Ecclesiastes tells us there’s a time to dance and a time to weep. But life begs me ask the question, is there a time for both?
I’ve long been convinced of the need for the appropriateness of responding to seasons of grief with tears and seasons of gain with glee. But what about when both seasons collide? It’s not always so easy to differentiate.
Life has certainly been seasons of ups and downs and not long ago was a long stretch of hard. But since then it seems like it’s been this odd compilation of both. So much good has happened since then, so much healing and so many gifts. But there’s been more hard along the way mixed in- the continued holes left from that season, continued hard and hurts, new somber discoveries and battles to face.
A couple weeks ago this weird juxtaposition of good and bad collided more fiercely as we received surprisingly joyful news about our foster-to-adopt journey, but also received news of my mom having new medical difficulties. The days- the moments, really- unfolded like a roller coaster on steroids. We celebrated our foster daughter’s birthday (in itself an odd time of celebration and grief), received bothersome news about her foster-to-adopt journey that day, then received the news of my mom’s health concerns. The next day we received great news of the foster-to-adopt journey and prayed and waited anxiously for my mom’s doctor’s appointments and tests. The days then continued much the same- more great news, more hard, more celebrating, more tension.
We need to grieve and rejoice well. But I found myself frozen in how to respond when the same day held news of shocking joy and news of heavy concern. God, do I weep now or dance? Where is the verse in Ecclesiastes for this?
Do you ever wonder how God does it? How He sees it all, witnesses it all, hears it all? And all at the same time? He Who always grieves and is always joyful.
We find ourselves “…sorrowful yet always rejoicing….” and He is the One Who “…carried our sorrows…” and doesn’t He still?
Can we find this balance of the sad and beautiful? Our celebrations still present but slightly pacified by the heavy, and heaviness itself somewhat lifted by the sun peeking through?
I remember, one of the first impressions and thought patterns post-trauma was that I had now seen the scar-faced side to life. I felt like all the beauty, all the joy, all the good up until that point was this false, fake, happy side but then the head turned the other way and there was the full reality- scars, horror, terror.
After seeing that side, how do you pretend to appreciate the other?
I live life flinching, even when the good side of life is smiling and smooth, I feel this uneasy tremble at knowing what’s on the other side of that face.
There’s always the tension of this good and bad, but what’s sad is that the impression of the bad is so strong that it sneaks into the good and lessens it, scars it too, taints it.
I let the heavy lay hard and crush the happiness, and the bad outweighs the good, and I have the opposite of rose-colored glasses- everything gets tainted bleak and I just know that scar-faced side is simply a turn away.
But how does a girl of God reckon this with His promise to work all things together for good? All things- even the horror, the scars, the ugly side of life.
There’s this battle with PTSD but another with unbelief.
How can I let myself despise the good, allow the bad to overtake it and speak for it and define it, and not see that just the opposite is how we are supposed to live?
I believe Lord. Help my unbelief.
To let the broken, messy, damaged side be seen through the filter of good, seen through the lens of what’s right, what’s lovely, what’s beautiful.
I’m certainly not one for sugar coating things or using fake rose-colored glasses. But the reality is in a world of good and evil, we can’t always compartmentalize them. There’re areas in life where they stream together and seasons of simultaneous up and down, and the tendency is for the dark side to steal joy from the light. Cynicism creeps, and the parts of us that are whole we start to break so that all the broken is at least consistent.
I know the sound of the voice that whispers that all the good is a sham. That tries to tell me to live life walking on egg shells and reminds me of all the wrong, both present and potential.
But if I truly trust the sovereignty of God, and believe in His goodness and love, then I have to let Him get the final word. I have to allow the dark areas of life to be crushed by the Light, to know that they submit to the good, not the other way around.
We are commanded to cling to what is good- and generally commands are made because we have to be told, because it doesn’t come natural or easy. And we forget.
It takes work to hold onto good.
And if He works all things for good, if even the bad will be transformed in His great flipping, then isn’t it all good? All the beauty still beautiful and all the bad serving the beauty, becoming it as well.
It really is all good.
I don’t feel it and I still flinch and cynicism tries to be my crown. But with work and by faith and through grace I have to preach to myself and force myself to practice this great hope.
I don’t want to live life allowing the scar-faced side to dominate the whole picture. Instead I need to go to the One Who carried my sorrows and wears the scars and transforms them into a gift of grace and good.
Because the scars are there, we can’t deny them. But we have to believe that because of The Ultimate Scar-bearer they aren’t what they simply seem to be. Is He not the Healer?
So we go to God, with our hurt and tears and confusion and hands lifted in adoration and hope. Pain and praise collide and we find a way by His grace to hold on, in this complexity, in this tension. In this hope.
2 Corinthians 6:10