“To accept reality is to forgive reality for being what it is, almost day by day and sometimes even hour by hour. Such a practice creates patient and humble people.”[i] –Richard Rohr
Well… that’s timely…
I want to be careful about this post… exceptionally careful…
Grieving any kind of loss is not primarily or necessarily about being dissatisfied with what (or whom) you have now. Even though the grief, itself, comes in very present waves; I would venture to say it is more accurately tied to both the past and the future. We grieve over past losses that do not allow us to move into the future in the way we had hoped. It doesn’t mean we can’t have good hours… or days… or lives. It doesn’t mean we can’t wholeheartedly embrace (and even love) what we’re doing immediately. But it does mean that expectations must shift as we stumble forward.
Several days ago, I wrote a rather hopeful piece about letting go. I meant every word. Then I remembered that doxologies aren’t quite the same as benedictions. They are ends to pieces and parts… not the whole thing.
Last night, I cried myself to sleep. I felt every tear rip through my body.
I have really big emotions, and life is complicated. It’s OK.
I prayed and worked and interviewed and begged for a small inner city Nazarene church, anywhere, all spring and into the summer, in hopes of co-pastoring with my husband and doing compassionate ministries work. As of this weekend, I live on 14 acres in the middle of a hog and chicken farm, a few minutes away from the UMC where I am the family ministries director.
I would like to know whose free agency messed this up!
But by ‘messed up,’ I really just mean that life doesn’t look like I expected it to, which is kind of a dumb statement to make, because it never does.
Who knows what might happen tomorrow… or in a year or two? I guarantee you that if you had asked me exactly two years ago, while I was lying on the beach, by myself, taking in the Pacific Ocean for the first time ever while alternating between talking to seagulls and reading a few pages of fiction; I never could have guessed what today would look like—not in a zillion lifetimes…
Having all of your plans completely blown out of the water does not have to be devastating. I mean, it is. Go ahead and back up and consider grief again for a moment. But it doesn’t mean that what you’re doing right now (that alternative thing you couldn’t have made up if you tried) can’t be pretty great.
The lectionary readings for today are all wrapped up in people who don’t quite understand what it is to accept suffering, or at the very least to accept a plan that doesn’t add up. Moses… David… Peter… even Paul… But then there is this gem tucked away in the reading from Jeremiah:
“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty” (15:16).
And something just resonated deeply. I think I love it best, because it’s not cliché, at all, even though it could be if we let it.
To me, it says, ‘even if… even when… even so…’
Stuff happens… or it doesn’t happen… and there’s not always a reason… and sometimes it is more than we can handle! Yet God is near, and we are God’s. These are words I want to eat for breakfast…