Sunday, December 7, 2008

Bittersweet revisited... Advent of Joy #7

When I wrote my last post, I found myself in some deep emotional waters, and tried not to let that overtake my writing. It was difficult because I am so emotional about finishing up with Tricia. I finished writing my post, dated it to publish after 1am so that it would post on the 6th, and went to get ready for bed.

I got into the bathroom and just cried. I think it was finally helping me release some of the tension I had felt ever since I got home from my appointment. I guess I didn’t realize it would affect me so much. I am still struggling emotionally, but I know that God is with me in it all.

He continues to give me dreams and hopes for the future…
He reminded me today that the season I am in, is one of waiting.

Isn’t that interesting?
Advent is a season of waiting for the birth of our Lord.

I am in a season of waiting. I am to specifically take this time to draw nearer to God’s heart, fall deeper in love with Him, and patiently wait, even though there are things that I would love to do, places I would love to go, and “jump” headlong into ministry of some sort.
Yet I don’t feel that I have been given the “go ahead” by God. So I am waiting.

As I felt that “Wait” from the Lord, I pondered what I had written about having those bittersweet feelings.

How many other things in our lives are partings, losses, endings?

I am not talking about the death of someone we love. Though that is a big one. But what about moving to a new home (even if it is only 15 miles from the first one)? What about family left behind in a move, and the loss that they might feel with the increased physical distance between you? What about changing churches? What about a loss in health, or at least a severe struggle with health issues, and the loss involved in feeling good, and being able to do the things you want to? What about ending a relationship with someone? Or losing a friend? Or losing a pet? Or losing even the trust we had in someone close to us? Losing a pastor to another church or ministry? Even the loss involved in a church re-defining its vision?

How many of these things do we allow ourselves to grieve through? Aren’t they all losses of one sort or another. They are breaks in the things that have been important to us. Grieving is part of the process of healing from a loss. What we think are little things, insignificant, sometimes can be the things that steal our joy, and start bogging us down, because we haven’t dealt with them.

Allowing ourselves to cry, mourn the losses, and work through them emotionally (even if they don’t seem like a big deal) help us to rediscover our joy in the midst of the pain; strength in our weakness; peace in the storm; patience in the midst of the busy-ness; trust in the midst of insecurities.

I know of so many people through blogs, or in real life who are struggling with things like these. I don’t think that anyone could say that they are untouched by some sort of loss.
My friend Cindy told me that in all the times they have moved (many times out of state, Texas to Wisconsin and back and forth again) the longer moves were a bit easier because she was able to prepare herself before they happened. At least she was able to prepare herself that she was going to grieve losses. She said that at times it would take her nearly 2 years to work through it.

She and her husband recently made a move, basically across town, 20 minutes from their previous home. Around the same time, they switched from one church to the church I go to. Immediately they were “assimilated” into a small group, and people who supported them and grew to love them immensely.

She told me that she was completely unprepared for the grief she felt over moving and changing churches. She said that it has been just over a year and a half, and she still finds herself sad at losing the closeness of some of the friendships she had with people in the other church. She was so unprepared because she didn’t think it would be such a big thing since it wasn’t a long distance move. She also told me that because she and her husband were welcomed so warmly into our church family, it made the transition easier.

But I think she could agree that there was a bitter sweetness to the move. Grief in some loss of closer relationships, change of churches and community. Yet joy in being welcomed into a new church and making close friends.


For myself, I had a very close friend of mine move, in May, to Zambia for a year long mission. Gwen has been like a sister to me since our college days. When she moved 3 hours away to her parents home, I missed her, and though I could talk to her, and we still saw each other, I missed her then.

Since her move to Zambia, I have missed her greatly. It was a loss for me of the closeness in our relationship, not because our friendship ended, just related to the physical distance between us.

At the same time God blessed me with someone to come alongside me, who has become a sister to me. Cindy has walked alongside me this past year. So I experienced the grief of “losing” Gwen, but joy in gaining another sister.


Those are just a couple of examples. I could come up with many more.

In this time of waiting… this advent… I am waiting for God to show me what He wants me to do. I am learning more from Him about grief and loss, joy and hope. I am growing closer to Him. As I learn more from Him, as I learn more about myself, and learn through my experiences and healing… I think God is using it to make me more sensitive to others, and better able to relate to others’ hurts.

I have gotten a “wait” from God. I have gotten a “draw closer to me” from Him. I have been told “learn from your experiences, from others and from Me” by my Jesus. I have gotten a “listen for My voice” from His Spirit.

So I am waiting. I am experiencing an advent of sorts in my life… waiting for the time of the Lord’s birth of something new in my life.

In the meantime, though I grieve the loss of my immediate relationship with Tricia, I am waiting in hope for what God will do in the future with the passions He has been giving me. I have joy in knowing I am in His will as I wait (if not perfectly patiently) to see what He is going to teach me.

The bitter sweetness
of the
joy and pain,
hope and anxiety
of the waiting
…the being still and knowing He is God…

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