I John 3:18

All original content copyright Jessica Nicole Schafer, 2007-2016.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Neverending Burden, The Neverending Gift

One of the people most precious to me in this world recently said something to me, and I can't get her words out of my head.  She said, "You have a whole lotta love to give." 
The same is true for her, as well.

It has made me think about LOVE even more lately, what love looks like, and what it definitely is not.  One of the beautiful things about this four letter word is that because of it, we carry one another's burdens.  As we should.  *Love wouldn't have it any other way!* 
Thankfully, so many of these burdens will eventually come to an end.  Thank God!  So much of the sorrow we are handed ends up being healed, righted, repaired, etc.  

But not grief.  Oh, grief stays.

It plants itself right in the middle of our souls, and though we ache so badly and miss them every moment...and maybe we don't even want to have to feel or talk about the hurt we carry.....still, grief stays.
It rocks our world.  Losing a loved one is a loss we will always feel.  It comes uninvited, inconvenient, and intrusively into our lives.  It refuses to be replaced with the latest fad Christian theological diet, it cannot be undone. Shame on us for ever making other people feel as if they are a mission, as if they are something that needs to be repaired! Shame on us for handing over a theology that wants to staple smiling faces onto grieving hearts, merely for our own benefit and satisfaction!  May we strive to find, to be, real love. 

I don't know everything about grief.  Grief is one of the few burdens we will always carry.  It is sacred, it is intimate, it is haunting, it is holy, it is heavy...and it won't end as long as we have breath. I think grief is so very much like love, in that it is genuine, we will know it when we see it...without a doubt.
I see grief the way I see a whole lot in this life, in that I hope to choose the way of love every single time. Of course, I fail....everyday.  But I try.  Our sweet son told me that he was watching a cartoon recently, and the character reminded him of me.  I thought, "Oh boy...this will be interesting"...but it warmed me to the core.  He said the characters were speaking about justice, and how if someone does something bad to you, you should do something bad back to them.  One of the characters replies, "But what if you offer love instead of hatred?"...that was what reminded him of me.  I'll be hanging onto that for a while! Because I fail a lot as a wife, mother, friend, etc., but if I have passed on love to him, I'm calling that a win.  If that's all he remembers of me, that's what I want it to be.  LOVE.

Maybe if we stopped trying to find all the reasons, lessons, or meanings out of one another's grief, we could instead choose to just love one another- in whatever we are going through.  I like the idea of raw feelings replacing empty reasoning.  I like the idea of tears replacing trite sayings. I like the idea of heavy hugs replacing hollow theologies.  I like the idea of love replacing lessons.  I remember all the moments in my own life when the ones who love me most came beside me, and let love win the day.  I have a guess that you remember those times, too. 

So yes, in this life we have to---no, we *get to*---carry grief with one another.  That is one way love will win out.  Not when our grief is quieted by some super-positive-go-lucky-statement.  NO, love wins out when someone chooses to pick up the blanket of grief around us, crawl underneath, and say, "I'm here.  You are not alone"...that is love. 

Maybe the ideas of positivity, uplifting, cheerfulness, etc., etc., can help with some things.  But the thing is, being uplifted and positive is not always the answer. Not with grief, because when we wake up tomorrow, we will still not have the loved one we miss so dearly. I don't think I'm the only one who often needs someone to sit with me, allow me to feel all the feels...whatever they may be...and maybe even feel some of the same.  That is one of the ways I show love to my loved ones, I want to go there, join them, and just be in the moment with them.  It's part of the reason (not all, but part) I continue to write.  I know so many others who don't have that, and they just need a safe space to grieve, yet they're shown by those around them that it's not safe to grieve. 

*If love is near, it will always be safe to grieve.*

May we strive to find, and be, real love.  May we allow others the freedom to grieve, without burdening them with some idea that they need to be "done", or find an escape route to the nearest happy go lucky place that will make them forget their pain.  Perhaps we should find our way into their lives, instead of trying to help them escape.  *I think maybe love will do that...it will join you when you hurt, not shut you up and walk away.  It will go the distance, always.  Without question.*
There is a whole lotta holiness, sacredness, and God, to be found when someone dares to share their sorrow, and someone else dares to help them carry it...merely by choosing the way of love.

Grief over losing our loved ones is neverending.  But the gift of love is also neverending...so long as we choose to use that four letter word. That, my dear friends, is good news.

***Love has no end, nor the grief that holds its hand.***

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