As I journey through another holiday season, I’m starting to recognize things inside me for what they are. My first Thanksgiving without Titus made me feel like a foreigner. During days of celebration and time together with family, I would find myself drawing inward. This was not ever typical for me around family, but that year I was holding one less child in my arms and I never imagined I would be using subtraction when counting my little family.
This year I recognize it again. I draw inward and, I don’t know, I go quiet. I sit still. I am in the room, but not mentally present. I look like I’m just observing everyone but my mind has gone back a few years and is thinking. And I’m so absorbed in my thinking that I can’t hear when someone is talking to me in the present. I don’t hear the jokes. I don’t see the interactions and smiles and my husband usually winds up tapping my leg and asking if I’m okay.
“I’m fine,” I always respond. Because I am. I think so anyway.
This little inward reflection and absence in the present feels normal now and I think it’s quite typical for one who has lost. Just a few weeks ago at our family Thanksgiving celebration, I sunk into it periodically throughout our visit. Friday afternoon we set up a train and I had to excuse myself to go get dressed. I really did need to get dressed (yes I was still in pj’s in the afternoon), but I also needed to just drape myself across the bed and have a good cry. Because my 8-year-old son should be down there in the living room helping Grandpa set up the train so his younger cousins and brother can play with it. He should be getting an ornament with his latest favorite thing on it. He should’ve had the Santa hat on while we did an early Christmas, handing out gifts because that was his favorite. He should’ve, he should’ve, he should’ve.
What am I supposed to do with these “should’ves”?
Patience. Patience and pain. That is what I experience right now. Or, as one of my sweet friends eloquently puts it, living between grace and glory. Still living in these broken places, but with the promised guarantee of victory over all things broken and a love to hold us all the way through.
As I live greatly impacted in this shadow-land of brokenness, I catch glimpses of this Glory-Light. It’s a stark contrast, that Light and this shadow-land. There is something about it that is weaving through the darkness and making beautiful Light patterns. As the Light circles around and hits me, I realize it isn’t just Light. It has power behind it. And something else. When it strikes through me or when I reach out to touch it, it nourishes me. Not in the way food does, but in my soul. My broken soul.
Love. I think that’s Great Love. It feels like a superpower, because somehow this deep, dark abyss I experience, this broken shadow-land, is turned on it’s head and I see life springing out, I feel deep gratitude and redemption- and an overwhelming confirmation that all that is not okay will be gloriously okay.
Patience. Patience and pain. And superpower Light. I follow the Light and believe the Light because somehow He knows exactly what I need and so far, nothing else and no one else in this world – myself included – have quite figured that out, despite many attempts. But He does know what I need and I can feel it because I take that next step I didn’t know how to take on my own. I breathe that next breath I wasn’t sure would come because grief might’ve swallowed it up. I see that smile on my son’s face and have the courage to smile back and allow myself to live. I notice the slight breeze across my heart that is an awakening of the Spirit of Love in me that is fleshed out for my once-blind eyes to see and I know… I know I am not alone. I know this world is full of should’ves. But those should’ves haven’t passed us by. They are in fact “not yets”. I don’t count on my should’ves being fulfilled exactly as I expect or imagine them to be because my mind is far limited and my Jesus’s victory will bring more than I could ever know.
Redemption I was unaware of.
Victory over battles I didn’t have the comprehension to fight.
I see all through history, a big story-line of Great Love weaving redemption and grace throughout all our little broken story-lines and should’ves as the most epic rescue and love story of all time still to this day is unfolding. To be awakened to such a thing in this shadow-land is the greatest gift that could be given to my should’ves.
Merry Christmas, my friends.
Thanks for listening,