Keith loved the weather. He could innately discern the distant mutter of an approaching storm and his senses were inexplicably keen to the faint suggestion of rain in a misfit breeze. He would often, with the expectancy of a child on Christmas morning, stand outside, his face gently turned upward, watching the icy grey sky. He always knew when another storm was coming, snowstorms, windstorms, sandstorms and firestorms, some fierce and others small, always keeping an eye on what may be brewing unexpectedly from a fickle sky.
While Keith felt most at home under clouds dragged down by heavy rain held in delicate frames, I do not. I call the sea and the sun home. I much prefer equilibrium and balance to the disorientated chaos of skittish weather.
Most of humanity does not live with the anticipation that the rug may be yanked out from underneath them at any given time. Life changing events do not typically announce themselves. But the experience of loss profoundly changes this tendency, forcing those within its reach to live with the unflinching reality of vulnerability at all times. A by-product of grief I suppose, is the knowledge that sometimes pain, like an unannounced storm, can come out of nowhere.
Studies suggest that the top five most stressful life events include the death of a loved one, divorce, job change and major illness or injury. The experience of just one of which valiantly disrupts equilibrium and balance. Living in the shadow of four out of five is an avalanche of sorts, in which every sense is maxed out and every muscle working beyond intended capacity to simply remain upright. While instinct and intuition offer the faint suggestion of an approaching storm, they offer little preparation for the feeling of rootlessness that follows an upending life event.
Transition is nothing new to this girl. Having grown up a vagabond of sorts I delight in the exploration of new landscapes both physical and personal. But I was ill prepared for this most recent shift, for you see, grief alters even the most indomitable gypsy spirit. When the call came in April announcing new horizons and fresh ministry opportunities for our family I was not taken by surprise. I, like Keith with an approaching storm, was keen to the faint suggestion of instability on the horizon, but I was ill prepared for the collateral damage that would occur as a result. You see, while I was certainly open to new horizons and the opportunity to spread my wings if you will, I miscalculated the toll on my children, whose experience with brokenness is once again evident in the anger, confusion, sadness and frustration that now mark the tenuous moments of our days…and this mama’s heart is bone weary.
Were I to explain in great detail the logistical hurdles of settling five adolescents into their respective nests, leaving my own half empty, were I to impress upon you the implications of a transition as a solo parent in a sea of partners, were I to express the depth of my conflicting emotions as the sun rises and sets on new you might think me grumbling. That quite simply is not the case, for the expression and admission of struggle is not rooted in hopelessness and complaint. It would be far simpler to disguise the import of this experience to those around me, to be disingenuous of expression as to ease the burden bearing of others. But to do so would be to risk becoming unrecognizable to myself. The admission of human frailty without ambiguity is instead the announcement of yet another hurdle in an arduous climb toward the promise of a stunning summit. Clearly grief and belief in the resurrection are not an either or proposition. Jesus himself shows us that they are a both, and. We can feel the sorrow and the pain of loss with gut wrenching clarity and still possess unflinching faith.
And so I live in a place of authenticity, expressing the depth of my experience to avoid the wounding of silence. Jesus came to bring healing. He longed for all of humanity to be whole. He longed for us to experience abundance in life. To be open to the whole range of human experience and emotion. This is strength, staying open to life even with all the pleasures that fade and the pain that sticks around for too long.
It will take time for the emotional dust to settle as we adjust to the new and the now. These times are hard, but I won’t walk away jaded, darker or different. This wasn’t my plan A, B or even Z but I am upright even so. And one day, in spite of this treacherous mountain, I will rise in wonder at what the Lord has revealed of me. The dark, the captivating, the untamed, the secret, the light. For I live split wide open to tell a story of redemption, mercy and grace. I have seen the violent turbulence of the strongest storm stilled by the quiet promises of God, and better storms than this haven’t taken us down yet. Today nothing remains as it was, and so this tender heart will begin again, in relentless pursuit of joy in the uprooting. One day I am certain to wake up to find that it all made sense. I am sure to discover that the prayers so tangled in worry were carefully wrapped with great intention in the grip of grace. And now, even before I am certain that the storm will lift quickly, I know that God can be trusted, and He will not waste the rain.
“…I have come that they may have live, and have it to the full.” ~ John 10:10