I’m sitting on my front steps, sipping tea and listening to The Beatles sing “Let It Be”. I’m soaking in the Autumn sun and for the first time in the longest time, I am at peace. The last twelve months were a relentless journey through the storm. I lost my sister, I lost my peace, and I feared I would lose myself. Whether you want it to or not, grief changes you. It changes the way you view life, the way you view family, yourself, and ultimately the way you see God.
I have lost everyone in my family of origin (with the exception of one brother, and my precious nieces and nephews). I thought I knew how to do loss. When I was told that my sister’s cancer was untreatable, I knew what to do. I would make space for her to walk her final journey the way she wanted to. I would tell her that I love her. I would put my arms around her so that when she was gone, I could remember what her arms were like wrapped in mine. I would cry in private so she didn’t bear the burden of my grief along with her own. I would shield my children from as much pain as I could. When she was gone, I would grieve her, and then I would pick myself up and move forward, and I would be okay because I knew how to lose.
Except this time there was no going on. This time, when I searched for strength, all I found was rage. I found myself screaming at God; “Is this all you created me for? Did you make me just to display grief and loss?” I screamed out the same “why!” that is screamed by hurting people everywhere and I wondered who I would be at the end of this journey.
That’s the thing with grief isn’t it? We all want to know why. We all want someone to tie life’s messy, painful ends into a neat bow. We think if we know why it will somehow make it better, but when it comes to grief there is no explanation that could make it better. So what do we do in the face of all this pain? We can resist it, push it away, and refuse to bend to it but ultimately it will break us. Or, we can bend beneath the weight of our grief. We can let it be, we can cry our tears, groan our groans and let the river flow where it will until it runs its course. We can accept that there are some things we will never understand. We can acknowledge that this part of life feels unfair. We can allow ourselves to sit with the pain and let the river wash around it. We can raise our hands in brokenness and tell God, honestly, how we are hurting.
That’s what I am doing; I am letting the river flow. I’m letting it wash away the unanswerable. I’m coming to understand that God does bring good out of all things (not that it negates or justifies the pain) – it’s just that he pours love on the hurting. I’m giving up my preconceived ideas that grief must have some higher reason or purpose. One day, God-willing, I will be face to face with Jesus and I don’t think the why of this will be on my list of questions.
I think on that day, my request will be this; “Show me”. Show me the places you held me in the middle of that nightmare. Show me, the ways you wrapped me in perichoretic love so that I could catch my breath when I thought the pain was killing me. Show me, how you created space for me in the storm. Show me, the tears you cried over my heartbreak. Show me, where you were when I needed you. Show me, how you put me back together again. And in truth, I know he has done all these things. When I picture that day, I believe he will show me. I believe it won’t be in words. I believe it won’t be a theological explanation of the fall of humanity. I believe it won’t be a pat answer tied in a neat bow. I believe it will be Jesus’ nail scarred hands wrapped around me, soothing my heart. I believe it will be his tears dripping on my head as he holds me. I believe I will see. I believe he will show me the depth of his love and compassion for me. I am content that the only answer I may ever have is the embrace of Christ. It’s enough, more than enough.
And so here I sit, in the sunshine…