Three years ago Tyler and I were driving to church and as I watched the scenery go by I said to him, The world looks different to me for some reason. He asked what I meant and I replied, I’m not sure. It’s just like it’s more alive to me somehow. He suggested that maybe it was just because we’d had a long winter and everything was finally blooming again. No, it’s different than that, I replied, It’s like the sky is more blue and the grass and trees are a brighter green than I’ve ever seen before. Everything just looks so alive and more colorful and happy than I remember before.
Before… before what? I thought. I wasn’t sure what was going on, I just knew that the world looked different to me than it had in a very long time.
As we continued to talk I realized that the world wasn’t different, I was. The world looked brighter and clearer because the fog of grief had begun lifting from my eyes.
There is no way to truly explain grief, but if you’ve experienced it you know exactly what I’m talking about–fog really is the only word that comes close to describing it. Grief clouds your mind so that you can’t think like you did before. It muddles your perspective of life and loss and rips away any innocent, naive ideas that you had that horrible things would never happen. And I hadn’t even noticed that it had effected my physical vision until this moment in the car with Tyler. But it had. Even my physical had been distorted by the fog of grief that had been hovering over me and sometimes suffocating me for over five years at that point.
Grief hadn’t just effected my vision of the future and my life, it really had changed how I could see the world around me.
Still today, I sometimes catch myself looking around and noticing how beautiful the world is. It has been five years since that moment in the car, eight years since my parents death, and still my vision continues to clear more and more.
Those years of intensive grief were so painful and difficult, but they were also necessary.
I had to grieve if I ever wanted to heal and now that I’m healed, my pursuit is for wholeness.
Now, not despite the grief but because of it, I see the world with fresh eyes. I appreciate the beauty of the world around me more than before because I know what it’s like to see it through the lens of loss. I appreciate life and enjoy small moments more because I now know that the small moments are the moments that matter most. The big, monumental moments aren’t what I think of most when I think of Mom and Dad, more often I think of the little moments, the everyday acts of love and loyalty, and so I try and fail and try again to live my life intentionally everyday, not just in the “big” moments.
Grief blurred my vision for so long and in the clearing I’ve learned what it really means to live and love and thrive. I didn’t survive tragedy just to survive, just to exist and that’s it. I survived to heal, and through that healing to help others find healing as much as I can, and I refuse to stop there.
Now that I’m healed, I’m learning what it means to thrive, to pursue the abundant life that Christ promised us in Him. He proved faithful when I believed Him for healing, and now I’m trusting Him when He asks me to believe Him for wholeness. I’m not fully sure what that even means yet, but I know that it’s going to be painful… and beautiful.
If there is one lesson I’ve learned this year, that’s it. That pain and beauty aren’t completely exclusive. Actually, more often than not, they enter your life and exist together. I’m learning that life doesn’t have to be one or the other, all darkness or all light, there is a balance that can be found where we’re acknowledging and letting ourselves feel the pain for the purpose of healing, and we can also learn to open our eyes to the beauty around us at the same time.
I write this for you, dear reader. Whatever you’re walking through right now, know that you don’t have to be stuck in the darkness. Take it slow, do the work of grieving and healing (because, trust me, whether you do it intentionally or not it will come out), and take each small step toward coming out better on the other side.
Grief can overtake you and trap you where you are or it can become the fertilizer to make you grow stronger than before, you get to decide which path you take.
“With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort (1 Cor. 15:58, MSG).”