Love connects – and this year of connecting is breaking my heart

by Craig on January 19, 2011

I’ll continue the Jeanne of Arc letter tomorrow.

But I have a previous commitment with Ann Voskamp and others for …

Ann asked, “What are your new habits for 2011 and how are you making them happen?”

It’s really just one new habit – one new thing – and it happens just by doing it – everyday.

Because of Ann I named this year “connection”.

So every day I practice.

It sounds simple,

but it’s killing pieces of me

and it hurts.

It is blistering hot and icicle cold,

and too much to handle,

and yet still not enough,

It’s breaking my heart.

Because love is connecting, and I didn’t know that true connecting in love means…

…to feel the heart of another.

So people have prayed for my year of connection – and thank you.

But I’m receiving something different from what I ordered.

What I’ve gotten is this heart I can’t turn off.

There are no knobs, or switches, and I can’t make it stop.

It’s breaks every day – and I can’t make it stop.

People are despairing – and I feel it!

And I can’t make it stop.

My eyes are open and there just seems so much more struggle than joy.

I get buried in the pain, it hurts, it pierces.

I climb down into the dark holes to be with people.

And I despise the darkness.

But this way they aren’t alone there. And because they hurt I hurt, and I can’t make it stop!

It’s been going on for weeks. I should be grateful – and I am. I shouldn’t complain, but I am.

There’s just so much sorrow,

and it’s not mine to begin with,

but I’m filling up with it

and it’s becoming mine in the end.

I’m bursting at the seams because there’s just no room for it all.

The friend who is slaving away and staying true in a marriage when he is getting nothing in return but misery  – and he’s keeping it together for his kids.

The man who is now, in his forties, and friends of his have died, and he’s questioning everything, his life, his worth, and he’s drowning in the silence of the non-answers. But he’s not telling anyone.

These things, they are killing parts of me. It’s because of a life lived with blinders on. I would come along side someone hurting, but never really enter in. I feigned caring because I was Christian and I didn’t want to be seen as heartless.

But I was.

I was heartless.

How does God love someone who is heartless?


How good is God? How patient to wait all this time…

and so I start a blog…

and then Ann Voskamp says “name the year” – and so I do…

and everything turns over on itself…

and is that God whispering. “Good, I’ve been waiting a lifetime for this’.?

So Ann, how am I making this new habit happen?

I just keep plunging in every single day, and I hate it, and I love it.

The one battling depression that threatens to suck me in too. I can’t sit and hear without dying a little. But I listen – and she cries – and I cry – and sometimes just stay silent, when she’s silent. And we don’t talk – but it hurts just the same.

This hurts – everybody. It’s new and it hurts. And I don’t want to do it anymore. It’s easier to not feel this. There is bliss in ignorance. I don’t have that anymore.

I don’t even feel my pain so much. There’s no room for wallowing in puddles of me.

I guess that’s good.

And there is the hearing of a man whose wife had a stroke and lies without waking. And it slays me. The husband – the anguish – and the kids – and I cry. I can’t help. I can’t fix. I can only feel – and pray. I could do that. So I did that. But it hurts.

And it’s all too much…

And I don’t want to do it anymore…

but I hunger for more of it…

Does that make sense?

I know the answer to this already. But I still want this question answered again.

Why so much pain and struggle?

Not me, I’m just one, I mean everybody.

Why all of it hidden behind masks?

If everybody is hurting like this why is everybody “fine” when you ask?

Why aren’t we grabbing each other down to the gorund

and sharing all of this

and praying about it like we care

and listening

and helping each other.


Why aren’t we connecting?


And since this is a kind of

pour your heart out post

I’m also linking to one of my

very favorite bloggers…

Shell@Things I Can’t Say


In God’s Love.

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie January 19, 2011 at 1:37 am

I wish someone smarter than I had commented before me. Because I’m just reading this and crying and crying. I have no answers, just tears. Big help, huh? Thank you for connecting . . .for showing us the depth of that. Craig, I think God is doing something special in it with you, something beyond what maybe most of us experience. Praying for you and those you connect to, for Him to work in it all.


