(“idk”, a drawing I made on May 11th, 2016)
I hugged her as if she was me from a year ago.
A year ago, I was crying on the eve of my 16th birthday. A year ago, I’d not only left a place I called home, but I had to let go of a story that wasn’t healthy for my heart, and I’d loved anyway. A year ago, I couldn’t write or draw without fear, and I’m still moving out of that.
A year ago, I was another me–an in-between me. And now I’m just a different in-between me.
So as we hid in the bathroom, my friend breaking down over a move coming up and her best friend and I trying to help her see through saltwater eyes, I rejoiced and my heart broke all at once.
Her sobs and heartache killed me, hitting me in every part of my heart where scars were. Yet I was so, so thankful for my own grief that God Himself allowed, because He whispered to me right there, “This is why.”
Her best friend especially tried to make her laugh; it was wonderful as she taught her to rejoice in the day God had made then and there–to savor time He’d allowed with the people then and there. And at the same time, as the poor bean cried and was frustrated with crying and thinking about things so much, I told her the same my Mom and God told me:
“You are a human being, you are grieving, and you are perfectly justified to cry right now.”
So she cried. And then we all laughed. And mixed in it all, we loved so deeply.
Another friend or two faces a move or change too, but some are more private or not as emotional about it now, or numb. Sometimes, I just can’t pick their brain so much on it. So I tell them I’m there and pray they’re letting themselves cry, even if they don’t/won’t talk about it.
(“In-between”, a drawing started Dec.-Jan. 2016 and finished Jan. 2017)
I’m not saying to forever wallow, to never leave your grief, or that you should always feel horrible in the midst of change.
I’m saying to discover your roots like a plant uprooted and replanted by the Gardener in new soil. Discover the nutrients of the new dirt, as dry as it feels, and cry out for the Gardener’s water can to strengthen you so you might shade someone and scatter seeds. Yes, bask in the sun, but know that it can dry you out after too long. Yes, soak up the water and rain, but remember too much can drown this plant. As you enter new soil, you will discover roots you never knew were there and parasites seeking to kill the plant. Learn what weeds the Gardener needs to pull and remember: even though you can’t see all the roots under the dirt, they’re there. Find the strong roots you didn’t realize had grown so much and rejoice at them, thanking the Gardener for the nutrients of the last soil you’d lived in.
Cry. Cry to the Gardener and recognize He will 100% get his hands dirty for your good and for everyone else’s good. But especially so He will show others they can trust His green thumb.
Laugh. Laugh at how silly it is to think the world is all about you, when all along, it’s been and is a lesson and a bonding time with our Daddy in Heaven. Laugh at the fear of the future, and how ridiculous it can be to think Dad doesn’t have a plan, when He made you. And galaxies, and sound, and puppies, and mitochondria.
Most importantly, love. Love in it all. Love God and love others as an outpouring of the love He’s poured into you.
I grieved and feared in another phase of my life, after moving. Now, I still fear much in a new phase of this part of my life–it’s a happy one, but daunting nonetheless. The counsel I received was this:
Don’t hone in on the product, but rather the process. Walk in the grace of Jesus, and recognize you’ll screw up and things could go bad, but every step of the way, know that God is there and will not leave you. Discipline, yes. But leave you? No. What’s the worst that could happen?
I said ending up alone.
You won’t be alone. Even then, God is there.
That’s where the glory is. In the messy and the imperfect, and thank God He let me cry and suffer because now my friends are hurting, unsure, or seeing newness and exciting possibilities ahead, and so am I.
But that’s fellowship. Crying in a bathroom, talking about feeling numb and sad, rejoicing at the new things and the hope.
Just sit in some grass in the spring weather for a while, and pick a clover, a flower, anything. Listen to birds. Heck, even swat bugs. Just look at all that life that came from winter God allows.
The smell of flowers this May preaches to my soul; it preaches that God will use our pain and cold and sludge to share the Gospel and pull us closer to Him.
Even the snow is beautiful. White, cool, refreshing, and almost mysterious. How could the world look so different?
We ought to be the same.
Learn in the pain, learn in the joyful, and in all things lean on Jesus. Because even in the happy, I’m terrified it’ll be gone tomorrow, or vanish before it begins. That’s the beauty of “I can’t do this.” It means that you have to lay down your crown at Jesus’ feet and ask Him to do it and just follow in total faith.
Christian relationship is this: We, broken people, kneel at the throne of God and we keep nudging and pushing each other closer to Him and His love until the day Jesus comes back. We celebrate together, present with Him.
(“Trials and Revelations”, a drawing started and finished May 2017)
(Thanks to Allen Arnold for his beautiful book, The Story of With that inspired and encouraged me. Thanks also to my mum, a certain dork, and my friend Kara, for teaching me grief is normal and so is joy. God has spoken through each of you into my life.
Also thanks to a certain bean and anyone else having a hard, happy, or in-between time. Both cause a weird, nervous feeling in your tum at times, but keep learning, know you’re loved, and that God’s got dis.)
Here’s some extra encouragement:
- Isaiah 55:6-13 (or just the whole darn chapter really. Or the entire book of James, and Ephesians. Just read the Bible, doods. Even if you can’t find that one verse, it’s so motivating and comforting know He’s with you.)
- “Rejoice and Lament” by Josh Garrels
- “The Artist” by Sarah Sparks
(Her link might not work for those outside the US, but here are the lyrics. These alone are AMAZING.)
- My YouTube playlist, Kintsugi (another reference to Allen’s rad book). The name refers to the Japanese art of gluing broken pottery back together using gold, making it even more valuable and beautiful than before.
Much love and hugs to you, frens.