“Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains.” Proverbs 14:13
This month I’ve had two episodes of glass breaking. The first occurred when Tyler knocked a lamp off a table shattering the light bulb spraying tiny pieces in every imaginable direction. The second happened when yes, Tyler, dropped a glass scale on the tile causing it to break in various fragments with a continual crackling in what remained of the scale. It’s interesting considering both breaks involved glass but the aftermath looked different. Such is Grief. It doesn’t have rules. There isn’t a playbook or a set expectation. Like glass shattering, grief sends splintered shards of your heart in all directions. Remnants of what “was” continue to be discovered as gut wrenching reminders of what will never “be” again. Not that things can’t be restored & made new but letting go of what has been is hard & that’s the first step into what is to come.
“For the land you are about to enter and take over is not like the land from which you came….”
Oftentimes when I write it’s something I’m currently struggling through or learning, but at least feel some sense of resolution. Not with this. I’ve been waiting, writing thoughts and quotes as they grab my thoughts. I’ve been living and processing, but see no end in sight. I write to make sense of things. I write to share my experience with others. I write in prayer that somehow my pain can help someone who is struggling. Yet now I write out of pure obedience because I don’t see how my jumbled thoughts and emotions are going to make much sense. I’ve been holding onto this theme for several months waiting for the moment when I know it is time. That time did not come in the way I expected it to, but here I am typing away.
“Rather, the land you will soon take over is a land …. with plenty of rain.”
I’ve been waiting for a moment of clarity but inevitably something happens….a subtle reminder of the pain that remains. I so desperately want to share something encouraging that sends the message “I’ve figured something out.” No such luck. Time can pass but in an instant the emotions come crashing with an intensity I’m completely unprepared for. So here I am with an unnerving level of authenticity that I pray at least offers comfort of solidarity. Know you are not alone. I’m hurting too. When I used to envision grief and pain of loss it always dealt with death. The kind of death that involves one passing from this life into eternity. Although that is so utterly painful, it makes sense to me. This void causes a shift of perspective and makes each memory hold so much more depth. I remember this hitting me on the way to my grandmothers’s burial. Her death felt too abrupt, although we knew it was coming.
My current struggle is grieving the loss of what still holds breath. The letting go of what I thought life would look like. This grief is a daily struggle to determine what reality is, for today…one day at a time. Submitting is a daily grind when it entails a surrender of something you want with all your heart yet know its not in God’s plan, well at least not for today. Maybe it is a dream that appears to no longer be a possibility, maybe a relationship that has seen its last chapter or a calling to move onto something ahead but to leave behind what you still love. Perhaps the grief of time, as it does carry on lest our best efforts, has brought about realities you never thought you’d face yourself. How do I grieve what remains to offer life to others, but for today has no room for me? This reality can be utterly devastating. In these moments I find myself face down on my blue shag rug crying my eyes out to songs like “I Surrender” and “I’m Listening”. Other times I blast music as loud as it goes in my headphones, take off running down the road and try to drown out the noise with heavy metal and screaming guitars.
“…a land that the Lord your God cares for. He watches over it through each season…”
I’ve discovered a new form of grief in the changing of seasons. I’m learning what it looks like to let go of dreams and desires that aren’t bad in and of themselves but yet the answer is still “no” or simply not now. Guys, I’m in the midst of a heartbreaking journey. Yet where anything is broken there is a promise of restoration. My God is good and I trust Him, so I willingly remain steadfast abiding in the shadow of His wings. There is one thing I don’t want to miss, that’s HIM. Uncertainty is certain, but Jesus is here with me through it all. If the goal or end hope is anything other than Him, I’ll be greatly disappointed. There are so many things in this life that I truly believe are His desires for me, I just don’t have the road-map for all the stops along the way. I don’t want to give up dreams and hopes that are so deeply woven in my soul because something turned out differently than I thought it should. It can be excruciating, overwhelming, even paralyzing when life…well when life happens. We can pray continuously, sob endlessly, bargain and plead, but sometimes life just is what it is. What do we do then?
“….He will send the rains in their proper seasons – the early and late rains- so you can bring in your harvests…” Deuteronomy 11:10-14
In this season of grief, I’m embracing the truth that HE IS ENOUGH. He is enough to handle my disappointment, questions, anger, sadness & fear. He is enough to be my comfort, teacher, Father, husband, counselor, refuge and friend. When the scattered pieces of broken glass appear & even cut me deep….instead of being surprised, I’m learning to immediately take the pieces to Him. The pieces will continue to appear as I live but I cannot live with the delusion that they aren’t there. He makes beauty from ashes. He creates collages from broken things. Out of my shattered heart He will bring forth a flame that will catch fire to refine my deepest hurts for His purpose of redemption. This I believe and hold fast when the pain threatens to suffocate. He is my breath. Not the outcome of a situation, healing of pain, restoration of relationship, return of what was lost…no, He alone is my comfort & He is here NOW. I don’t have to wait for the pain or grief to subside to live the life He has for me. I have a beautiful life in the midst of it all. God goes before us. His provision prepared in advance. Even in the midst of uncertainty, His plan prevails. He has planned for every moment. My life is so full today because it is centered on Him. I don’t want to miss the blessing of the present, I want to experience the depth of it all. The joy and the pain.
“Each heart knows its own bitterness, an no one else can fully share its joy.” Proverbs 14:10
When loss occurs there is a somewhat unsettling stark reality check. What once was will never be again. It leaves you forever changed. It adds a tenderness to life, an appreciation of the present. Grief doesn’t take away from the beauty of the moments in the past but adds a level of gratitude mixed with vulnerability sometimes in unwelcome measure. This is where I’ve been with grief lately. It’s a common misconception of mine looking back over life and still can be today. If I’m obedient, why does it hurt so bad? If I’m listening to God and doing what He’s asked me to do, shouldn’t it be easier? Grief is something in the past I’ve associated only with death or disobedience. It’s a new experience as I approach grief from a posture of obedience, trusting God’s provision. If you’re hurting and grieving please don’t think something is wrong with you. Sometimes obedience can hurt the most, especially when people don’t understand. Loneliness may visit, but remember you are not alone. Of one thing I am certain – He will never let you down.
“Oh Lord, you are my God, for in perfect faithfulness You have done marvelous things, things planned long ago.” Is 25:1
I picture a dark tunnel where I am standing at one end, seeing light on the other side and knowing the only way to get there is to walk through the pain. I never lose sight of the light up ahead, but there is uncertainty with what each present step has for me. I do not waver because the light is ahead. I don’t know how long it will take me to get there. What is behind may seem closer, maybe if I turn around and go back? But no. I must move forward. I must because He is calling. He has something waiting for me. So I trudge on.
“Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy.” Psalms 126:5