Jesus never appeared to be in a hurry.
Not as He traveled or spoke or celebrated, and not when He wept, either. He paused and took time to feel His feelings. He chose to live in the moment, to be fully present right where He was, although as the God of the universe, He knew that the story wasn’t over.
Over the past few months I’ve started to pay attention to grief. Here’s what I’ve found:
It doesn’t always show itself through tears.
It doesn’t show up once, have its moment and then disappear.
It can make a sudden appearance at the most unexpected times.
It is not limited to the big things like the death of a loved one.
Grief takes time and often takes us by surprise, showing up days, weeks, even years down the road. On holidays with one less place at the table. On regular Wednesday mornings when you catch yourself thinking, “I used to be doing ___ at this time but times have changed.” On the first day of school when you’ve recently graduated. On phone calls when you can hear the change in the voice on the other line.
There are big things and small things that we’re all walking through, and although grief plays a part and often feels like loss, as we continue walking in and through it, grief leads to a remaking.
Nearly a year and a half ago I read the following quotes by Henri Nouwen for a homework assignment and was struck by the beauty and the simplicity of the thoughts:
The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing… not healing, not curing… that is a friend who cares.
When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.
It wasn’t until one month after graduation that I allowed myself to sit down and actually think about what that moment meant. Somehow, I had convinced myself that when I processed it all, I would fall apart. Partly because I had held the emotions at bay for months, partly because life looked nothing like what I imagined the new season would hold, and partly because a new adventure can be fun but that doesn’t make saying goodbye any easier.
I loved a place and a group of people with my whole heart and although the place is still standing and the people are still living, I found myself grieving. Grief is not a one-size-fits-all thing and as far as I can tell, either no one is talking about it or everyone else seems to have moved on just fine. Time has helped, as it does, but God has healed. Time has its way and God had His, but the best gift I gave myself came at 1am on a mid-June morning when I wrote down the words and gave myself permission to grieve.
I told myself what I would tell you:
You loved. You loved so hard and so full for the people who held your heart. You showed up time and again and it was good, it was so good. And now the page has turned. It is a new chapter but this is not a new story. The ones who held your heart are still there, still holding on, still loving you fiercely, and you are not alone. It is going to look so different in one hundred small ways that only you will see and feel inside. You don’t have to explain it all, you don’t have to have any answers, and you don’t have to hold it together.
You have permission to grieve what has been and what feels a little bit lost, but you are not lost. You are right where He has placed you for such a time as this. Walk on. Lift your chin and fix your eyes. Wipe the tears but don’t stop them because Jesus cried, too. You don’t have to hurry the process or stuff anything inside. There is no hurry. You have a Friend who is there in the dead of night and in the early morning light. This is one more sentence in your story. This is your remaking.