Well friends, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?
Seems to me that everyone has a blog these days and I think I’ve been too enraptured with the inner ramblings of my sweet friends these last few months to take the time to utter my own ramblings.
But I finally found some time and I think I’ve finally found the words, too. (There are a lot of them- I talk a lot- this isn’t a surprise, but I’m sorry anyway)
Can I tell you something? Just between you and me.
This has been a hard season.
Like I’ve started referring to this as the Semester of Sorrow, Time of Tears, Months of Mourning…the list goes on. It may seem melodramatic, but I don’t think you could possibly fathom the tears I’ve seen this semester, the sadness I’ve felt, the mourning I’ve witnessed, the heartbreak I’ve encountered. And this isn’t a blog about how sad the world is and please have pity on me and feel bad for me, blah, blah, blah. But that’s the first part of the story, so hear me out.
First, let me start by telling you a little about myself- it might help you make sense of why this season has been so hard for me. Let’s start with the fact that I like to keep busy. I’m a busy body. I feel better when I’m doing something, so I fill my schedule to the brim and sometimes I like to see just how much more I can add before I break down. It’s this fun little game I like to play, kind of like real life Jenga.
And in these last few months of reading and listening to the stories of my wonderful friends, I think I’ve realized that I do all these things- I fill my schedule to max capacity because if I’m always busy- because if I’m always distracted by the soul stories of those around me, I don’t have the time or energy to listen to the voice of my own soul.
So these last few weeks I’ve been trying to (painfully) be intentional about listening to what my soul is telling me. And as I strain to hear the quiet whispers of my battered soul, I can faintly hear it cry out just a small but distinct “ouch.”
(I’m giggling as I write that because I felt like I was building up to something kind of profound, maybe even revolutionary, but all I hear is “ouch.” Poetic, I know. Someone pass me a band-aid, Hello Kitty, please)
But allow me to continue.
I’m a busy body- but you should also know that I’m also a people-person. I feel like those go somewhat hand in hand. I love being around people. I’m a relationship-based person and I thrive off of a lot of deep and beautiful and messy relationships. And to make the trifecta complete, my spiritual gift is Mercy. So basically I spend every waking second (a lot of which should be alone-and-sleeping seconds) with people, over-feeling what they feel because God made my empathizer machine a little too big.
So I’m an over-booked, deep feeling, extrovert- you follow? Now to further elaborate lets just put it out there that this semester has been punctuated by six of my friends having friends of their own pass away- all separate events, 3 of whom I knew. It’s been seasoned with friends who have been hurt in the worst imaginable way possible by other people emotionally and physically. It’s been marked with a break up. It’s been accentuated with friends going through HUGE life changes that are hard. It’s been marred by painful mistakes and riddled with moments of holding each other in the early hours of the morning, looking at each other through tears.
It’s been a hard season, friends. I’m not talking about like the last 5 years, or 6 months. I’m talking since August. That’s barely 3 months.
And my soul cries out. Ouch.
That’s the first part of the story. On to the second part.
Let’s talk about college for a second. College is like a trial run for adulthood. We’re just a bunch of kids pretending that we know what we’re doing, trying not to drown in a sea of procrastination, papers, exams, jobs, bills, food, relationships, drinks, friends, internships, and the biggest decisions of your life. Seriously, I wake up and go to work and class and do my homework and work out and spend time with my friends and try to call my mom (love you, Mommy, you da real MVP), and pay my bills, and try to cook food that doesn’t involve the microwave, and go to church, and do my quiet time, and still somehow keep my sanity. And on the outside I’m like “Yeah, guys, I’ve got this. I have direction, I know what I’m doing.” But on the inside I’m like “…..I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING……(halp. SOS. Send real food. And money.)”
^ College, am I right?
Anyway, but let’s talk about college for a second, just one more time. College is like the coolest place on earth. I have the strongest, most insanely wonderful support system I’ve ever had. I am literally surrounded with people who love me more than I ever thought I could be loved. And while we’re all treading water in that sea of chaos (see above paragraph), there hasn’t been a single moment in this Semester of Sorrow where one of us was hurting and the rest of us didn’t drop everything to come alongside them.
Here is a tacky collage featuring just some of my incredible support:
And that, my sweet and wonderful friends, is grace in action.
I have seen the grace of God in the faces of my friends in these Months of Mourning.
And yeah, my soul is still crying out. It still hurts. Band-aids don’t fix bullet holes, can I get an “Amen?” (SO to TSwizz)
But I’ve learned so much in these months. By far, though, the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that this is a broken world.
You don’t have to go through a Time of Tears to learn that. For heaven’s sake, just turn on the news.
This is a broken world.
