When sorrow visits, it doesn’t ever practice the art of social graces. It never takes the time to knock first. No, it just suddenly is there. No asking. No politesse. No sympathy. In fact, the heaviest of sorrows just billows in, as an uninvited guest.
It’s important that it not become a thief in the night; but rather, I have to understand that even though I may feel like I’m drowning for a few moments, it’s part of the process of healing. And the morning always dawns.
I was hit hard last night.
My Mode of Operation has been to stay busy. As long as there is a project to finish, a house to restore, a puppy to mend, two children to attend to, a ministry to serve, or a school year to steer, I’ve gotten quite adept now at moving forward and living through. I have begun to avoid the deep welling of tears, in order to give everyone around me a respite from having to offer compassion or show empathy. Enough time has passed that for many, it’s just awkward if I start to slip – even slightly reveal – that I might yield to the internal rushing waters that no one sees. Or maybe they do, but in my efforts to “conceal don’t feel” of late, I should have known it would catch up with me. It always does.
I was having a restless night of sleep, and finally sometime between four and five, I began to sleep without interruption.
Then sorrow snuck in through a beautiful, yet terrible dream:
The sun was radiant. The colors — ALL of the colors were most vibrant! I was gathered at a swimming pool, surrounded by people and sunlight. As I looked on, I was reveling in the beauty and joy of what I was watching. On the other side of the pool, my father was walking with his confident gate, talking with someone and belly laughing with his bright, gigantic smile. His profile was art. And I was lost in the roar of his laughter.
My mother was there too. This woman whom I have NEVER witnessed swim [she was deathly fearful of water ever since her earliest childhood] was IN THE WATER! She was smiling so brightly, and with abandon to the play, she… was… swimming… with my children. I was lost in this sheer playful moment. And she was healthy, strong, and flooded in life!
To my left, I saw Michael. He was walking around with others, smiling and talking. Health and passion were all over his countenance. And that smile. He just beamed as I could see him fully standing in his calling. I was lost in the sense of love and pride that I was feeling.
Suddenly, I heard myself saying words:
“We are so blessed! We are so very blessed! I am so thankful that we have so much to be thankful for…”
Then I interrupted myself and started to think the loud thoughts of sorrow, “We were so blessed. We … were. And then everything changed. It all changed. Everything changed.”
SUDDENLY, my physical heart was pressed under what felt like a lead blanket. I IMMEDIATELY jolted awake, for it truly felt like so much physical pressure, I thought my heart just might break into a million, fragmented, broken bits.
It was 7:11a.m.
I sat up. And even though I knew exactly where I was, I was lost.
Lost under the weight of sorrow.
So, what did I do?
I am so thankful for tears. The art of released emotion began to rescue me. Tears filled me like air in a life-vest. And I didn’t drown. Sadness, mixed with anger and questions and wishes and blessings… began to flow out of my brokenness in a way it hasn’t escaped in a while. Perhaps not even yet.
So… here I am — one year, nine months, and fourteen days into this passage of grieving… and the weight was heavier last night than it has yet been.
Sorrow found its way in, while it also found its way a little more out.
I think when King David spoke of sorrow visiting in the night, he was not blanketing this sense that you can only receive visits from sorrow before you put your trust in the Lord [“Adonai” – he says a word in his crying out in Psalm 30 that means Lord, Master, Father]. No. I think that WHILE he trusted God, and WHILE he faced the unrelenting-at-times turbulence of this life, he knew that Sorrow will visit when it must, but that morning will dawn, and that all of the new mercies are secure in spite of – and even amidst – the wresting through. Therefore, we will get through.
I also believe that nights and mornings in that passage can literally mean, “during the time when I wish I were sleeping but sorrow and unrest have shown up and have a hold of me,” and “the start of a new day with the sun rising just outside my bedroom window.” Trust me when I say, nights can be rough. It’s the time when the mind will wander and race. It’s important to keep myself filled with nighttime resources that will calm and still my soul when it is restless, unyielding, or just plain sad.
This life is hard, ya’ll. You have a different “hard” that you are wrestling, but it can show up in the oddest times and places, and you can feel lost in it.
The rest of my day has been spent being busy, yes. BUT! I have been intentional to feel, and to remember the blessings — the blessings then and the blessings now. Gratitude and Joy make excellent partners in the art of Restoration. Resiliency. Healing.
And when I am lost in Gratitude, I find that I am found.
Remember, joy comes with the morning, and hope rises with the dawn.
Be encouraged in your season of sorrow.
For Sorrow wouldn’t be present without… Love.