Grief and Joy

Caring Bridge Journal Entry — Apr 4, 2018

Preface: This is the hardest journal entry I've written. Most of me doesn't want to share it with you but I feel compelled to. I've learned to trust that feeling so my hope is that this journal helps someone out there. That would make it worth it.

When we brought our Littles home from Africa over 5 years ago, Little #2 was itty bitty and petrified of Chris (and every adult male) so she did this funny thing. When she woke up from a nap, she would lift her head just enough to peak over the top rail of the cradle in our hotel room. If she saw Chris, she would instantly duck her head back down, squeeze her eyes tight, and pretend to be asleep. Sometimes, she'd fall back asleep. Then she'd repeat the whole routine again. And again.

It was hysterical to watch. But also really sad. I am convinced that her itty bitty mind thought that if she just closed her eyes tight, Chris would disappear. That if she just fell back asleep and started over, her new reality would disappear and things would go back to "normal." That the scary new people wouldn't be there the next time she opened her eyes. That it was all just a bad dream.In a way, sort of, I feel the same about my new reality.

Lately, I have been bumping up against a new emotion. I think it's Grief. This is so hard to share because it feels like if I talk about it, I legitimize it. But I'm realizing that talk or not, the new reality is here to stay. I can squeeze my eyes shut and hope it's not real but every time I open my eyes, it's still there.

The reality is that my lungs aren't healthy and no one can make them be healthy. There is no other reality. I have to learn to live with the fact that my brokenness is permanent.

The reality is that I'm alive and every day is a gift. The reality is that I don't get to assume I'll be alive tomorrow. That luxury is gone. It's a luxury that we all take for granted. I just don't get to take it for granted anymore.

The reality is that I will bleed again. And it will be horrifying. And I cannot control the circumstances. I cannot make it happen at "the perfect time." I cannot make it NOT happen.

Living carefree, in ignorance of the mess in my lungs is no longer my reality. Those days are over. And I'm grieving them.

There. I said it.

I'm grieving my past ignorance.

Where does that leave me? Does my grief negate my hope? No way!

It means my hope needs to shift. My hope is no longer in God's guidance of the doctors (although I still pray for that). My hope is no longer in complete miraculous healing (although I still pray for that). My hope is shifting much farther into the future.

My hope is in eternity. The Bible teaches that because Jesus was resurrected, that I too, as a child of God, will also be resurrected. And that resurrected body will be whole. Some people call that our glorified bodies. My glorified body will not be broken, frail, and missing parts. It will be whole and function as God designed it to function, perfectly. Honestly, having never been whole, I cannot even imagine what that will be like. But I'm looking forward to it.

I'm starting to look forward to eternity more and more. My grief is focusing my mind away from this physical and emotional pain and pointing it to heaven. And then I feel something else... Joy.

That's weird, right? My grief is producing joy. Joy, not a feeling, but a state of mind.

My sweet friend, Josh, reminded me that Jesus wept when Lazarus died. He thinks Jesus was not weeping over the loss of a dear friend, but instead that he was weeping for the sin that brought about Lazarus' death. Sin always brings death. So death is a reminder of sin. That's worth grieving over. Goodness! I needed to hear that! My grief is legitimate. My grief is for the brokenness in my body, the loss of peace of mind, and the permanent shift in my reality... all caused by sin in our world. That's worth grieving over.

But then, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. He made a new reality that brought joy to Jesus and those around him.

Hope is never inappropriate.

Even in grief. There is joy on the other side. Look farther. It's found in eternity.

"We have this certain hope like a strong, unbreakable anchor holding our souls to God himself. Our anchor of hope is fastened to the mercy seat which sits in the heavenly realm beyond the sacred threshold." - Hebrews 6:19 (The Passion Version)

I cried a lot this week. That's ok.

Psalm 56:8 promises,

"You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book."

It's ok to cry. It's ok to grieve. My tears do not go unnoticed.

The very next verse reminds me,

"This I know, God is on my side."

I do not grieve alone. I do not grieve forever. Hope is coming...it's a sure thing.