Becoming Visible

By on March 1, 2012

By Heidi McLaughlin –

I could hardly breathe. The memories in the house were chocking me. I had to get out. Only twenty-four short days ago my husband had walked out of the house and said “Honey, I’ll see you after the game.” He was off to play another game of basketball, the sport he had been passionate about his entire life. That night, two weeks before Christmas 1994, he died on the basketball court from a heart failure.

After a painful two weeks and hundreds of people passing through our house, my daughter Michelle and I were now wretchedly and glaringly alone. We wrapped ourselves in coats, scarves, mittens and toques and ventured into the cold, uninviting night, bracing ourselves against the biting wind. We had nothing to say: too many tears had already been shed and we were both preoccupied with our intimate thoughts and painful memories.

As we walked, I was captivated by the lights in our neighbors’ homes. Those revealing lights were like an audio visual display of families gathering around dining room tables, children laughing, husbands and wives passing food, and friends mingling and laughing. “That’s what my family should be doing right now.” I thought.

I stopped dead in my tracks as I felt the empty longing and loneliness clutch my mind.  All of a sudden it felt as if time stopped. Street noise was suspended in the air. Dogs barked. Cars honked. Sirens wailed. I knew I was still alive because I could hear my breathing. It felt as if someone had taken a big eraser and wiped away my future with all its hopes, dreams and longings. Grief made my past a fog and my future undecipherable. In the present I felt nothingness. Faceless. Nameless. Invisible.

I had never experienced such crushing emptiness. I thought, “God, You’re going to have to help me here. I’ve never felt this way before. You told me you would never leave me or forsake me, and I need You right now.” Achingly and slowly I kept placing one numb foot in front of the other. I looked up at the coal black sky and silently pleaded with God. “God I know your word tells me that “your eyes are on the righteous and your ears are attentive to their cries (Psalm 34:15 NIV). So do you see what I am going through? You are El-Roi, the ‘strong One who sees’, and I need to know you see me. I need to know I am not invisible. Help me.”

My souI was sharply awakened. It was as though God was audibly speaking to me and reminding me of His words in Isaiah 40:26. “Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by their name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” God was telling me that, not only did He see my pain, emptiness, and naked vulnerability, He knew my name. If God calls each of the millions of stars by name and sees that none of them are missing, then I knew that my God, El-Roi could see my pain. He knew I was Heidi. I was not invisible.

Never before had I been in such a vulnerable state. I had to know that someone knew I existed. The simple fact that God saw me in my black void and reminded me that His eyes were on me, and I was not missing; unleashed enough hope in me to tenderly embrace the unknown days ahead.

Many years have passed since that gut wrenching night, but I have never forgotten that my God is El-Roi; and He is the “strong One who sees” every intimate detail of my life. I am never invisible. I am Heidi. God is not finished with me yet.

 

Heidi McLaughlin lives in the beautiful vineyards of the Okanagan Valley in Kelowna, British Columbia. She is married to Pastor Jack and they have a wonderful, eclectic blended family of 5 children and 9 grandchildren. When she is not working, she loves to curl up with a great book; or golf and laugh with her husband, family and special friends. Her website: www.heartconnection.ca

About Heidi McLaughlin

Heidi McLaughlin lives in the beautiful vineyards of the Okanagan Valley in Kelowna, British Columbia. She is married to Pastor Jack and they have a wonderful, eclectic blended family of 5 children and 9 grandchildren. When she is not working, she loves to curl up with a great book; or golf and laugh with her husband, family and special friends. You can reach her at: www.heartconnection.ca

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Becoming Visible