Craig January 19, 2011 at 9:03 am

Thank you Deb – it is – it really is breaking my heart. Not all the time – but every single time there’s a chance to enter in with someone – and I’m doing it on purpose now – looking for chances. I don’t know what God’s doing – but it is a New year.


Anonymuss January 19, 2011 at 2:02 am

Craig, this is so powerful! Real connecting is where real living begins and remains. You are doing it! It is painful and messy and joyful. All those things and more. Who can answer the last question? Is it our culture? Our church culture? Our pride? Our sense that often people who ask how we are really aren’t prepared for a true answer? Or don’t have/make the time? Or they don’t know how to respond? Real connection requires genuine interest in others, compassion, empathy, understanding, love, selflessness in that moment…at a minimum?

Oh, Debbie! You were the perfect one to respond first! I love what you said, too!


Craig January 19, 2011 at 9:08 am

A. thank you. That last question. I just had a vision of people in pairs or small circles on the ground – heads close and being with each other in all the challenges. Nobody’s challenged in church, nobody has any hurts or problems.- not. Every single on of them does – and I do – and you do – and before the music, and the one person preaching – don’t we need to be entering into each other’s hearts? Isn’t that worship? Or maybe I’m just being a little crazy with this – but I think I’m not.


Anonymuss January 19, 2011 at 11:19 am

Craig, no, you’re not crazy with this. I love what you describe in your vision of people in pairs…and I long for that, too. That is not only worship; that is church at its best. Because I am in the process of searching for a ‘church’, and because I have had a bad church experience (so I am very cautious); I have visited many. My current definition of church is the place you go to be alone together (I know there are likely exceptions but for me…), and I am not shy of meeting people. There are so many walls and facades out there. I understand it can be less this way in less ‘sophisticated’ cultures. Lately I have longed to live in a simple little village where the life happens more healthfully in all respects. But, I don’t. So how can I make that happen where I am, or find where it is happening, or patch together something that kinda works even though it has really broken parts? It is ironic for me that my best friendships right now-with two exceptions-are ones that began online. Is internet the new ‘village’? But one can really miss the non-virtual contact. We need that, too. I should say-I need that, too. I so desire the kind of honest, caring, loving ‘brotherhood’ you describe in your vision. I will close, but this touches a place in me. I am so grateful that God is blessing you and using you to sound a call and to spread His heart…to be His heart in the places you touch.


Alida January 19, 2011 at 10:57 am

Every time I read one of your posts I am touched. I truly value your honesty and vulnerability and your talent for expressing yourself in ways I just cannot.

Thank you, once again, for being you.

joy & blessings,


Craig January 19, 2011 at 11:01 am

Thank you Alida – that means the world to me. But these are just words – look at you – actually doing – reaching out – connecting everyday in Belize – that is talent. God smiles at that.


Shell January 19, 2011 at 11:28 am

Such a powerful post. When we connect, it’s true- it’s not just all the warm and fuzzy, but we get to see and feel the pain, too.


Rae January 19, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Life hurts, so living well must really, really hurt. I have no encouraging words to say, and I am not wise enough to even live well myself. But I do know that life is good and this is good. So I guess that means good for you in the deepest sense possible.


Craig January 19, 2011 at 3:11 pm

That may just have been the most confusing thing I’ve ever read – that you have written. Hold on, I’ll read it again …

Ok – I think I get it :)

And thank you – this is good – this feeling is good – and I hate it – and it’s good and I don’t want it anymore – but I want more of it –

oh – I guess I started the confusing writing didn’t I?



Megan (Best of Fates) January 19, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Being open – loving – does hurt. But without that, what’s the point to life?


Craig January 19, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Thank you Megan. I had life wrong for so long. It was me me me and also me. I pretended to listen, pretended to understand. But now I’ve asked for this year of connection and God is connecting me not with people – but with hearts. But you are so so right – without being open, without loving out loud, what is the point to life. Thank you for reading Megan. God Bless.


