I’m still in the middle of it. The thick part. Of my story. Of grief. I knew the happy chapters weren’t going to be the end. I knew that shadows would come again, because that is part of the scenery of life. But at the time… when Evangeline came so soon on the heels of Asher, for instance… I confess that I really did think I had moved past the thickest and hardest part of my grief chapters. I admit it: I had grown naive all over again. Not quite to the point of naivete that comes ingrained into us all with our first pregnancy ~ no, of course I could never go back that far into the naive. But I was at least naive enough again to think that God had wrapped up those chapters, and tied them up with a pretty bow, tucking them away into this magical part of my life story called the past. And then 2014 happened. And it’s been like reliving 2009 and 2010. And what’s funny is that I suddenly realize that I am right back in the middle of it. Back in the thick of it. In a place I thought I’d left, hoped I had left forever.
I’m still weary. Weary again. And then some.
Every day I feel not only emotionally and spiritually spent, but seriously physically exhausted. And no, it isn’t just because I am a young mom of three amazing little kids with electricity-like energy. It’s an exhaustion that I can not explain. It’s so much more tiring than the early days of infancy. I had so much energy when I had a 4 year old, a 14 month old, and a newborn. This is different. This is what Shauna Niequist calls the middle. And I’m still there. In the thick waistline of my grief story.
When you’re in the middle, pretty much all you can ask for are little bits of flame to light the darkness that feels interminable. You don’t know what the story is about when you’re in the middle of it. You think you do, but you don’t. … I hate the middle. The middle is the fog, the exhaustion, the loneliness, the daily battle against despair and the nagging fear that tomorrow will be just like today, only you’ll be wearier and less able to defend yourself against it. The middle is the lonely place, when you can’t find words to say how deeply empty you feel, when you try to connect but you feel like thick glass is separating you from the rest of the world, isolating and deadening everything.
~Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet, p216
There are diamonds in crevices, hidden throughout the darkness. To be sure.
The nine jewels in my crown who live in heaven are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the diamond mining we do in the shadows of our grief.
I believe in mining through the darkest seasons in our lives and choosing to believe that we’ll find something important every time.
~Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet, p194
But sometimes when stuck in the middle of it all, I am not equipped for the mining yet. That often comes later. It comes when the exhaustion is not so overwhelming, when the tears are not always at the ready, when the cynicism has worn away a bit. In the meantime, it’s the comfort of Christ, and the comfort He extends through His people, that helps pull me through the middle.
Jesus is no stranger to pain or loss or heartache, and there are some times when the only thing that eases the pain is His comfort. I wasn’t ready, and still am not, to mine through this experience for opportunities to grow, things to learn, ways to transcend and transform. Maybe I’ll be ready over time, and maybe not. But it is an opportunity to be comforted. I’d rather not need the comfort. But I’m thankful that it’s there when I need it, because I’ve needed it desperately this month.
~Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet, p248
As we continue to see the story of our life revealed through time and circumstances, we are thankful to know who the author is. We trust Him and praise Him. We seek His face, His mercy, His grace. We rest in His comfort and delight in His love. We cry to Him and fall at His feet, and know that He is here with us even in the thickness of the middle.