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I was standing over the counter peeling the skins right off those blood red beets when I noticed it.

As soon as those brown skins came off, blood red covers everything, the cutting board, my hands–it’s even splattered across the counter in small red droplets.

It doesn’t matter how neatly I scrape at those beets, the juice gets everywhere, even in the cracks of my skin, dying my palms purple red.

The peeler was a wedding gift and I’ve scraped piles of potatoes and carrots with it, but the beets are the worst.  I stop peeling to look at my palms. I can see the lines on my hands outlined in purplish red, like someone has drawn a marker over them.

It’s what happens when you peel the skin off something—you see what’s really inside. There’s always something more interesting underneath that either draws us in or repulses us.

hope at ChristmasWhen I go to grief group, I see all the brave people with their stone faces, who finally let everything spill open when they don’t have to pretend they’re okay. It’s like peeling the skin off those beets and seeing what’s bleeding underneath.

We’re all a little broken under the surface, bleeding red for someone. It’s tragedy that breaks our hearts, but it’s love that heals us.

When I hear them talk about their loved ones—what they would have liked for Christmas, why they still hang up their stocking, make their favorite food, put up their ornaments—it’s clear why there is no such thing as closure after loss.

Only a person who has experienced this gets it: when their loved one is gone, pieces of that person’s life are left everywhere.

Their clothes in the closet. A shoe on the floor. Their stocking folded up in a Christmas box. A photo left in a drawer. Their handwriting on a note. Fingerprints marking everything we touch.

No matter how hard we try, their soul stains ours with color.

This is what happens when we love: we allow our hearts to break and bleed for someone else and our lives are permanently altered.

As I stare down at my red stained palms, I think of how that beet juice might be brokenness, but it might be something else too:

For the Savior’s hands were nailed right through, bleeding red for me.

And by His wounds, we are healed.

It’s a revelation right in the middle of messy kitchen work: This brokenness isn’t just a sign of hurt, but a sign of love.

We’re stained red by his blood. And this blood was His love poured out.

This is the beauty of suffering: that there is love in pain, redemption in brokenness.

No soul touches us without permanently marking us.

When I see my dirty hands gleaming red in that winter sun, I think of all the beautiful things etched into my life. I think of his love that never lets me go.

In the midst of darkness, hope rises.

Sara

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