Words have been hard to come by lately because I have been living in the grief of missing our normal life. The sun isn’t shining, it’s cold outside, sports are cancelled, no sleepovers with friends, the anticipation of weekends dulled by the monotony of the lock-down, life has been depressing to say the very least. I understand the comments and post about us having “first world problems” or that we should be joyous in the fact that we are “safe at home”. I can appreciate the positive spin on our current situation, but still, there is grief attached to this season in our lives. Isn’t grief after all, just an extreme case of fear? What will it be like now? What will the future look like without something that we were so in love with? Maybe it was a person, a job, our bank account, our health, our sports accomplishments, our education, a relationship. Grief, is the fear of never feeling that kind of security, joy, love or excitement again. It’s the deep roar of our hearts knowing for sure that we never really possessed what we lost at all, but that it was just ours to borrow. Grief is knowing we may never touch feel or hold that person, place or moment in time again in the same way. So, first world problem? Maybe. Am I safe? Yes. But, I am grieving now for all of the things I knew about my life and all the things I cannot anticipate about tomorrow.
No doubt about it, there is joy in the mundane, tired days we are living. These days in our home seem to be endless but also, fly by. This morning, Rob and I woke just in time to stream church with a blanket, a hot cup of coffee, hair and teeth unbrushed; talk about a “come as your are” church service. The kids who were awake (which wasn’t many) joined us for communion and worship from our couch. On a typical church day they would be in another room filled with their peers, distracted by feelings of self-consciousness that surround even the most confident adolescent. It was a joy to see them in relationship with God this morning in a place where they know they are most able to be themselves. Even the baby seemed captivated by the iPad screen when the preacher read the Word of God.
Most of our children stay up all hours of the night and sleep the days away like most teens and pre-teens. We have finally learned that no threat or consequence can actually control when they choose to sleep so we let go of that battle a long time ago. Truth is, this whole social distancing thing has only shone a light on the fact that’s always been there, we have such little control over anything even though our busyness, social experts, alarm clocks, and plans for tomorrow try to fool us to think otherwise.
This morning, Griffin, 11 years-old, asked if he could make pancakes for the family. This is his specialty, a lazy weekend morning tradition he and his dad have created. In the slowness of the hear and now, we don’t mind him making the pancakes or the mess. I stayed in the next room enjoying my third cup of coffee because over indulging in food and drinks is what I do best when quaratined. I soon hear, “uppy, uppy?”, one-year-old Cooper says to Griffin, curious to see his big brother at work making breakfast.
“You want to help big brother make pancakes?” Griffin asks in a sweet voice. Cooper whines.
Griffin puts Cooper in his high chair. “You want me to make you a baby pancake?”
“Dane coo”, Cooper says “thank you” when he wants something.
“First, you put in the batter, then you measure the milk…”
Cooper claps for Griffin, “Yaaaaaay!!”
My heart bursts with joy.
It is only because of the stillness of this morning that I wasn’t thinking about what needed to be done later today to keep our house moving forward. It was only because of that still moment that I was able to receive the gift of two of my boys interacting and loving one another.
It’s taken two weeks to remember that I am a human-being, not a human-doing. It’s tough though, if I am not doing, than who am I? What is my worth? If I don’t pour into this life, into productivity then I have to be open to life pouring into me.
There it is.
Maybe that’s what I’ve been grieving all along, the realization that I truly have nothing to offer this world when I do more. My value is in receiving gifts that I don’t deserve; grace, mercy, hope and love. No matter what I do, how much work I put into it all, how many accomplishments or appointments or accolades I receive, my worth is only in what I have been given, not in what I give. And it’s only now in this time of social silence that I am forced to face that very fact, I truly have no control. And while I have heard it and while I have seen it written a hundred times and in a dozen scriptures, quotes, sermons, I have never been forced to sit with the fact that I have nothing apart from who I am in Jesus.
Interesting isn’t it, that all of this is happening in a time when we are approaching Easter? Many people are practicing lent, giving up something for the days leading up to Easter. Many, like myself, didn’t intentionally give up anything for lent, yet we are going without so much that we have so heavily relied on. Sacrifice in the weeks leading up to the biggest sacrifice of all. There is nothing to do, nothing to see, nothing to accomplish right now. We wait, we receive the gifts that if we don’t deserve. All along, our worth isn’t more and it isn’t less, it is the same, but we are just aware now more than ever. Grief is where seeds are planted. One big tree is taken down and a new one is being nourished in it’s place. If you are still long enough you’ll see more grace and mercy growing right where your pain is rooted.
If you have ever experienced the loss of a loved one, you know, your world stops, but no one else’s does. But now, here, in this grief, it’s different because the world has stopped. In all this boredom, its mundane, it’s slow grey mid-western skies, there is light and hope. The good news is that we didn’t earn it, we didn’t create it and there is nothing we can do to stop it.
So maybe it hurts, maybe you’re grieving, but maybe this time of pain will open your heart for the gifts surrounding you.