Grief is never fair. It is never patient, waiting till we are ready. It never gives you a break or a moment to breathe. It never appears in the same way twice, which leaves us feeling isolated and alone in it's grasp. Grief is a bully. Grief is aggressive. It attacks when you are the weakest and most tired or just after your greatest moments of joy when you think you are strong. Grief is always too heavy to bear and yet we, the stumbling, have to continue on.
There are tragedies that happen in this life that are too horrible to mention. Things that aren't right. I imagine grief dropping from the sky like an emotional atomic bomb while we are out laughing in parks or grabbing milk at the grocery store, oblivious to the shadow in the sky that signals grief's coming attack.
What can we do? How do we push through grief's smothering fog?
The definition of grief is: "keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret."
In our darkest, most grief filled moments, our desire (that which we are reaching for and shouting out to) is the removal of the affliction or the resurrection of the loss, for the wrong to be made right. But, sadly, this is usually not possible. The loved one is still gone, the marriage is still over, the house is still destroyed, the money is still lost, each without the ability to return.
I have heard people say weird things to others who are grieving and recently something that was said made me reel. It just didn't make sense to me and made me want to snap at the person, telling them that they weren't helping with their trite, shallow, cure-less words (perhaps I need to blog about anger issues as well). This is what they said,
"When you are suffering and grieving, just think of what Jesus went through being tortured and killed for ourselves and all of humanity."
I hate how hearing this made me feel. I hate my reaction to it but, it has made me look underneath my reaction for some hidden truth about my understanding of my Christ following life. Of course I appreciate, with my every breath, the salvation that Jesus supplied me through the most horrific of circumstances. Of course I would never want to downplay or minimize or disparage His rescue. But, when it comes down to it, I can't imagine that telling someone who has just broken their arm to feel better by thinking of someone else who has broken both arms and both legs. The pain doesn't go away.
When I think of Jesus' death on the cross I think of how He knew, even if just a bit, of the awful suffering He was about to endure and yet He still went forward with it. He still chose the whipping, the abandonment, the humiliation, the brutality of the cross, and the rest of the anguish of His unjust sentence.
Was it the payoff?
Is this the blinding light that outshines grief?
The payoff that Jesus had was/is us. Our redemption. Our salvation. Our rescue. The start to all things being made right and the first step towards the realization of His kingdom. This payoff didn't make the pain go away. It didn't cease the suffering or grief but, perhaps, it allowed Him to endure without succumbing to utter hopelessness or self pity or victimization or bitterness or any number of our common responses to grief.
This is where I have landed with these two thoughts:
1. Perhaps my grieving has a payoff, one so great that I will not sink into the cold depths of grief's grasp. If so, what is it?
2. I can see Christ's love for me through His suffering, does my suffering also show love? To whom does it show it to?
As many of you know, Jonny and I recently did a Kickstarter to raise money for a new recording project and an adoption of a child to add to our family. We watched in shock as your contributions climbed nearer and nearer to our goal. You loved us well through your support of our family and this huge next step in our story. Then, early one morning in December, I woke to see/hear two amazing things
#1. Just a few hours earlier our Kickstarter had fully funded, reaching our goal.
#2. A birth mother had chosen our family to adopt the precious baby girl she was carrying in her womb.
Our joy was so great that we thought our hearts might easily explode. She is coming. She is coming. She is coming. The words beat through my chest in rhythm with my heart. We began a beautiful journey with the birthmother that included Ultrasound visits where we marveled at baby girl's full lips and delicate fingers. We laughed together about the heartburn that baby girl's inch long hair was giving her. Our eyes filled with tears as we shared our stories with each other and sat in awe at the way that God lead our winding path's together. Then we beamed as we gathered at the hospital Sunday afternoon to spend the day celebrating baby girl's near arrival. She had announced her coming that morning and we waited on toe tips. After hours of labor our sweet birthmother was rushed into the operating room for an emergency C-Section and at 4:49 AM Monday morning January 20th, 2014, Ruby Fox Darling was born. Her thick, dark hair, tiny nose, full cheeks, long legs and soft shoulders were an example of perfection. God had formed her beautifully and wonderfully, ready to be loved and our love for her was immediate. But, our time with her was not long enough. At 3:30 PM I held my baby girl and sang to her a lullaby that I wrote for Scarlett, for the nights when she was troubled or scared and couldn't sleep
Jesus holds you close tonight
So you can sleep
So you can dream
Go to sleep
You can dream
Jesus holds you close tonight
So you can sleep
So you can dream
Yes, you can sleep
Yes, you can dream.
I sang and I watched her pass away. Because of a fluke, because of something that couldn't have been foreseen, because of something that couldn't have been changed or predicted or fixed our baby Ruby passed away the day she was born.
Grief has no power without love.
When life all gets boiled down and we look and see the roots of our great griefs, we can find our great loves there, in the soil. Our family has chosen to love. With this choice we have acknowledged that we are risking great sorrow, pain, heartache, tears but it is all for a purpose, a payoff, a reward that is greater than the grief. This payoff will always outshine, even blindingly, the darkest days. That payoff is Love itself. 1 John 4:8 says, "Anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love."
Every time we throw the dice to love we are showing a willingness to suffer. We are saying, "You are worth great pain. You are worth long nights full of tears. You are worth aching and grieving for. You are worth my love. "
We have chosen to love God and oh how we have ached for it.
We have chosen to love others and oh how we have paid in tears.
BUT the joy in loving God and loving others is always, ALWAYS, greater than grief.
Grief is never fair BUT in the end, grief will never win.