Emilie January 19, 2011 at 6:19 pm

I understand what you mean here, Craig… returning from distance to connection is incredibly hard. Rewarding and good in the sense that you *feel* things again, but still so hard. Praying for your year of connection, especially through its raw and painful times.


Craig January 19, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Thank you Emilie. I thought connecting was all different from what it’s turning out to be.

The God of surprises.

I do have faith that it is what it is best for me though. Thank you for praying and sharing – oh and thank you for reading too :)

God bless


Debra January 19, 2011 at 6:27 pm

Craig, what an honor to have truly entered the fellowship of His suffering. My gut feeling is that you’ve been called to this all along, and have just now begun to experience more deeply, and in a more genuine way, the pathos of others. You not only have the mind, but the heart of Christ. You are a beautiful vessel of honor and a true disciple.


Craig January 19, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Debra – I do at times think as I’m feeling what others are feeling that it’s something that Our Lord did. How sensitive he must have been – he must have felt it all.

and pathos – that’s a word that’s been popping up in my mind

And I am far from a beautiful vessel – just a bunch of cracked clay, and I try to be a true disciple – I love Our Lord more than I can say.

Thank you for reading Debra. God Bless.


Erin January 19, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Craig, I truly believe that sometimes we feel this pain and heartbreak so that we have to fully lean on God and depend full-force on that relationship. He’s an “all-in” kind of God, you know? And all-in is painful just as much as it is joyous.

And as to your last question- why don’t we connect? Well, you answered it- so many of us want the good and the joyful part of relationships without the pain and stress of the difficult times. But it is working through those dark days that make the good days so very joyful.

My prayers are with you as you continue to sort through all this.


Craig January 20, 2011 at 3:33 pm

You are right. Our Lord is an “all in” kind of God. We always want just the good pieces – the bluebird pieces – Our Lord felt the pain of others – it’s about time I did. I should have had this sorted out long ago.


JennaFarelyn January 19, 2011 at 11:57 pm

I responded to your post with a post of my own. I had a lot more to say than I thought.


Craig January 20, 2011 at 3:34 pm

And it was a perfect post Jen.


Trish January 20, 2011 at 1:16 am

He offers a share in His pain to His closest friends.
Vicarious suffering.
He wants you to keep Him company..on the cross.
You speak to my heart with these words today, Craig.
Thank you.
Peace and blessing..Trish


Craig January 20, 2011 at 3:35 pm

I have had flashes of thinking like this Trish. It helps to hear it from someone else. Thank you. It is helping me to be more like him.

God Bless


Lisa notes... January 20, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Following your “habit” is one of the most interesting journeys this year. “How does God love someone who is heartless?” I suppose he gives him a heart…a full one…and that’s what you have, brother. Praying for you to not be burdened under the weight of connections and for God to give you the joy of connecting to bolster you every time you need it, need Him. This is quite a ministry.

I’m glad you’re memorizing Philippians, too. Yes, it is interesting how it starts sounding more and more like a “real” letter the more we repeat it.

Blessings to you!


Craig January 20, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Can I give it back???!!!!!!

Just kidding – and all the help from those who know this thing I should already know is terrific. Thank you Lisa. And thank you for the prayers. Until I learn how to handle this and balance it sometimes it does threaten to bury me.

And amen about Philippians. Over on Deep into Scripture I’m thinking of inserting some Philippians – maybe a walk through the town – I know the little hilltop town of Philippi pretty well.


Kim January 20, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Craig, it’s probably just me but about every other time I click on your site I either can’t find it or there is no link to comment. So I apologize for my seeming absence but it’s been technical. I read this post and it really touched me. There is nothing more important than reading someone’s authentic thoughts. Whenever I meet someone who really is living an examined life, it gives me hope.


Craig January 20, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Thanks Kim. Although it seems through this that life is examining me – and not vice versa. Here’s hoping I pass the exam.