Bad things happen to good people. I actually hate that phrase because what does it even mean to be “good” and why does that matter? Bad things happen to people. Day in and day out. People are massacred. Hostages are taken. Hateful things are said between enemies. Hateful things are said between friends. People die. People get hurt. The list goes on. And my soul cries out. Ouch.
But the Lord is in the midst of us. He draws near to the brokenhearted. He binds up their wounds. God is among us.
And I don’t have silly things to say about how time will heal, or just pray harder and it won’t hurt, or go to church and bad things will stop happening. None of that is true and I’ve found that it’s words like that that hurt people more. We have to stop telling people how to feel or when it gets better. Just let them be hurt and let God work in His own time. All you need to do is love them through their Time of Tears.
But what I want to say from all of this- what I’ve learned through all of this (took the long way to get there, I know), is three things:
- Remember that this life is temporary. We are but dust, and to dust we shall return. All this pain we feel now, all this torment and mourning and “ouch” will go away. Revelation 21:4 says “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Better times are coming, friends. And maybe you won’t feel better. Maybe we are marked forever in this life by the scars of our sufferings. But one day, this will all fade away and we will be restored to wholeness in a kingdom that in and of itself defines joy and love.
2. God’s grace can be seen in the faces of those around us. This is a two way street, folks. You can see an extension of God’s grace in the people around you, but you can also be an extension of God’s grace. Jesus calls us to love God and to love each other, Peter calls us to love each other deeply. Paul calls us to live in peace with one another. So, like, lets just do that, ok?
My Months of Mourning have been filled with tears and sadness and sorrow and all those things that make you cry out, “ouch.”But they’ve also been filled with person after person extending a helping hand to another, pulling them up, and dusting them off. It’s been marked by late night conversations and great big hugs and drop-every-thing- now (meet me in the pouring rain–shh TSwiz, not right now) moments. It’s been filled with deep belly laughs in the middle of good hard cries because sometimes you have to laugh about crying in the baked goods aisle of the grocery store at closing time. It’s been filled with people being the hands and feet of Christ- being an extension of His grace and love. And yeah, those are all limited to my tiny little world in my peaceful little corner of Eau Claire, WI. But imagine what a world this would be if we all could be extensions of God’s grace.
3. Comfort is found in the arms of my maker. God is here, you guys. (That’s kind of like an advent theme- Emmanuel- I don’t want to ruin the surprise for you, but JESUS’ BIRTHDAY IS COMING UP- God with us…but I digress…)
I look up at the end of every day (sometimes before the end- like at dinner time, or maybe after my second class, or sometimes after breakfast…or really sometimes when I open my eyes first thing in the morning) and cry out “ouch.” And when I take the time to realize it, my heavenly Papa bends down, scoops me up and holds me in His embrace. I’m his baby girl. He doesn’t want to see me in pain. Just like He doesn’t want to see you in pain. And He’s not going to wipe sadness from your life because we are made to feel sadness, we are made to feel sorrow, we are made to mourn. But He’s going to bend down and scoop you up and hold you tight if you let Him. And sometimes God holding you tight looks like reading the Bible or singing a worship song, or praying. And sometimes God holding you tight looks like your best friend holding your sobbing body on the porch at 2am. And sometimes God holding you tight looks like watching the sunrise on a cool morning run. And sometimes God holding you tight is laughing until your stomach hurts. And sometimes God holding you tight is crawling into bed at the end of the day, tears streaming down your face, knowing that even though it was hard, you made it through another day. God holds us tight when we let him. He draws near to the broken hearted. He binds up their wounds.
So I guess all of my inner ramblings just want to tell you that if you’re experiencing “ouch,” you’re not alone. I joke about being in an “ouch” season and I use humor to deflect actual “feelings” (wut even r they) but being in an “ouch” season is real. And it’s hard. And it eats away at you because day in and day out you actually have to sit down and actively try to remind yourself that there is good in the world. “Ouch” seasons suck. And if you’re there, you’re not alone. I’m there, too, friend. I’m not “okay.” I’m not going to be skipping in a field of daisies telling you that life gets better and you feel happy all the time again. But I finally stopped and listened to the cries of my soul.
I finally stopped and realized that I couldn’t be an over-booked, deep feeling extrovert alone and make it out alive. I need God to come alongside me and take these burdens from me. And boy has He. These last few weeks I’ve relied on Him more than I ever thought possible. It’s not easy, and I slip up a lot. I want to be in charge and I want to do it all by myself. I’m not good at giving things up to anyone, even our Maker. But I’m trying. And I’m doing better. My soul is on the road to recovery.
Everyday is a battle for this deep feeling heart of mine in this broken world. But when I look around and see the beautiful people I have and spend time with the great and able God I have, I know that I can keep going.
You have to listen to the whispers of your soul.
What is your soul crying out?