scourging the sail of this small ship
Wind slashing their backs with his hated whip

All move below, but one stays behind
Pleading for solace and peace of mind
Unwilling to leave the ship's torn deck
A symbol of her broken world, life's wreck

From distant wind, a voice begins
"Be still my child, the storm will end"
A peace descends upon my mind
Comfort and warmth, the spirit's sign"


"A broken heart; a healing soul
The refiner's fire licks the coals
Yet the soothing voice echoes within
"Be still my child, the storm will end"

Broken hearts, a pattern of blame
What more could be done to erase the stain?
A few moments sooner, an anticipated change
The what if’s unending, all choices arranged
Heavy hearts hold guilt as fuel for tears
Clutching tightly to hope, masking our fear
The hours are endless, the seconds filled with pain
The grief, the hope, the blessings feel the same

Watch over them, Father, help them to grow
In the love and wisdom as they struggle to know
All the blessings behind the trials they’re given
A greater mansion, love, and a family in heaven
I can’t understand the nature of this day
As I find myself beside my bed to pray
So many moments and memories engrained in my mind
Answers we seek, unyielding love we find"

kim said...

JODY, I TRIED TO EMAIL YOU AT YOUR YAHOO ADDRESS BUT IT CAME BACK TO ME SO I JUST POSTED IT...

Jody,

I don't know you but I love you. You are an inspiration whether you see/feel it or not. God is using you and doing such a work. Thank you for your transparency!

All I need is prayer to grow closer....I've lost that. I used to be "on fire" when I was a teenager but I've lost the desire...I know what I need to do but I just can't seem to get back there. The prodical daughter I guess you'd say. A valley perhaps but I've been here too long for it to be a season....

My husband is in China right now so prayers for him as well. He's on a missions trip and God is doing a WORK in him...that's FOR SURE! Check out his blog and see for yourself.

www.hannahsdaddy-petey.blogspot.com

Thanks again for your "realness" (I know that's not a word)

Love your sister in Christ,
Kim P.
www.journeytohannah.com

Dawn B said...

I emailed you a while ago because you really touched me. I hope you received it.

Thank you for keeping your blog. I read it daily...you help me get through my hurts.

Anonymous said...

I love you too, Jody. I have never met you and probably never will, and yet I do. Funny that. You provide a wonderful example to all of us. Your words make me think and love just a little bit differently.

Love,

Jane

All moments remembered said...

Jody once again thank you for the deep thoughts. I have had a lot going on in my life for the past two weeks but reading your blog makes me remember that I have tons of support and love. I try to be there for as many as I can but you are right sometimes we need to reach out further. Thanks for the reminder! Hugs to you sweetie and so much love and prayers for your whole family!!!
Stacey

Anonymous said...

As I pray for you, I do ask that you could pray for me. I have not lost a child - yet, but I see my daughter distroying her body with a eating disorder. It breaks my heart to see what extremes she goes through to be thin - and like many with this disorder - she was never fat. She's beautiful, talented, smart, funny, has a loving family, and everything many girls wish they could be. Thankfully she has begun getting help, but I pray it's not too late, and she can fight this. I do find sharing my rollercoaster of emotions with my good friends does help, but I know I couldn't get through any of this without the prayers that people are praying for myself, my daughter, and my family.
God Bless You!

Anne said...

You have hit on a very important point. It is easy to stay in our cocoons, caring for our own needs, not looking beyond. Sometimes in my cocoon I wonder, doesn't anyone notice? Notice that my son is lonely, that my husband and I might be too at times? At the same time I am so aware of the many blessings God has provided. Remembering Rick Warren's line,"It is not about me!" I also ask,
"How to be more aware of other's needs? "
You are correct. Being open . Being real. Talking about the pain yet recognizing the grace God provides.
Staying alert. Being connected.
And always being aware that this is just a journey.....(we are strangers and aliens here) and that more than meets the eye awaits those who
are believers. Keep writing! In Christ's name, Anne
onegirlfriday.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

What a blessing to see how God continues to use you, Jody, to touch others. I will pray for continued strength for you and your entire family as you serve God for the time you have here before you are one day reunited with Teagan. May you be blessed with all the prayers offered on your behalf today, and in the days and weeks to come.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog for a while now and each time I do I get this wonderful feeling of peace. Your style of writing is truly amazing. Your children are beautiful and wish you nothing but the best in your last couple of weeks of pregancy. I would say that I am not a religious person but reading your blog makes me want to find the Lord.
Thank you! kendra9288@yahoo.com

Sonja said...

Jody,

I have been putting off reading this post, selfishly because I am so emotional right now. I'm sorry I did that. You are in my prayers...love to you, Sonja

Anonymous said...

I too have been reading your blog for a couple of months and visit every day. You inspire me to be a better person, a better mother, a better wife, and a better Christian. Thank you for being so transparent. I agree wholeheartedly!

Vanessa and John said...

HI Jody, I know you constantly say you are amazed at all the people that check on your blog and i have a few things to say about that. You ARE a huge inspiration to me and the other people who have experienced true sufferring. When I want to cry, hate God, give up, let my sadness consume me, you remind me and the world, that you can survie and be happy again. I too thought after my daughter's birth that I would never be happy--I was sure of it adn honestly I didn't wan to be happy, but reading your blog and a few others has helped me realize I can be happy and normal again.
I understand your opinon with people opening up, the sad thing is, some people get so consumed by their issues, whether they let it out or not, they continue on that malignant pathway the rest of their lives. I'm a family practice doc and see it daily. It's quite sad; they don't want to be better...I can tell you seem to have forgiven that lady...but I don't like her, I won't use the tasteless words i want to say... Good luck on your pregnancy and also, can i add your link on my blog? ilovegiuliana.blogspot.com

Greta Blegvad - Newark, OH said...

Standing in the cemetery on Tuesday (I am a funeral director), I saw this on a headstone and it spoke to me on so many levels. I wanted to share it with you...

How shall we sing our love's song now
In this strange land where all are born to die?
Each tree and leaf and star show how
The universe is part of this one cry,
That every life is noted and is cherished,
And nothing loved is ever lost or perished.

by Madeleine L’Engle from A Ring of Endless Light

Thinking of you, Jody. Thanks for sharing your life with us. You are such an inspiration!

Greta Blegvad
Newark, OH

Sam, Erin and Ava Oginsky said...

Thank you for letting the grace of God work through you. Thank you for giving us a glimpse of what forgiveness is all about. I just found your blog today and I read a good chunk of it. You & your family & your story is an inspiration. Thank you for sharing it.
In christ,
Erin O

Debbie F. said...

oh, Jody! This post is incredible. I realize mostly I would probably not be the one to reach out if someone made their pain transparent. But, I am trying to change that about me. And I think I'm doing a decent job of it. This is an excellent reminder. I'm not going to change the world, but it would be wonderful if, at the very least, I add a smile to someone's rotten day.

Thank you for putting it out there - being transparent. It's touching inspiration for all of us.