I, like many of you, read and deeply resonated with Jen Hatmaker’s Good Friday post, When Treasured Things Are Dead.
Jen and I have had different journeys, different experiences, and I can’t even fathom her pain and grief.
I grieve for her, and with her.
And I know the difficulty of untangling life and ministry, Jesus and religion. I know wrestling. I know pain. I know hurt. I know loss. I know grief.
Some treasured things in my life are dead. A chapter has closed. A season has ended. While transition brings the hope of something new, it also brings searing pain of change and loss.
Yes, I know grief.
I am living with him these days. I wish I wasn’t. I would be happy to shake him off and push him out the door. But instead grief is an unwelcomed friend who has seemingly overstayed his welcome. Being ready for him to leave doesn’t negate his presence. So I change tactics, invite him to stay awhile, I sit with him, and experience all he brings. The anger, the sadness, the bargaining, the acceptance. Still, hoping he’ll get the hint and move on…eventually.
The morning after I read Jen’s post, I woke up with an unusual sense of peace and hopefulness. I woke up with eyes to see the “collateral beauty” that grief brings with him. I had watched the Will Smith movie the evening before and I woke up with a deep sense of knowing that grief is teaching me things. Grief is giving me things.
Eyes taught to discern true friendship.
A heart that can deeply mourn and empathize with a friend.
A soul that is begging for Jesus.
A hope for a realized Kingdom of Heaven.
And now I can’t stop seeing the gifts of grief.
In my daily devotionals…
“Mourning is indeed a brutal form of emptiness. But in this emptiness, if we can remain open, we discover that a mysterious “something” does indeed reach back to comfort us; the tendrils of our grief trailing out into the unknown become intertwined in a greater love that holds all things together. To mourn is to touch directly the substance of divine compassion. And just as ice must melt before it can begin to flow, we, too, must become liquid before we can flow into the larger mind. Tears have been a classic spiritual way of doing this.” Cynthia Bourgeault
An open emptiness.
A divine compassion.
In Dave Lomas’ Easter message about 2 hopeless men on the road to Emmaus who are unknowingly walking in step with a man who they believed was dead…
A holy disillusionment.
A surrender of false hope and expectation.
An unassuming intimacy with Jesus.
A faith in a redeemed future.
So grief may come. And he may stay as long as it is required to do the learning that is necessary to equip me for the next thing. I promise to not neglect the collateral beauty he leaves in his wake.
“The Resurrection means that the worst thing is never the last thing.” Frederick Buechner