Sunday was the most special day! My two, beautiful daughters were baptized into the faith. This is the bottom line and the main thing. Nothing else really matters.
Still… can I tell you more of the story? Full disclosure 🙂
For weeks leading up to this event, I was heavy about the significance of this day in the lives of my daughters. I spent a lot of time praying and preparing, deeply longing for my girls to experience a real encounter with the Living God. I leaned in toward this goal.
While my soul and spirit were otherwise occupied, I didn’t notice the undercurrent of dark waters stirring! After all this time and practice, I didn’t see the waters coming. I didn’t know a wave of grief was about to overwhelm me on such a celebratory day…
My emotions were high that morning. I was expectant, and it turned up the heat in the waters of my soul… I was tired. The girls weren’t listening well or following instruction. I hadn’t eaten, yet. My spirits were sinking as the undercurrents were rising…
It has been a long time since this has happened. Well, quite a while anyway!? The waters in my soul collided and erupted into a perfect storm. I blew up, not even knowing why! I did the whole, “Why aren’t you listening to me? Isn’t anyone going to be helpful this morning?” I yelled and the girls got upset. Even still, instead of feeling any release or return to sanity, my own shame made it worse. My guilt was like a hot burner beneath the waters of my soul, the dial turning up the heat toward boiling… All of the pain, fear, anger, anxiety, and shame came bubbling up, as though I hadn’t spent the last 5 years climbing a mountain every day to get rid of them.
I closed myself in my own room for just a few seconds and gathered some sanity in the calm. I returned to the scene of the crime to make amends and restore the love, peace, and safety we enjoy as a family. My girls know me well and they were so gracious to forgive my emotional meltdown. I told them I was an emotional mess on this very special day, and Alea said, “Wow, mom. We’re so surprised!” – sarcasm noted 🙂
Peace was restored, but in the back of my mind I chastised myself, “How could you let this happen? How could you ruin such a special day? You aren’t any better at all. You’re not healed or healthy. You’re right back where you started.”
That one eruption of past grief had devastated me. I felt as lost and broken as I did 3 years ago. I felt alone, ashamed, and back in the barren wilderness of widowhood or perceived rejection. My whole inner person had been overcome by another wave and I was washed up on the shore in tattered clothes and a broken spirit.
I worked to keep those feelings at bay, so we could all live in the celebration. We managed to get out the door. (And I managed to leave the bag of towels and dry clothes behind! My parents came to the rescue as they often do and went back for it so my girls didn’t have to drive home in wet clothes in the Canadian winter!!!)
The service was amazing, and I had so much joy. I felt so much gratitude for this new family of mine. For a husband who loves God and has influenced the lives of my daughters toward such a real and vibrant faith. For a God who would write such a beautiful story of redemption, hope, and purpose through our lives.
Ultimately, my girls really did encounter Him in those precious moments of being buried in the likeness of His death, and raised in the likeness of His glory…!
We are a redeemed family.
I missed Lynn more than I can say. I wanted to weep all day at the loss of him. I wanted to see him, standing there in “the great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1), with a radiant smile on his face and tears of joy in his eyes. I can imagine him throwing his head back in laughter, or curling forward in irrepressible joy.
I was high on the mountaintop of gratitude for all that God has done, and I was deep in the sea of sorrow for all that has been lost.
WHAT IS THE GOAL?
Days like that (and the recovery days that inevitably follow), always make me question where I’m at. I ask questions like:
“Can I be considered healthy if days like this still effect me?”
“Does this mean I haven’t arrived to healing and restoration?”
“Is there a place to arrive, where waves like this no longer reach?”
“Can I still be a leader if I might get overcome by grief from time to time?”
“What does it actually mean to ‘move on’ or ‘be over it’? And is that really the goal?”
FRAMING YOUR STORY
A constant dilemma of mine since I married Brent has been this: How do I fully honor and rejoice with all that God has done, celebrate my new life and family… while honoring the experience of life in the unfinished?
