Everybody hurts…sometimes

I have been hesitant to share any blog posts lately. I wasn’t sure exactly why I was feeling that way until today, but now I realize it’s because I’m sad. I am sad, but I don’t feel like I have a right to feel sadness. And that makes me feel even worse.

I can’t pinpoint exactly one thing that’s bringing me down. It’s a lot of things, one of which is that we are moving and leaving behind the only home my children have ever known. What is so confusing, though, is that this move is a good thing. It’s a blessing, one that we hoped and prayed for. The new house is going to be a wonderful place for our children to grow up, and that is what is most important to me. It doesn’t, however, eliminate the sadness I feel when I think about never again seeing my kids run around this backyard. Everett took his first steps in this house, the exact same place where his sister did the same four years earlier. We skinned knees here and bandaged those boo-boos here, too. We played princesses and pirates and mermaids and mommy. We cleaned crayon off the walls. We’ve had temper tantrums and tickle fights on these floors, the same wood floors that Michael laid with his own two hands. His fingerprints are in every corner of this house because he’s worked to make it a wonderful place for us to live. We’ll never again kick the soccer ball over the fence and laugh while Michael sneaks over into the neighbor’s yard to retrieve it. We’ll leave our beloved swing set here for another family to pretend they are flying high into the sky. Someone else will be sitting on this front step, waiting for Daddy to get home from work. And no matter what the promise of the future is, today I am sad to leave these things behind.

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I’ve been hesitant to share this sadness, though, because sometimes it feels like it’s not okay, especially for people who call themselves Christians, to be sad. I fully realize and appreciate the blessings I have. Michael and I came into this home as a family of two, and we are leaving as a family of four. There is no greater blessing than that, and there are no words for me to express how full of love my heart is. But our hearts are complex, and there can be love and joy and also sadness. When I wrote of the emptiness I felt about not having a mother, someone told me that if you know God you would never be sad, and if you’re married your husband should fill all of those empty places for you. That, my friends, is a lie.

Sometimes our sadness makes others uncomfortable because if they were to enter into the hard places with us, they might have to acknowledge the hard places in themselves, too. And some people work their whole lives to cover up those difficult places because they can’t or won’t look the monster in the face. Some cover these wounded places in their heart with the things they can control because they feel so out of control. Some cover them with pretty things, making their outside look so good that we hopefully will overlook their inside. Some cover them with spiritual platitudes that lull them into a false sense of superiority and well-being. But for me, life is too short to pretend. I desire truth with my whole heart, and sometimes living in truth means admitting to yourself and others that today you are sad, that today is hard.

So if today is hard for you, my friend, you aren’t alone. I am sure that your hard looks different than mine. Your sad might be sadder than mine and that’s okay, too. It’s not a competition or a comparison of shoulds and shouldn’ts- you haven’t walked in my shoes, and I haven’t walked in yours. We find common ground, though, in knowing that we all experience sadness and hardship in this life. It’s the one thing other than death that we can count on for sure.

I’m reminded of one of my kids’ favorite books, “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.” We read this book in a sing-song rhythm and it reminds me that sometimes the greatest wisdom comes in the simplest form. It goes like this:

 

We’re going on a bear hunt,

We’re gonna catch a big one,

What a beautiful day,

We’re not scared.

Oh oh!
 Grass,
Long, wavy, grass.

We can’t go over it,
 We can’t go under it,

We’ve gotta go throught it!

We can’t go over it,
 We can’t go under it,

We’ve gotta go throught it!

The book repeats this pattern of encountering obstacles along this bear-hunting journey and reminds us that even though we’re scared, we can’t avoid the scary places. We can’t go over them. We can’t go under them. We have to go through them. And sometimes the truth of where we find ourselves in our own journey is that we are sad. We just have to go through the sadness. Even when the grass threatens to cover your head and obscure your view and you feel afraid that you may get lost in it, you have to go through it. It’s the only way out. Pretending and avoiding it doesn’t get us anywhere.

What gives me hope even in sadness, though, is the promise of tomorrow. The night never lasts forever; tomorrow always comes. And somehow living in the light of a new day brings hope. Sadness always gives way to joy.

We’re going to be okay. We are going to go through the hard things, and we are going to come out on the other side. Even if we’re hunting bears.

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