Dec 14, 2016

Hand in Hand

I'm a little overwhelmed lately.  I've been feeling some added stressors in life, specifically surrounding the vast amount of people I seem to know who are suffering, both from physical and emotional challenges, and trying to figure out how to cope with it all (not very well, obviously).  Every time I turn around, I hear of another person’s heartache.  I can’t help but to stop and wonder, how do I grasp my arms around people and their suffering when, no matter what I do or say or how many casseroles I bake (I don’t really bake, but you get the point), it won’t change the end result? 

And then, to compile the anguish even higher and wider and deeper, we’re smack-dab in the midst of the holiday season, a season that should be filled with joy and love and togetherness.  Yet, how can we possibly find happiness in this murky world?    
While I don’t claim to know the answer to any of these questions, thankfully, I know where to turn for some clear-cut clarity.  The other day, in fact, I sent an urgent text to my spiritual director and believe me when I say I’m certain he could read right through the lines of my scrambled and scattered words (he knows my ramblings well by now).  I laid out all of my concerns and described the picture of an unwanted and stormy-looking cloud, looming above all that I know to be good and true.  There's a part of me that wants to slam the door on the world and it’s in-your-face-reality and say, NOIt’s not fair!  None of this is fair!  You want us to choose joy, Lord, but then we pick up the newspaper and read the tragic headlines, or attend our umpteenth wake-service of the year and we’re supposed to be ok with it all?  We’re supposed to move forward with our lives?  We actually have to pick up our feet and place one in front of the other...and then again, in front of the other?  

No matter the grief?

Well.  God says yes...yes to all of the above.

You and me...we look at our sadness as if it’s a punishment, the direct-result of a life that should have been easy, but is nothing short of brick walls and treacherous holes in the ground that we try ceaselessly to avoid.  

But in reality, it's like this.  When God brought us into being, He didn’t do so for us to live forever.  And I think some of us forget that from time to time; present-company included.  We hold on out of fear.  Desperate, pain-staking fear.  We cling to that which we eventually need to let go of, so that we can avoid earthly goodbyes at all costs.  But you know and I know they can’t be avoided.  God will see to it that He calls His sons and daughters home when He sees fit.  Not a moment before, or after, and most importantly, no matter the age – young or old (young or old, by the way, are HUMAN terms and subject to HUMAN perspective, not God’s).  We simply can't predict or assume when our time will be.
Do these facts make grief any easier?  Nope.  So why do we insist on twisting the truth to make it easier?  The truth is that we can love...and...we can grieve.  They are interchangeable.  They go hand in hand.  If we love, we will grieve.   

Take a deep breath, my friends, and let that truth settle deep into your heart. 

If you've never grieved, I'm afraid you've never loved.  You've never really opened your heart and exposed it for someone else to journey through, right beside you.  You've never allowed love to seep down into the crevices for it to change you forever. Because that's what love does, just like grief.  

It changes us forever.  

So if you feel a cloud looming overhead, just know that it's not really a cloud at all. It's a shield of protection; of love and grief mixed beautifully into one.  And together, they're helping us to live a well-meaning life. 

In the deepest, darkest, and murkiest of places, God asks us to trust Him.  To lean on Him.  

Friends...May He find us faithful.