I was 38 years old when I lost a high school friend, Kari, to cancer. We had known the brain tumor was most likely fatal, and we were thankful for about two years after her initial surgery. She had 4 kids and I had 5 when she died, and though our families spent a lot of time together despite living 850 miles apart, we couldn’t create enough memories. We hoarded moments, knowing it would never be enough. After Kari died, Juno changed its service and I lost all the emails I had been archiving, I was hysterical because I wanted to save them to some day show her kids.
It took me so long to feel normal again. I cried every day for months and months. Then I started crying every other day. After 9 months, I realized I had gone a few days in a row without weeping. I didn’t know if I was healing or forgetting. But, in 14 years, I have never stopped crying completely for myself or her children. I’ve tried to use the loss to become a more compassionate person instead a person whose loss has frozen their hardened heart in time.
I instantly climbed into the place of pain Sarah Shelter lived in after losing her teenage friend, Patty, in The Memory Jar by Tricia Goyer. Sarah experienced a lingering grief. “People have learned to live with loss. What’s wrong with me? More tears came and she was tired of them. Tired of crying. Even more tired of holding them in.” (p. 99) Though five years have passed, Sarah is stagnant, focusing on the “if onlys” and unable to seek her life’s true desires, to be married and to open her own bakery. Throughout her life, she has collected special treasures in glass jars to help remember special moments, but these tokens have become reminders of loss instead of reminders of special moments.
Goyer well understands how a heart full of pain keeps others away to keep from experiencing more pain. “For so long, she’d taken her memories of Patty – the memories they’d created together – and held them outside of herself, protecting herself from the pain of carrying them deep within. It was as if she carried all the memories in her jars. But in doing so, it was as if she’d also kept everyone else – those still in her life – at arm’s length too.” (p. 105)
Just when she thinks her heart is ready to go on, she meets Jathan Schrock, who moved to West Kootenai, Montana long enough to become a resident to hunt big game. He also came to experience a reprieve from the life plan determined by his father and the expectation to follow the footsteps of his five perfect older Amish brothers. He agonizes over the fact that if he follows his own dreams, he can’t honor his father. But, he can’t face the life his father has planned for him, or the deep pain he has caused him.
Two young people are drawn toward one another through mutual faith and admiration, but the bondage in their hearts restrains them from total trust and commitment. Sarah recognizes in Jathan the same distance, the guarding of heart territory he’s unwilling to share, even with her. Sarah realizes, “In math, two halves made a whole. but in life – and with relationships – two halves offered up from broken souls seemed a poor way to begin something wonderful.” They experience opposition not only from their unhealed hearts, but from family members.
It’s only when Sarah begins to use the memories as her reason to live, instead of her excuse to only exist, that she opens her heart to the Lord’s leading to fulfill the desires of her heart. It’s only when Jathan admits the pain in his own heart and the desires he has for his own life ambitions, that his heart is healed enough to offer it to someone else.
Only the Lord can join two broken lives together in love and faith for healing and completeness. Follow the lives of Sarah and Jathan as they find the strength to accept their past, present and future, and experience the surprise and sweetness of the Lord’s plans for them. “Desire realized is sweet to the soul.” (Proverbs 13:16)
Follow Tricia on where she has wonderful boards for each of her books and many other topics she’s passionate about. Here’s the link for The Memory Jar board.
Tricia writes for Not Quite Amish Living, a community blog for those who love Amish communities, simple living, vintage style, and have a desire to be in growing relationships with friends, family, and God. Click the link to see a pic of the West Kootenai Kraft and Grocery Store in Montana.
THE MEMORY JAR GIVE AWAY!
There are three ways to enter. You may enter three times if you qualify for each of the three different options. I always include a surprise gift along with the book, so you never know what will show up in your mailbox! Drawing will be held Friday, May 3rd, so there’s plenty of time to spread the news!
1. Leave a comment on this blog about something you do to keep special memories alive in your life.
MANDATORY! Please leave your email address with each entry. I can’t find you without it. I’m sorry, but entries without email addresses will be deleted.
Thank you for visiting my blog, I appreciate all my followers and visitors! May you always find encouragement for the journey when you visit here.