Sunday, June 17

Loss and Hope

I could still smell the puppy on my hands as I got the phone call.  The phone call that said Dad's cancer lit up the scans, again.    I had just left the breeder's house with hearts in my eyes.  Suddenly, I had hope, joy, sorrow and loss, all at the same time. The previous week his pain seemed to lift, and I had been hopeful that a good season was coming.  The clouds began to roll across the sky as I drove home.  It began to rain.  It was as if God was shedding some tears with me.

As I removed myself from social media 6 months ago, I began to notice anger rising more and more to the surface.  Either anger or anxiety marked most of my interactions throughout the day.  I realized as I no longer checked out from stress constantly, I was allowing myself to feel emotions that had been there since the previous summer, but I hadn't begun to process.  Turning to the outside world- to a newsreel, to an article, a funny video, or just mindlessly scrolling gave me relief, release, and it felt so normal.  I needed to simply feel, and I thought I was, but I didn't realize how much I was stuffing grief.

I came across a definition of grief that included the phrase "feeling loss of an ideal." I knew anger was a part of grief, but I didn't think my anger was grief.  I mean, my dad is still alive.  But feeling loss, just loss of time together really, explained how grief doesn't start when a loved one passes away.   Grief begins when you know something will never be the same.  Grief over my grandmother's death is hidden in there too, a feeling of death as an undoing of life as we know it.

Another ideal that I lost at this time was a career in teaching.  I quit last year and I don't regret that.  But it's another loss of an ideal.  I thought teaching would be IT for me.  The thing that I would do for my adult life.  But it's not going be- I no longer want it to be.  But what now? This season has been one where I have begun to dream and let myself feel grief over this loss of my ideal job for the last 15 years.

Jesus has come for my heart in so many ways to bring hope. Hope has come in the way of remembering one of the truest parts of our objective reality that we often forget in our subjective experiences: the renewal of all things.

Matthew 19: 28-30
Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

Revelation 21:1-8
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.

All things will be made new.  This is the hope that has come for my heart. Now. Not when I die. Now.  I don't need a bucket list. I will have opportunity and time unending for all these things that feel like such loss now.  Time lost.  Opportunity lost. Physical loss. Emotional loss. Can you feel it? All the feelings of "never again" transform to "not yet." Can you see what a paradigm shift this is for today? The hope of heaven speaks volumes to life on earth, now.  As John Eldredge writes, "Nothing is lost.  If you will just let go of your anger and cynicism for a moment, just allow it to be true for a moment, well then- your heart is going to take a pretty deep breath."

 If you begin looking for restoration, you see the promise of it everywhere.  If we remember that Jesus said he will make all things new- a new Heaven, a new Earth, and that we inherit all these things- we will be gifted with more hope than we could have ever imagined.  The hope of heaven, for me, is not, "Oh, one day I'll go to heaven and then there won't be any pain." The hope of Heaven is more like, "We can't explore southern Utah this summer with Dad? That's ok, when all things are made new, we will have many adventures together." What are you going to do in this Kingdom? Where will you explore and visit that you've always dreamt?  It's such a relief to me to get to be a part of the Kingdom of God.  Why would you ever not want to be a part of this?

1 comment:

Greg and Kristen said...

I loved reading this so much. Thank you so much for sharing. Jesus Christ truly is hope and joy. I am so thankful for the opportunity we had to meet you through your teaching job. You continue to bless so many lives. ❤