The post I almost didn’t write…

*Disclaimer* I realize there are like five people who read this blog (thanks, Mom.)  Some of you may know my struggles and know I have had a history with depression.  Just wanted to reassure you that this post was not written out of that place.  Sorrow is a natural emotion and when dealt with properly, can actually become a tool for growth.  I’d like to think I’m moving toward that. But sometimes people just need to be sad.  And that’s ok — as long as we don’t stay there.  I hesitated to even share this, but I know I am not alone in these thoughts and feelings and pray that my words may help someone else.  I welcome any feedback as well — I think that too often we try to dismiss tough emotions like sorrow to make room for the prettier ones.  So if you’re still willing, read on, my friend….

So the thing about grief….it’s always with you to some degree.  Sometimes it pierces sharp and rubs your heart raw.  Time seems to stand still for you as you lie frozen in sorrow while the rest of the world spins on ahead.  Other times, you might not even realize it’s there. Even after you’ve moved through the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance), you can still find yourself drifting back now and then. On the surface, everything is running smoothly. But there’s an undercurrent that can catch you off guard when you least suspect it.  You’ll be going through your day: taking kids to school, paying bills, going grocery shopping.  Then all of a sudden — smack in the middle of the mundane —  a memory, a song, a smell….something pops into your head and triggers your heart to snap like a rubber band as you’re standing in the checkout line.  That was me recently.

I was standing in line at Kroger, silently cursing myself for choosing the longest lane.  I was trying to guestimate the total damages in my cart when a newborn cry pierced through the din of the store and tore at my heart.  I don’t know what it was about that particular instant, but all at once it was all I could do to not burst into tears as I silently remembered our two babies we never got to hold.  It had been three years already.  Why was this happening now?   The cashier deftly swiped each item, unaware of the turmoil that had now entered my soul.  The bagger asked if I was following the Reds and if I thought they’d make it to the World Series.

“The who? Oh…um…yeah, I guess they’re pretty good right now, huh?”

He looked at me like I had six heads.

I was not thinking about baseball.  Or groceries. Or how much per gallon of gas I could save if I used my Kroger card.  I was thinking about loss and love and a hole in my heart.  Everything else seemed trivial.

My first thought was to dismiss the pain.  But  I’ve  numbed the pain before, and it only makes it worse.  To try to not feel pain also keeps you from feeling joy.  And hope.  No, I want to feel it all.  It means I’m alive.

So I gathered my groceries and hurried to my car as the gray clouds condensed and hovered over me.  I crammed the groceries in the car between soccer gear and camping chairs and slammed the cart into the corral.  I made it back and laid my head on the steering wheel just as it started to rain.

I cried for the children I never got to hold.  I think of them everyday, but sometimes it’s especially hard.  Sometimes I feel like this is something I should “be over” by now, but clearly I’m not.  Statistically speaking, one in every four women has experienced the pain of miscarriage.  Even though it’s not necessarily a taboo subject anymore, it’s still not something that is openly discussed very much.  But for those of us who have experienced it, giving ourselves permission to grieve, while difficult, is necessary to let healing begin.

I think that, for me, the deep feeling of one sorrow opens the door to feeling sadness for others, too.  I remember friends who have lost their children much too young.  I think of others mourning the loss of a marriage. I think of a dear family member who is my age and has an incurable disease that will most likely shorten his life significantly.  It’s. Not. Fair.

The rain comes down hard.

I want to scream.

“THIS IS NOT HOW THE STORY IS SUPPOSED TO END!!!!”

How long, O Lord?

How long until every relationship under the sun is brought into the fulness of love You desired it to be?

How long until I see my loved ones healed of disease?

How long until every parent’s heart is united with their children?

How long until You return and set all things right?

Living in between times — that’s what we are doing.  Caught between the “now” of a broken world  and the “not yet” of a perfect one to come.  Yet sometimes heaven breaks through and breathes new life into dry bones.

Beauty from ashes.

In the Christian calendar, the season of Advent will be upon us in just a couple of months.  A time of expected waiting….for the coming Savior who will bring all things together.

And yet He’s already started.  With us.

I’m still trying to get my head around that. While we try to make our way in a broken world where nothing ultimately satisfies, He breaks in and realigns our vision.  He begins new life in us that will continue for eternity…

Heaven is an affirmation and confirmation that the beauties and sanctities of the visible creation — tree and rock, Jesus and Eucharist — are not illusions that trick us into what cynics think of as naive, useless, and silly practices of love, hope, and faith, but are realities that are in strict correspondence with what has been begun in us and will be complete in us.  (Eugene Peterson — Reversed Thunder)

When I try to see life in this light of eternity….the number of years, months, or days we spend as living human beings on this earth is much less significant than the everlasting life we are given through Christ.  From  embryos to the elderly, He has begun a good work in us all.  One day it will all come together, and it will be thrillingly beautiful.  Until then, I will continue to keep my sights set on eternity while I live in the middle.

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.  (C.S. Lewis)

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All Things New

I wish my mood matched the weather today. Outside my window sunlight is dancing through green and gold. Blue sky yawns; clouds pass and sigh. The sun and the breeze pull life along like a toy on a string. I want to dance in this warmth, but my heart is heavy — weighed down with grief for a friend going through a sorrow so deep, I can’t muster the strength to imagine it. She has to bury her newborn son.

I want to think about something else. Anything. I try to distract myself with chores and lists, but thoughts and words tumble through my mind and come careening out, spilling all over my good intentions. I can’t continue. I think about the pain she’s going through, and I fall to my knees and cry for her, with her, though she doesn’t know it now.

I want to push sorrow aside and continue on with my day.  It hurts too much to sit with these feelings of grief and fear…opening up old wounds.

But sometimes we need to press into the pain, no matter how much it hurts. We need to let the wound open up and expose it to the air. I feel vulnerable. The mother-heart is wrenched and twisted with grief for another.  My soul is filled with a familiar ache, and I am afraid.

But then He whispers to me, reminding me of His love reaching through the pain. He shows me the garden of Gethsemane — tears and sweat and blood, anguish so deep. Praying for that cup to pass, yet embracing it in full obedience, He had nothing to block the pain, no one to offer relief. Heaving heavy beams upon His beaten frame, He went willingly. Nails driven through flesh, his heart broke wide open as Love poured out for all, even for those who drove the spikes into his hands and feet. They couldn’t take His life; He gave it…for them…for me…for you. True love is costly.

He reminds me of the glory that comes through pain. Resurrection cannot happen if there is nothing dead to revive. Hope reigns, and death is not the end. We treasure the now because we know each moment is sacred.  There is a still sweetness that comes with sorrow, along with the peace that He makes all things new.

 

Would you join me in lifting up a grieving family?  Here is their story: