Monday, December 15, 2014

Joy, in the company of pain

It has been a few weeks since the dreaded/much anticipated November 25th, when Grace flew off into the wild blue yonder and came back down to earth in England.  We all survived.  There were tears, and lots of hugging.  Excitement. Joy. Gratitude. Laughter.

And yes, mourning.

I wonder how much of our daily difficulties and dysfunctions are rooted in a failure to actively mourn our losses, especially when they occur in bittersweet, emotionally complex and contrasting circumstances. 

Life is so full of loss.  It is easy to get confused when our losses are mingled with blessings, gifts, relief. 

Grief is difficult to deal with when circumstances are clearly sorrowful and grief is expected.  Add a bit of ambiguity, a measure of cheer in the midst of the pain, and it is too easy to minimize, or ignore the pain. Out come two little words that have failed to comfort people the world over.

At least.

At least she is happy, at least she loves Jesus, at least she is with people who love her, at least she is following her dreams, at least, at least, at least!

All of this is true.  Something else is also true, though.  I am her mother. I am an influence in her life, and that influence is not diminished by distance. Grace is in England.  England!   With a young man that she loves, with lots of opportunities and challenges, in a beautiful home, at the seaside.  And she's in mourning too.  She misses her dad and I, her home, her friends and family.  Her kitties and her stuff.  I need to make sure that she knows that it is okay to feel the way she feels, when she feels it and how often she feels it.  I need to be an example of authenticity, of the freedom in truth. 

With all my momma heart, I want her to know that even as her arms are over full with the blessings of her life, it is okay to feel sad about the good things that she had to let go of in order to receive the new good things.  Gratitude mingles with longing.  Joy keeps company with pain.

I don't want her to feel guilty for leaving.  We have spent hours talking about this, and our frequent Skype chats always include reports of how we are doing with the separation. 

How we find ourselves staring into space, with heavy hearts, safe in the love that God has surrounded us with.

How skipping into the crashing sea with new red wellies, or curling up in bed with a softly purring cat gives comfort in our deepest places.

How our hunnies are masterfully and diligently offering comfort at every opportunity, bless their loving hearts.

How small things go a long way in making us feel at home, because it's the small things that we miss the most.

Even as we wish a Merry Christmas to others, we understand that "merry" might be shooting a bit too high.  Or maybe too low.  Maybe letting go of "merry", in all it's sweetness, is necessary in order to embrace the strength and power of joy.

Maybe joy, in the company of pain, is the fruit of love.

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