If my story had been made into a Hollywood movie, than my re-marriage (especially to a man as amazing as Brent) would be the place where all plot tension resolves. All of the tensions that had arisen and climaxed would relax and be restored in the happy ending of romantic love.
This is how we plot our story-lines: present/introduce, build, climax, and resolve.
In the movies, we get used to seeing one chapter of a person’s life resolve to a perfect finish. But in the church, we have to frame our stories differently, as small chapters within the One Story – which is the story God and His Beloved. My story and your story both climaxed at the Cross of Christ and resolve with His Second Coming.
Husband or no husband. Child or no child. Wife or no wife. Job or no job. Your story climaxed at the cross of Christ, and resolves with His coming reign.
I am so blessed to live a life of rich provision. To be marked with heaven’s seal as “the one Jesus loves.”
But I still fall short of the glory of God.
I’m still desperately lost without His grace.
My soul isn’t fixed.
I’m not made complete.
The final act hasn’t come, and all my tensions are not resolved.
I do believe in healing, wholeness, salvation, sanctification, and divine empowerment for individual destiny.
And, the tension continues. The waves of grief still come. Even while clinging to eternal hope, my heart and mind can still plummet into the darkness of irrational despair.
No matter how hard I reach for the heavens, one foot is stuck in the mud…!
LIVING IN THE BOTH
It is hard for people to understand that life is lived in the both.
Most people “…do not have a worldview that includes the concept of an obliterated soul with the continued ability to smile.” (from my book in chapter 2)
There is joy, and there is sorrow in this life.
There is Light, and there is darkness.
There is Life, and there is death.
There is trouble, and there is an Overcomer.
There is tension, and there is Peace.
So what does this mean for the journey? What can I expect in this life? What does it mean to be healthy, healed, whole, restored? Do we ever arrive?
“I’m not there yet, nor have I become perfect; but I am charging on to gain anything and everything the Anointed One, Jesus, has in store for me—and nothing will stand in my way because He has grabbed me and won’t let me go.” (Philippians 3:12, VOICE)
THE GOAL: FAITH LIKE A CHILD
To be honest, I don’t think Jesus really cares whether or not I had a bad day. I don’t think he keeps a list of how often I’ve battled depression or found myself feeling extra tired.
Jesus cares whether or not I respond to Him in every and all circumstances. It matters that I come to Him in the good and the bad. And like a little girl who believes unabashedly in the imminent heroism of her mighty dad, it matters that I trust him.
“Without faith no one can please God because the one coming to God must believe He exists, and He rewards those who come seeking.” (Hebrews 11:6, VOICE)
I am a child.
He’s the one holding on – carrying this work He started unto completion (Philippians 1:6). He’s the one working all things for my good (Romans 8:28). He’s the one leading me in the way everlasting for the sake of his own name (Psalm 23:3).
This is the goal, that I come to love and trust God the way my sweet daughters have come to love and embrace a wonderful Father.
“I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whoever does not receive and welcome the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” (Mark 10:15, AMP)
LIVING THE BLESSED LIFE
The last chapter in my book is about Living the Blessed Life, on the other side of the dark night. Instead of realizing a new day that resembles a Hollywood flick’s final scene or embodies what most people seem to mean when they talk about “moving on” or “getting over it,” it reflects position and posture.
No matter what happens, I am positioned in Him.
No matter what happens, I am postured toward Him.
This life, no matter how many healings or blessings we joyfully receive, will continue to hold the both.
When there’s joy and when there’s sorrow.
When there’s dark and when there’s Light.
When there’s death and when there’s Life.
When there’s trouble and when there’s overcoming.
When there’s tension and when there’s peace.
The Blessed Life is lived when I just keep looking at Him. And then, no matter the season, I am found in Him. And all will be well.
He is my Dad.
And I am his Beloved.