How to Grieve a Good Thing Gone

Anna got married to Ben last week in a chapel where people were sharing seats to make room and the homemade wreaths hung on the doors and Kiersten and I handed out programs with smiles on our faces even though our extremities were frozen from the abnormally chilly May wind.

The Brick House was reunited, but everything was different this time. Kiersten is in grad school and taking summer classes and Kayleigh is in Colorado, doing what she does best– adventure and hospitality. Audrey is also in Colorado, but doing the hard work of teaching young minds to care about words and each other and not running in front of cars during a field trip. I sat in the tent in a much different place than I expected, confident in my job and community and with a man who loves me and whom I love deeply and who filled in for the ushers even though he didn’t know the bride or groom and who took care of me when I felt my worst that day. And Anna, beautiful Anna, is married to her person– to gentle, kind, loving Ben. She filled each space with calm and grace and poise and beauty because it was so evident she had found rest in where the Lord brought her this year and it ended with this celebration.

For one of the first times this year, it hit me that we’re never going to get the Brick House life back. I knew that last year- in the months and weeks leading up to graduation and as I sat in the Von Maur parking lot ugly crying the day after because that beautiful, restorative, safe year was over. And so was the season of living with the most incredible women I ever had the privilege of doing life with. Gone was my safe bubble of dancing to Beyonce while doing dishes and singing the Doxology as a prayer before dinner. Gone was walking out of my room to a living room full of women graciously willing to let me externally process the hardest year of my life-who let me lay my head on their laps as I cried in frustration and sadness while I unraveled the past two years and waited as God created a new thing in me. Gone was doing life with my people, all under one roof in a safe place.

That year was sacred because the Lord was so evidently there. We all knew it. We felt Him in the quiet moments following a prayer or a Scripture reading at dinner. We felt Him when we gathered with each other for movie nights and house breakfasts and lunches and dinners and porch times. We felt Him when we ran and biked and then sat on the dock one last time, knowing that the sacred year, our year of safety and rest and restoration, was over.

I think it’s natural for humans to want to hold on to these sacred moments. I remember struggling knowing there was a defined end to this good thing- how were we ever going to find anything like it again? How do we cope with a looming new season of hard and danger and lonely and inexperience?

How do we grieve a good thing gone? A thing that always had an end date?

As I sat in church last Sunday, in my exhaustion, I worshipped Jesus in my new place that the Lord so abundantly provided. It was one of those rare moments where I felt completely raw, without the strength to bury the things that hurt, like the reality that although I was with my best friends last night, it just wasn’t the same because we’ve all changed in the past year and because we aren’t all sharing the same space anymore. We’ve moved on to where the Lord needed us to go.

I stood next to Matt and looked around at my new community and up at him and felt a small twinge of guilt- guilt for enjoying this new thing that is so different than my Brick House community last year. But even more so I felt sad because my best friends, the ones who walked me through some of the hardest, ugliest moments, weren’t here to share with me in this good new thing and I wasn’t there to share with them in their new things like we had done so well in the Brick House.

As I sang the words on the screen on the verge of tears, I realized that we grieve a good thing gone by believing and knowing and trusting that Jesus is always better than even the best season. That the sacred moments are just glimpses of His glory, pockets of heaven that He allows us to experience now, moments that hold eternal weight and hope because we’re promised a forever of these heavenly moments when we leave our last season here on this Earth.

Even when the season ends, even when that good thing is gone, our Father promises us an eternity of good things. What a beautiful hope to cling on to.

So, my dear Brick House friends, I feel so honored to have lived life with you and experienced glimpses of heaven with you, and even though we won’t ever share that Brick House on First street again, I’m excited to share in new moments with you in new spaces when life allows. I think it’s taken me this past year to process through our safe haven year, and I don’t entirely think I’m done yet, but thank you for that year. Thank you for exemplifying Christ’s love and servant-heartedness and helping create one of the safest places I’ve ever known. Thank you for sharing your beautiful lives and hearts with me, and thank you for becoming my forever friends. I miss you deeply and love you even more and am rooting for you as you flourish in your new pockets of the world.

 

Bolivia and Blocked Views

This last semester was one of those whirlwind seasons. I spent most of it rushing to soak everything in, all the conversations and meetings and readings and runs. I felt like I was floating, coasting through all the late night “Friends” marathons and donut runs, job applications and interviews and late night writing sessions, somehow finding the strength to keep pouring myself out in order to stay present. I’m thankful for this.

