I interrupt this impromptu blogging spring break to bring you yet another quote.
If you are going to all the trouble of checking this little blog, than the very least I can do is to give you something new to look at or in this case think about. And since I’m on “spring break,” I sharing another quote I’ve recently made friends with.
The night before I read the pearl of wisdom somewhere at the bottom of this post, I was lying in bed trying to visualize the phrase, “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” This little power punch is popular at our church and it used to strike me to the side. I couldn’t quite absorb the intensity or the harshness of this statement. Honestly, I didn’t really like it and I didn’t want to like it.
And now, I can’t think of a better description of my state of being. Somehow, miraculously in the past year I have been molded into that statement. I have become a personification of what I most wanted to avoid. And what I once thought was grim and dour, I have found to be true and beautiful. There has been more soul-satisfying joy laid at my feet in these past eighteen months than all the months that proceeded it. And it has been a year steeped with grief and deep disappointment.
I have not been instructed in the time-tables of bereavement though I doubt it would have had much impact on my heart. I know now that grief comes in waves.
It kind of creeps up on you like the tide coming in at the close of a sunny day.
“I think I feeling sad again…No, no, it’s just cloudy out…. No wait, I think I am really sad…oh, no, I probably just need more sleep…. Wow, oh, there is pain here. Oh, I am sad.”
Quietly it ebbs and flows until all of the sudden you find yourself standing in a cold, salty puddle. And once again the sorrow is real. Red, puffy, wet face real.
In the midst of this I have a joy that I can’t explain or dispel. A friend told me this week that all winter, she would see me and think, “Oh, she must be pregnant. She seems so happy. She has to be pregnant.” I assure you that I am not, but the happiness is real. Because our God is rich in mercy, I have become the paradox I once feared: sorrowful, yet rejoicing (I have to omit “always,” because that wouldn’t be quite true). Even as I type this I am mystified by how the joy born out of suffering is truly greater than the happiness experienced before.
This was my state of mind as I began working on the lesson for my weekly Bible study group. We are working through Linda Dillow’s book, Calm My Anxious Heart, and this week’s study was being content with your role. Contentment with my role–my role as a mother of one child on earth and three children in Heaven. How does that work?
Here comes the promised quote that I was going to write a brief introduction to, but as you can see brevity is not one of my gifts. And since I desperately need to put my smiling, tear-licking self to bed, I pass this post off to Elizabeth Elliot. If you aren’t familiar with her (it’s high time to make her acquaintance), she is Christian author and teacher who was tragically widowed twice.
“One step at a time, over the years, as I sought to plumb the mystery of suffering (which cannot be plumbed), I began to see that there is a sense in which everything is a gift. Even my widowhood.
I say that I found peace. I do not say that I was not lonely. I was–terribly. I do not say that I did not grieve. I did–most sorely. But peace of the sort the world cannot gives comes, not by the removal of suffering, but in another way–through acceptance.” (Elizabeth Elliot, The Path of Loneliness)
Is that peace a gift beyond a salve for the loss that proceeded it? Could it be the balm for all sorrow?
P.S. If you have ever wondered how to help a friend grieve the loss of a child, I must direct you to Molly’s blog. She has started a series called, “How to Help Your Grieving Friend” and it’s brilliant.