And if anyone is having a problem on my blogs – either one – please let me know.

Thank you for reading Kim – and not running away as all this stuff spilled out of my heart and onto the screen.


Dawn January 20, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Well, Craig, I was still running the idea of being chaste WITHIN marriage when I was grabbed by Jeanne d’Arc having a red dress that meant a lot to her and then today…

Your experience with connecting and where it is taking you leaves me with no voice. I have nothing to say to you that is helpful, nothing that I think is inspired of God. I only believe that we live in a world of victims. Everyone has a story and some will never get beyond that story or where it left them. They just want to tell it over and over and never come to terms with it (and sap your energy in the process). I think if many will let it, Ann’s book will change their lives. She writes about how one can turn adversities around and continue on in victory. I pray strugglers will see value in reframing their story, living in the strength that survival affords and begin to see the power in being thankful for every moment.

Living in the Year of Now, I have been interrupted three times trying to compose and send this post. Once again I must run to take care of something that is happening here right now. I will close hoping I have expressed what I wanted (and not too harshly).



Craig January 20, 2011 at 7:31 pm

That’s ok Dawn, everyone, it’s not really as dark as it sounds. I am grateful for this new “empathy” God has given me. And I am intentionally pushing the bounds of it – to connect – to grow – to feel – because if not now, when? I had to interrupt the Jeanne story because Ann asked how the practice of the new habit was going. I’m kind of a free flowing heart right now -and you all got splashed by it.

I gripe about it – but I love this new heart – I love FEELING DEEPLY and entering into other people’s emotions with them. I’ll learn how moderate things soon I’m sure. It’s a journey, a surprise journey, but one I’m amazingly glad that I’m on.

Thank you Dawn your words are strong, and considerate, and a little “harshe” now and again? That’s a good thing :)


HopefulLeigh January 20, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Oh, I love this Craig! This is such wonderful exploration. You are right where God wants you to be, you are His hands and feet to these people.


Craig January 20, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Thank you Leigh. I think eventually I’ll have to find a balance. But it’s a learning thing. I named the year connection – so I’m thnkin’ that God will “bless” me with this “gift” for no more than a year :)

God bless you Leigh

and thank you for reading.


susan January 22, 2011 at 1:42 am

You said it best to Leigh-“finding balance”. But sorry, dear one, once you have opened your heart to *connecting* you can’t turn it off. It’s not like a faucet. I can try sooo hard to not be so involved, to not give my last handful of change to someone without bus fare home, to hand my phone to a perfect stranger to call family, to remember to take care of me so I can take care of the two most important in my world…and I can’t do it. All I can do is withdraw completely to make that happen. And that feels wrong to my heart&soul. I cannot un-connect. (i know it should be “disconnect” but it’s not the same) I cannot un-ring the bell of an open mind heart soul that was given to me to live out, no matter what. The masks? Self-protection. Like an N95(medical mask) during flu season. It’s how people achieve self-imposed “balance”,to limit what they feel, like saying “how are you?” and you saying “fine”. We’ve had *that* discussion. And when the reality of the world’s misery breaks my heart,i try to fix what I can-heatpacks in the feral kittyhouse,neosporin on the dogs’pads, a load of clothes to the CityMission–it helps. A little. But i’m afraid this “gift” isn’t just for the calendar yr. -s-


Craig January 22, 2011 at 9:37 am

Thank ou Susan – “self imposed balance” good point! And so maybe the thing to be glad he’s given me this gift – and now just learn to use it – like getting a bike – bumps and bruises until you learn to balance – hmmmmm – future blog post? :) God Bless


susan January 22, 2011 at 11:03 pm

There ya go–maybe call it “Wear a Helmet & Tuck in Your Pantlegs”. :D. My “job” every year (for at least 17 now) is *balance*, not “run-n-gun-till-u-drop-face-first”, aka “you -can’t-save-the-world-only-your-little-corner”. Which is usually what happens anyway…Uh-oh….Splat! 😉


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