Once a quarter, I like to step back to see where I’ve been and what I’ve learned. It’s a gathering of all the threads in life, and it helps me pause to take stock rather than rushing into the next thing.
Joining with Emily Freeman today, here’s some of what I learned this spring:
1. Great loss has not depleted life of great joy
If you’re on my Instagram, you’ve seen some of what May brought us. Almost six years ago, when my insides felt gutted and we were clinging to shards of life as we knew it, I hoped for a May. I could only trust it would come. Feelings didn’t give a hint that it might be true.
But God promises joy and his Word promises our seasons of grief will give way to joy. (Psalm 30:5, Psalm 126:5, Isaiah 35:10)
I still have young children to raise. I still have nights of deep missing and even this month held tears of a so-much-missed daddy. I’m still waiting in many ways for the fullness of chapter 2.
But taking God at His word is never a risk.
It may be a wait or a walk-through-this-first, but May has been a picture in every sense of His faithfulness.
2. We can acclimate to the not-so-normal new
Soon after Dan died, I mentioned “new normal” with a friend, when my daughter interrupted: “This isn’t normal, Mom.” No, baby, it’s not. Because losing your dad when you’re 17 or 12 or 6 or 4 or your husband when life and plans and next week’s to-do list stretched out before you will never feel normal.
May showed us not just joy in Chapter 2, but that practically we’re adapting to Chapter 2. On the second very late-night drive for Nick’s college graduation, with everyone asleep in the car, it hit me: I was driving and it didn’t feel out-of-sync.
It no longer felt off to stand alone next to my high school graduate when everyone else had their mom and dad. It didn’t feel out-of-place to be seated alone at the wedding. I’ve gotten used to the pace of single parenting and decision overload and even caught myself laughing at the crazy of a second-floor plumbing leak two weeks pre-wedding because what? I’m over having a Southern Living house.
Missing Dan is always there — the thin film over every event, every conversation, every supper. We may be limping, but limping no longer feels as awkward.
Correcting an Old Teaching
For years I’ve heard it said that one reason God allows suffering is so we can comfort others going through the same thing.
So, if you’ve had breast cancer, you can comfort someone else with breast cancer. If you’ve experienced infertility, you can comfort another couple dealing with infertility. And so on.
But that’s not what scripture says.
God says He comforts us in all our troubles so that “we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Cor 1:4
I’m not sure why that verse has stopped me in my tracks so much. Maybe because we limit ourselves? Or limit what God can do through us?
As fellow believers, who’ve known God’s comfort, we can offer comfort to all.
Even if we’ve never buried a child, we can comfort.
Even if we’ve never lost a job, we can comfort.
Even if we’ve never walked through a hard marriage, we can comfort.
We’re not off the hook if we haven’t experienced it.
God is so much bigger than our problems. Because God’s comfort to us is boundless, we can lavishly comfort others.
4. Our Summer Reading is off and running
I love slower days and less homeschooling, fewer evenings out and more simple meals. And summer reading.
I usually make suggested reading lists for my kids and our own summer reading program. (They like my incentives! Our brainstormed prizes: shaved ice, bowling, Sonic slushy, dollar store trip, personal pan pizza, an Xbox hour, pick your own cereal, choose a new book.)
Last week, I finished Option B by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook whose husband died suddenly on a treadmill at 47 years old. I underlined and highlighted like it was a college textbook. Grief isn’t a respecter and, though her book is secular, we shared so many common reactions and fears. Grief hits hard whether you run a multi-million dollar company or labor unnoticed in your kitchen.
I underlined almost as much in No More Faking Fine over the long weekend. There is sisterhood in the suffering even when stories are different. Faking Fine invites the reader into lament: “expressing honest emotions to God when life is not going as planned.”
It is impossible to move forward from pain without a healthy view of what God does with our hurts and heartaches. He wants pain to leave our hearts, minds, and bodies, but He doesn’t expect it to happen overnight, nor does He give us a formula for healing. But he does give us a language, and that language is lament. Faking Fine, by Esther Fleece
Esther’s story of childhood abuse and abandonment which lead to adult coping and fear may be fairly unique, but the Biblical practice of lament applies to any of us who’ve walked through hard. Two thumbs way up on this one.
So, how about you? What did your spring hold? What did you learn or what’s on your summer reading list? I’d love to know in the comments!
Xoxo friends, Lisa