This post first shared as issue 25 of These Sacred Words
I’m sitting at my kitchen table, surrounded by cardboard boxes and packing tape. I’m currently craving popcorn, but I’m pretty sure it’s packed under a pile of kitchen stuff, so it doesn’t feel worth it to unbury it right now. My phone buzzes every few minutes with reminders [buy more boxes, get locks for the U-haul, clean the carpets, forward our mail], making my brain feel distracted and scattered.
Of course, with such a big life change, our minds are swirling with emotions, but thankfully the strongest emotion we both feel is peace. In the midst of all the unexpected changes and interruptions of last year, the Lord was so gracious to provide us with feelings of peace and hopefulness for this next step.
Needless to say, with this being our last week in Colorado, I’m feeling a range of emotions.
I’m feeling grief from a season that shifted unexpectedly, at plans that did not go how we had hoped, at disappointments and hurts that happened along the way. I’m also feeling waves of gratitude and joy for time spent in a place that, for all its hardship, shaped us – a place we love with people who so quickly became family. My heart swings wildly from grief over leaving to excitement over a fresh start; tears on our last Sunday with our church family to grateful smiles at the depth of relationships forged there.
The good and the bad mingle together, as they always do, and I begin to see, with surprise, that there is somehow space in my heart for both. I begin to see that, in his grace, God is using this – the intermingled hope and grief – to strengthen my trust in who he is.
It makes me think about our infertility journey. One of the hardest parts about infertility has been the cyclical nature of it. No matter how hard I try, it happens each month. As soon as I start the process of hoping, I am blindsided by sudden grief. Then, just as I am finishing the process of grieving another month’s “no,” my heart shifts again to tentative hope. This cyclical rhythm makes it hard for me to feel settled, either in my grief or in my hope.
But over time I have realized that this cycle, it is doing something in me.
This rhythm of hope and grief, hope and grief, hope and grief… it is growing a callous of trust in my heart. The skin is getting thicker. My spiritual muscles toughen as again I am invited to hope, again I am invited to lament, again I am invited to trust God more this month than I did last month.
And isn’t that the Christian life? We are continuously rejoicing and continuously grieving. Whether we are mourning our own pains or someone else’s; whether we are feeling our own joys or the joys of a friend. The beauty and brokenness is always coexisting.
And in these places we have the opportunity, over and over again, to remind each other to trust God in the midst of it all. Life will never be perfect on this side of heaven, but as we struggle we come to know God and trust him more.
Like a blister acquired from a too tight shoe, the difficulties of life squeeze and hurt us, but after days [weeks, months, years] of continued friction, the callous develops. The skin grows stronger. We are more and more able to withstand.
And maybe it’s not about arriving at a place of comfortable, settled trust in God’s character and plan. Maybe it’s not about being secure in my hope or settled in my grief. Maybe it’s about the continual stretching and failing and wrestling and growing as I am pushed to trust God more. As I am reminded again and again that in ALL things, in both the hope and the grief, God is good.
“The Lord is good to all, and his mercies are over all his works.” – Psalm 145:9
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” – James 1:17
“You are good and you do good” – Psalm 119:68a