This is a long post, but stick with it!
Tonight I just read the sweetest, tenderest story. It was a letter from an adoptive dad to his son. The letter was the story of the little boy's adoption. What I didn't know before I started reading it was -- there was basically a failed adoption situation, but in the end, the little boy comes home to his adoptive family. It was so beautiful. You can find the story on one of the very coolest adoption blogs you'll find. It's right here if you want to check it out. The point of me bringing it up is that it kind of killed me. I don't hope for that. I can't bear to think about it. The hope of that is too poisonous to the rest of my life. But for one tiny little second I thought about it just now. What it would be like. Because you know, I would really do anything in the world if I could make that happen. (If you wish that for me will you please not tell me? I can't really go there on a normal basis. Thanks.)
I wouldn't have brought any of this up except that I read something earlier that has really touched me and made my grief seem more bearable. I wanted to share it with you because a) it's awesome b) it feels important to me, and c) you might be going through something awful too. Maybe it would resonate with you like it did with me.
"The experience of the loss itself does not have to be the defining moment of our lives. Instead, the defining moment can be our response to the loss." Yes! This is what I have been thinking and hoping would prove true for me.
and then this next quote
"Tragedy can increase the soul's capacity for darkness and light, for pleasure as well as for pain, for hope as well as for dejection. The soul contains a capacity to know and love God, to become virtuous, to learn truth, and to live by moral conviction. The soul is elastic, like a balloon. It can grow larger through suffering. Loss can enlarge its capacity for anger, depression, despair, and anguish, all natural and legitimate emotions whenever we experience loss. Once enlarged, the soul is also capable of experiencing greater joy, strength, peace, and love. What we consider opposites -- east and west, night and light, sorrow and joy, weakness and strength, anger and love, despair and hope, death and life -- are no more mutually exclusive than winter and sunlight. The soul has the capacity to experience these opposites, even at the same time."
-- Jerry Sittser, A Grace Disguised, How the Soul Grows Through Loss
(or as I like to call it, Read This Book if You're Both Sad and Smart)
COME ON, PEOPLE! Isn't that so fantastic?! This is what I hope becomes of me. That my soul stretches like a balloon and becomes something joyful and peaceful in addition to raw, tender, and bruised. I can live with the gunk if I get some of that lovely stuff too.
(This part might read like a tangent, but hang in there; it'll come out on the other side.) My big deal is "and." It stems from one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands. It's called (aptly) And by Waterdeep. I will crudely sum it up by saying they call Jesus "And." So instead of hanging crosses in my house I hang ampersands. To me, they are a beautiful representation of who He is. Also, all of the best things in my life are connected to me by that beautiful word: Matt and Molly, the two of us and our girl(s). My sisters and I are Molly, Ashley, and Corinn. You get it. When my brilliant psychologist sister was in school she was talking about the situation of things going mostly well for a person but them always being fixated on the problems in their life, whether they be big issues or not. The professor she was talking to told her that these people can reframe the problem into an "and" instead of a "but." For example, "I'm doing pretty well, but I haven't been sleeping well." Well, you don't have to negate the whole lot of good you have in your life. Instead, that person could say, "Things are going well. And, I am having a hard time sleeping." Okay, that was a stupid example but I'm tired and want to finish this business up! The point is, you can have both. The thing that is the problem doesn't have to trump or undermine all of the good in your life. SO!!! The concept of and is all around, a huge one in my life.
When I read the above quote I thought, "AHA!!!" It's the and in my heart. The and in my soul. I can be miserable and joyful all at the same time. It's the Holy Spirit. It's me surviving. It's AND. When I started this post I was crying and worn out, but just writing this all out and re-reading that quote has helped me so much. I really do feel so much lighter. In fact, I am doing a little shimmy. I can cry AND I can shimmy! And that's today's good news.