In-between job applications and spending last-minute moments with my friends and writing papers, I went to Bolivia. This trip just snuck up in my life, wedged between my seemingly never-ending to-do lists. I remember walking to the chapel at 1AM to meet my team after just turning in an assignment, not processing that I’d be stepping onto a plane the next morning and following a rigorous travel schedule with some of the most amazing people, all still in disbelief that we were actually leaving.

I needed Bolivia. I needed the kids we played with, the nervous laughs that came with the language barrier, the ridiculous games, and the bi-lingual worship. I needed my teammates’ grace and the incredible love from the Monte Blanco staff. I needed to be reminded that we’re all bound together through Christ, not finding true relationship through what we can do or prove to each other, but rather through grace and love.

At the end of the week, we climbed a mountain through a cloud rainforest. We had heard about this hike the entire week, about how the view was incredible, filled with waterfalls and lush green landscape and rivers winding through the crevices. After a rainy day and being told it was too dangerous to go, things cleared up. We woke up early the next morning, climbed in the back of the trucks, and winded through the switchbacks until we hit the trailhead.

Climbing after an exhausting week in humidity and high elevation is always an experience and we were anxious to see the view from the top. But when we got there, we saw clouds.

And that’s about it.

Our view was blocked. We sat on the side of the mountain, waiting for the clouds to burn off. I found a spot away from the group, folded my knees to my chest and stared into the clouds, angry.

I hated not being able to see what was below. Hated it. My body tired, mind exhausted, and overall drained, I just wanted to see. I wanted to know what was in front of me, soak in the beauty and make the trek up worth it.

But that’s not what happened. And as I sat there, fuming in my exhausted anger, I realized it was ok not to see. It’s ok not to know, it’s ok to work hard to get somewhere and not have a clear vision because the Lord does. He’s going to lift the clouds, allow them to burn off when He needs them to. But right now, in the midst of graduation and transitions, labeled unknowns, and just plain unknowns, find peace in your blocked view because the Lord’s got you.

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God never stopped creating

I’ve been thinking a lot about fear recently.

Maybe it’s because I’m graduating in three months and have no idea what I’m doing with my life or maybe it’s because I’ve been writing a paper for the past year (yes, year) about fear that was due this past weekend.

Well, it’s probably a heavy combination of both of those things because they’ve taken up so many of my thoughts in the past month.

Intensely studying fear through Gothic literature for the past year, and especially the past month, has created a huge space for me to analyze what terrifies me the most right now and how I’m trying to cope with that.

Which is what I’ve really trying to focus on recently. I’m finding that the more I recognize the core reasons of why I’m afraid of the future, the more I am able to stop being a stressed-out mess right now and confidently move forward.

It’s hard to admit this because it seems like something that should be obvious to me at this point, but right now I am absolutely terrified that God is going to stop being creative in my life.

Let me explain: during my capstone class I took in January, as we circled up our desks and discussed the reading, one of my classmates made an interesting observation in response to creativity. She said that oftentimes we live and think as if God stopped creating after the creation of the world.

This stuck with me. It’s been rattling around in my brain ever since. During chapel a few days after that class where we were provided a space to sit and pray in silence, I realized that all of my worries at that moment came out of this fear that God is going to stop being creative in my life after I leave this place in May.

Even though this past year has brought so much growth and joy and love, I know the deadline is quickly approaching and I can’t help but elevate the inevitable changes to come in my mind. I’m going to be graduating single, hopefully relocating to a new city, and having to take on life much more independently than in the past. All good things, but also different than what I’ve experienced.

And in the midst of such good things happening, this is where the fears start flooding in my overactive, overthinking mind. I’m not going to find a job. I’m never going to find close friends like this again. I’ll never get married. I’ll have to live alone. I won’t feel this safe again.

Somehow I got in my head that since I can’t even begin to imagine what my life could possibly look like post-graduation, God is just going to be done creating exciting things in my future. That since I’ve had a good run here, I’ve already used up my turn developing close relationships in a safe community, discovering my passions, and experiencing joy with people I love.

But what a lie this is. Because God never stopped being a creator and to dabble in the idea that He has goes completely against His character.

Just as God has proved to be faithful and creative thus far, He is going to continue to bring surprises and joys and community into my life.

So if you’re where I’m at today, with this irrational fear that today is your peak and that it’s all going downhill, stop. Because God is going to do things you can’t imagine and even though it will probably include some loneliness and confusion, it will also include extraneous moments of love, joy, and peace.

Our stories don’t stop the minute we graduate. Our narratives will continue in ways we can’t even begin to imagine, bringing people and opportunities and work that will make our lives just as rich or richer than they are right now. And even though I have a hard time believing that, I’m starting to trust that it’s true because God is creative and faithful and able to see past what we can’t.