I didn’t know it would happen like this…
I’ve been so excited about sharing creative caring ideas with you, even to the point of having to whittle down my list to keep it at 31 days … but today I’ve got nothing. I’ll share the list starting tomorrow, but today I guess you get to see another side of creative caring. I’d rather not show you this side, because I’d rather not be experiencing it.
You see, yesterday someone I know heard the words
“Stage 4. Inoperable. Months.”
She’s a friend. Not a We’ve been best friends forever kind of friend, but definitely someone to whom I want to reach out. She lives about as far across the U.S. from me as possible, and that makes “doing” caring a bit complicated. I’m numb from the news … and not thinking very creatively.
Just how am I going to show her I care?…
Well, isn’t God gracious? As I’ve been writing this post — all the while praying for wisdom and creativity — the answer came. Here it is…
God reminded me that my friend has a collection of heart-shaped rocks and a wonderful story to go along with it. In her own words, here’s her story…
I love the way God uses simple things in life to touch our hearts—to speak a message specific to the need of an individual heart! He does this so well because He knows us so intimately–our individual pains & sorrows, our joys & delights; what makes our hearts come alive; what makes them sing. He understands how to tell us something only our heart can understand. He shows us He loves us by using objects or experiences in our lives in ways which could only come from Him. What it requires from us is a heart of receptivity—opening our eyes to see, our ears to hear, and our hearts to understand. This was the beginning of my heart rock story.
Several years ago, during a devastatingly difficult period in my life, I was feeling very alone and overwhelmed with pain, sorrow, and darkness. I desperately needed God’s presence, so I took a few days away and drove up the California central coast to a little town on the beach. When I got there, I prayed that God would speak to my aching heart and remind me of His love for me.
In boldness, or perhaps just desperation, I asked Him to give me something tangible to serve as a token I could hold onto to remember this time away with Him. I realize it may seem rather greedy for me to ask for a ‘specific gift,’ but thankfully, He understands the very depths of our spirits. He knows how far-reaching are the needs of our hearts, and at those times when we’re most desperately in need of Him, He is there to show us, sometimes quite creatively, that He understands and cares. Gratefully, He doesn’t condemn us for our impoverished hearts but reaches out with compassion and asks what it is that we are seeking.
Being a person who loves to collect rocks and other beach treasures, I told Him I wanted a rock–a rock in the shape of a heart. Now, to be honest, I don’t know that I really believed He would give me one, (oh me of little faith!) but I thought I’d at least give Him a chance. So, that first night, bundled up against the cold February ocean breeze, I went out for a walk on the beach to receive my gift.
I had only walked a few yards when I looked down, and right next to my feet was a small rock that seemed to be in the shape of a heart! I picked it up and thought to myself, “well, maybe it’s not really a heart; maybe I’m stretching it because I want it to be one.” Still, I put the rock in my pocket and carried it with me as I walked on. Not too long after, I saw something out of the corner of my eye, looked down and just had to laugh out loud! It was as if God were saying to me, “Alright, is this one obvious enough for you?!” There at my feet was another rock that was definitely, without question, a heart-shaped rock, and this one was about three or four inches wide. He had to be sure I didn’t question it this time, so He made it a really BIG one! (I must admit I greatly appreciate our Father’s delightful sense of humor!)
The next morning when I arose to face the day, I made yet another request of the Lord. I told Him I really wanted to find a heart rock each day I was there with Him. After all, He is God, and it’s only three days, so I guess it really wasn’t asking too much, was it?
Over the weekend, God was most gracious to me in so many ways. I spent hours sitting on the beach, watching the waves, looking at the rocks, letting him soothe my aching heart with the beautiful sights and sounds of His creation. And, even more, I was deeply moved by how God granted the request of an aching heart. Not only did I find one heart rock each day I was there but a total of TWENTY heart-shaped rocks over the weekend! And the truly amazing thing about finding those rocks is that I never did search for any of them; they were always “just there” where and when I would see them. It was such a demonstration of the depth of love the Father has for each one of us, the willingness for the Lover of our souls to speak in such a way as to reach to the very depths of our hearts. He heard the cry of my heart and knew how to not only answer the cry but to answer it with the abundance which speaks of the great intensity and fullness of His love.
I am so thankful for that weekend, for the love the Lord showed to me by answering the cry of my heart. He reminded me of how much He loves me and how intimately He is involved in the very smallest details of our lives. He knew that the many long months to come were going to prove to be even more difficult for me and that they were going to be far more painful than anything I had yet experienced in my life. He was preparing my heart not only by assuring me He knew what I was going through but also by giving me a reminder that He would be with me on every step of the hard road ahead. And by the gift of the heart rocks, He was giving me a tangible reminder of His presence and His love.
Sadly, I admit there were many times over the ensuing months and years where the circumstances of my life were such a mess and my heart ached so badly that I questioned the Father’s love for me, where I questioned His involvement in my life. Yet, deep down inside there was always the reminder that He knows our hearts…He knows MY heart. I had heart rocks to look at and to hold in my hand as a tangible reminder that He knows and He truly cares!
One of the most wonderful things about the heart rocks is that they did not stop coming after the weekend was over. Throughout the following months and years, God has continued to give me heart rocks of all shapes and sizes. And it isn’t just rocks anymore… it’s sea glass, and fruit, and flowers, and leaves, and shadows on the ground. Once while on a walk, I even found a heart-shaped rubber band in the dirt on the side of the road! He continually reminds me how much He loves me… He tells me in His Word but also by the things He has created and opened my eyes to see!
I know not everyone would be so thrilled by the gift of a heart-shaped rock, and probably very few by a rubberband in the dirt!, but God knows each one of our hearts completely. He knows what rocks your heart! He knows its language, and He delights in creatively telling each of us how much He loves us. He asks only that we would open our eyes to see, our ears to hear, and our hearts to understand. We will hear Him speak to us when we listen and believe that He knows the language of our hearts.
So what creative caring idea did God give me? Let me tell you…
I wondered just the other day, during my de-cluttering, why I was still hanging on to that heart-shaped rock I stashed (years ago) with the Valentine decor. Now I know. Now it’s time to pass it on … with a card and a brief reminder that Renaissance Man and I are holding her close in prayer.
I’m going to be watching for more hearts to send her. If you see any, I hope you’ll think of her … and pray for her … and perhaps take a picture and email it to me so I can pass it along. In fact, if you already have pictures of hearts you’ve discovered, please send me those! I’m starting to feel a surge of creativity … and perhaps a really amazing project … coming on.
Let’s do some creative caring together, shall we?
This post is part of a 31-day series. To read previous posts, go HERE.