I can’t leave this post without writing this one. I am struck all the time by the ways that we tell the good but not the hard. As people, sometimes especially as believers, we spin the story, focus on the happy ending.
I don’t want to do that, especially with something that I carried on with publicly, so here’s the not-so-happy ending: this spiritual exercise that I was involved with for 7 months, that I walked through with a group of people and wrote about here held so many good things for me.
It also culminated in one of my dearest friends moving across the ocean, and the loss has been excruciating.
She is one of the people that I have lived my life alongside these past few years. I’ve known her husband since he was one of my first friends at a new school in 6th grade. Our kids are the same ages; our firsts born a day apart. And since they moved back to North Little Rock when our kids were little, we have slowly and steadily woven our lives together. Afternoons in the park and dollar movies, camping and road trips and adventures of all kinds but most of all dinners and dinners and dinners, made in her kitchen or mine, with good things bubbling and wine poured and digging through each others drawers and sometimes tears but always, always laughing.
And while I know that we are lucky to live in a world where we can keep in touch in more ways that we ever could before – I walk through my living room on Saturdays and my boys are Facetiming hers – still, it is not the same as her dreads on my cheek when she hugs me. It is not the same; there is a loss.
So I think that God, in his ever-loving care of me, gave me an experiment of time – 7 months in which to peel back my fingers, open my closed fists, calm my grasping. As I sat in the very first meeting of the group who would do 7 with me, I listened to our leader read from the introduction to the book – a book I had read twice already. She was reading a list of reasons to fast:
Those don’t sound very fun, do they? You think I might have noticed them by that time, or at least noticed the very first one on the list.
I hadn’t, but I did that day. As she said mourning, I felt a small pinch in my chest. I dismissed it immediately – that’s not why I’m doing this – but some small part of me knew even then.
Mourning. Loss. These are not the words that generally motivate me toward an activity, and certainly if there had been some way to avoid this particular pain by avoiding the process of 7, I would have dropped the whole thing like a hot potato.
But there wasn’t, and there isn’t – you never know, really, why you do the things you do: your intentions matter, of course, but the idea that we can direct any outcome is only the most appealing of illusions (except for possibly the one where I tell myself that these dear friends are only on an extended vacation, and surely they will get tired of the rain and be home soon). Ultimately, I am glad I didn’t know, do not know, cannot know – because sometimes, God overwhelms me with his provision. And sometimes I cannot catch my breath from crying at how hard life hits. But mostly, it’s both, and happens all mixed up together, in a story too big to tell just one side of.
This is simply the other half.
Okay friends, I think I’m all done writing about 7. If you’d like to read more about it, you can here. Also, you can follow along with all this fun on a regular basis: subscribe by email or RSS feed, or join me on Bloglovin‘.