Most of my days are filled with joy. And I know that this sorrow is nothing like the loss of life, a loss for which I have no words of comfort.
Yet there are still moments where something catches me off guard, a baby’s smile or a little boy’s grin, that makes my heart melt into a puddle on the floor. I have to catch my breath, stop and stand in the middle of the grocery store aisle, breathe and believe.
Stephanie Bryant’s voice about preparing ourselves and embracing God’s yes reminded me that God gave me a yes for a time, and now He is asking me to wait again. I have tasted the homemade ice cream, but it hasn’t frozen yet. Here, in the midst of a summer so vibrant and hot, I still have to wait another season.
And I am so grateful for the sorrow. The grief of a lost experience.
Because the tears mean that my heart changed. And to me, the pain means wait once again. Without the grief, without the longing and desire to return to an experience, I would know the experience was over.
But it is not over. Not for me.
I am so thankful for the knowledge of a waiting heart. And I am so grateful the Lord’s voice is so clear, a resounding WAIT, I promise I will make even this beautiful in my time. In the midst of a breaking heart, I have other joy, a joy knowing that for now, I am here, just as I am reminded, “Wherever you are, be all there” (Jim Elliot).
So I will stay here. I will live in this moment, in this now. But I will not squelch this holy grief.
I know I am not grieving a perfect experience. I am not longing for heaven (Oh, that I would long for heaven in the same way). The experience was far from perfect.
But it was real.
And it was me.
It is like my heart was molded and shaped specifically for this, specifically for East Africa, for the warm, quiet culture of HIV and orphans and pain that is met daily with beautiful crystal white smiles of perfectly straight teeth. I was made not to spend 6 weeks there, but years there, never learning enough.
So I search God’s heart. I seek His face. I rejoice in the middle of I Samuel 1. And I rest in the knowledge of the Wait. The dichotomy of loving where I am, of being content and joyful in this experience, and yet longing for the next one.
Just as our hearts should be longing for heaven.
What is your lost experience? Why does your heart hurt and grieve? Sister, please do not squelch this grief. Lay it at the Father’s feet. He loves to hear His daughter’s heart. Whether He tells you to wait, or to heal, whether He answers yes or no, He wants to acknowledge your heart.
He wants to make your grief holy.
Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled…I was pouring out my soul to the LORD…” Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” ~I Samuel I:15, 17
~Mary HowellLeave a Comment
Jennifer Jones says
Thank you for sharing these beautiful words. God has had me in a holding pattern for a while, and I rejoice with you in the wait. God will bless our lives with the desires of our heart in His time, not ours.
This is beautiful. I just have never thought of grief as holy, but you are right, God takes everything and makes it good for those who love Him. Even grief. We know we are in a waiting pattern and His plans are always good.
Just really beautiful words.
Thank you. Praying God’s blessing on your ministry.
Shannon DeCourcey says
Thank you for posting this…your words have completely summed up the way I feel right now. I spent three weeks in Africa this winter and coming home was so difficult. Even now, three months later, the pain is still fresh. I constantly see things that remind me of Africa, things that remind me of my orphans, things that make me cry when I least expect it. I left a piece of my heart in Africa.
But the funny thing is, this sort of grief sometimes feels good. Sometimes I’ll lie awake at night, thinking of Africa, crying and laughing at the same time. Like you said–it means that my heart changed, and it means that my experience was real. It means that this isn’t over.
So thanks again for sharing your feelings; it’s good to know I’m not the only one who feels this way!
Beautiful. I have spent a lot of life trying to manage and squelch grief. In my own season of yielding to it, I am seeing so much of my Father’s heart. Thanks for this!
Living the Balanced Life says
Thank you for this post. I have had my share of grief, but in different ways. I am now waiting for what God has next. I can see and feel something on the horizon, but can’t quite tell what it is yet…
Are you stuck in a rut?
Bless you for your faithful response to God and the place He has you living in now, and to His timing. Africa does have a way of burrowing right into a person’s heart. Once you’ve been to Africa, you’ll never be the same.
P.S. Mary, do you have a blog?
Amy Hunt says
It hurts to wait. I think of this daily. I tell God and remind God that *this now* hurts, and I want so badly to not hurt in today. I want to envelope today and just receive it for its purpose for *tomorrow*. I truly believe God has told me I’ll have another child and that I need to wait. To have a vision for *tomorrow* and have to stay focused on today, makes me feel like an antsy little six-year-old who is smart enough to know what today and tomorrow is, but know it well enough that I just feel like I can’t wait. But today really does have purpose. And my anxiousness (grief) has purpose, too. And so I just lean in and trust. It’s all I can do. And I thank Him for the waiting because I know that it will be so beautiful when I wait…
sigh. oh africa. she stole my heart and i too am in a heart-wrenching, tear-stained, grieving waiting to go back when/if He says go.
praying for you during your wait and so thankful that He has spoken so very clearly to you during this season and that you are seeing the purpose in it!
Thank you for sharing your heart. I have joy and also deep holy grief too. My grief comes from a blended family. It’s deep and it hurts and I have to trust God with it daily in the midst of hurt feelings and no answers, stubborn attitudes, and a precious and innocent little boy. I never know if what I’m doing is right or if how I handle situations are correct, so I do the only thing I know is right, i lean on the Lord. And He is so good….
Teri @ StumblingAroundInTheLight says
Thank you for such a beautiful look at our imperfect, unique, holy grief.
Sometimes the longing does even feel for heaven, for relinquishing the grieving of this dying world.
Carol Swanson says
Thank you for your beautiful message. I too had never thought about grief as holy. I know that God is in control and that all things work for good for those who love Him. The past year and a half has been the hardest time of my life. The loss of my husband, Mother and Mother-in-law is almost unbearable – yet – God has carried me and blessed me beyond measure. Yes I grieve – but not without hope. I know that I will be with them again and that God is in control and has a purpose for me that I need to complete. Thank you for your encouragement and for reminding me once again that He does love me and does understand my sorrow and that He does care!