Friday I moved my son into his new apartment. This is the second time I have done this so you would think it would have been easier. This time he is fifteen minutes from home. I will see him frequently. But it still made me sad. While we were making one of many trips to his apartment that morning, my phone rang. A dear friend called to tell me a woman, a mother, someone I adore who has raised 5 amazing children despite losing her husband early in their lives - had experienced another devastating loss. The night before, her son and daughter-in-law and their 3 children who were home on furlough from their missionary post in Italy had been driving and were t-boned by a tractor trailer. Her daughter-in-law did not survive. Her grandchildren were now motherless and she would now watch her son walk through the dark days of grief she knew all too well. I was overwhelmed with sadness. I cried in the car and prayed for that precious family. I tried to pull myself together and go back to moving my son but the news hung over me like a cloud. A couple hours later I received a text from my oldest daughter. A family friend, a mother, found out her newborn baby will spend the first few years of her childhood in and out of specialists' offices due to a neurological disorder that could result in seizures and glaucoma. She is less than a month old. Then another call that a couple my family loves is divorcing.
At this point I wanted to throw my phone out the window. I wanted to scream and cry and ask God where He had been the last 24 hours of everyone's life. So I cried. I prayed. I yelled at my husband over something dumb. He looked at me like I was losing my mind which was not even offensive because it felt true. The rest of my day was filled with unpacking boxes, hanging curtains and pictures, and then getting my youngest daughter and her friends to a football game. I thought how strange it was that all around me life kept moving and I just wanted to stop. I wanted to be alone and be quiet and grieve over everything around me that made no sense. Then I remembered Thursday.
Thursday morning I was walking and praying. Over everything, over nothing. Just the normal daily stuff. Then I heard the Lord speaking to me about grieving. He was telling me how people don't grieve enough which I thought was kind of weird because most people are really sad. But then I heard Him say- the reason there is so much depression is because there is not enough grieving. If we knew the importance of taking the time to grieve- we would stop bottling up all the painful emotions that lead us into addictions, illicit relationships, and unhealthy patterns. As Americans with our staunch belief in the pursuit of happiness - we cannot stand the idea of grieving. We want to be happy all the time. It is our right as Americans. The only problem is- it's not healthy or realistic. There will come a day when every tear is wiped away and we know joy and peace that will never be disturbed but today is not that day. Today we can get phone calls that change our worlds in a matter of seconds. And we can take the time to process the pain and grief with God or we can pull up our boot straps and muscle our way through it. But eventually the straps break and our muscles give out. We cannot do this on our own. The pain is too much to bear. So we need a Savior. We need the One who rescues us on the days we cannot take one more phone call. We need the One who will let us scream and cry and accuse Him of missing it- then He will pull us close and whisper words of love into our ear- that He knows our pain, that He is grieving with us, that He will redeem everything but in the middle part- in the painful part- here between the beginning and the end of the story- this part where we live our daily lives- He is here. He doesn't miss a thing. And He will let us grieve. When the unthinkable happens- He is our Comfort. He understands because here in the middle of the story- He doesn't get everything He wants either. He watches the pain that comes from sin and sickness- this was not the plan. He created perfection and we broke it. We continue to break it. The world is broken.
Everything I experienced Friday was worthy of grief- all on different levels but still all a type of grief. My friend and her family will grieve the loss of their loved one and while their hearts will heal with the help of their Savior - they will miss her presence in their lives for their lifetime. The mother of the newborn will grieve the difficulties her sweet girl may have to walk through and all that means for their family. The couple will grieve the loss of their marriage and all that goes with the shattering of the dream of a lifetime spent with one another.
And I will grieve the end of a season - the end of my son's childhood. It is sad and wonderful all at the same time. If I don't allow myself to grieve the end of one season I won't be able to fully embrace the next one. So I grieve the end of the little boy that sat in my lap to watch TV- the one who would ask for "a piece of my drink" and then look up at me with his big blue eyes and eyelashes so long they would get stuck together, the little boy that wanted me to make the van "fly", the one who sang "I believe I can fly" as loud as he could as he ran through the house...this was the theme song of his life, the boy that asked me questions I could never answer ( Like "if a warrior and a jaguar got in a fight- who would win?"....I always felt that would be answer "D. Not enough information" or "E. This is really not relevant to anyone's life"). And tomorrow or one day soon I will celebrate my college-aged son who is living on his own learning to be an adult and pursuing the dreams God has placed in his heart for his future.
Whatever you are grieving- give yourself grace and space to grieve it. Don't bully your heart into happiness when it needs time to process pain. But also don't wade into grief alone. Invite Jesus into the pain and ask Him to teach you how to grieve. While you may have a season of grief- it is not meant to be a continual season. The reason we grieve is so that we can rejoice.
"Weeping may last for the night but joy comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5
Joy is your promise on the other side of grief.