Well, let's get the complaining out of the way so we can go ahead and get to the point (we will have a point that is much better than complaining).
This week has been hard. That's the only way to describe it. Why, you ask? (I always enjoy imagining that you are asking the questions I want to answer)
Well, let's see...
We helped a good friend deal with the 1 year anniversary of her husband's death (this past year has been hellish for her). The next day was the 6-month anniversary of Mom's passing and I just sank - knowing that more time would continue to get between me and the last time I hugged her and not knowing how much time is ahead before I see her again. I found out about a truly tragic death of a young person in one part of my family. I found out that somebody who was a big part of my growing up in Christ has advanced colon cancer with a fatal prognosis. Charles and I took a hard hit to our marriage (we'll be fine - we have support and a plan). God decided that this was the week to rip the cover off the last huge sin stronghold in my life - the one thing I thought I could continue to hide. Last night I found out that an aunt (in another branch of my family that had a sudden death a few weeks ago) had two strokes (at quite a young age) and I don't know how she is doing. Drama and hurt continues with some other family members and I am powerless to do anything to stop it.
It sometimes seems like too much to take in. I know I don't have it the worst, but having had a melancholy personality since I was tiny, it sometimes seems like it is my lot in life to mourn. The Bible describes the Messiah as being a man of sorrows (Isaiah 53). I always thought that meant He was melancholy like me. I'm beginning to question that now. I'm beginning to see that it might be possible for life to heap sorrows upon you without a you having to be melancholy or outright depressed.
What would cause me to question something that is pretty much foundation for my life?
While this has been going on with me, a large online community that I am connected to has been cyber-gathering to prepare to send one of their most beloved members on to Heaven. (see here) I have only been around this particular community for the few months that I have been blogging (since May? June?). I can say that I have known about Sara (the Gitzen Girl) in that time, but I have not been subscribed to her blog and we haven't had any of those overlaps in online activity the way I do with some other bloggers. I know that in the first days of exploring the new online community I had joined and figuring out where my little space would be, I came across Sara's blog. I remember seeing it and having a bad reaction to the name "Choose Joy". Exhibiting my penchant for contempt prior to investigation, I did not stick around to see why she would want to choose joy. I wrote it off in my mind as being one of those hearts-and-flowers blogs written by somebody who just didn't get that life hurts.
So here I am publicly admitting (again) that I am wrong.
Sara knows that life hurts in ways that I cannot fathom. (see here) And still she has made the conscious decision to choose joy. (see one of her many explanations for it here) She has chosen to trust God in ways that are foreign and unimaginable to me. Yet there it is for all to see. Those close to her in life vouch for the fact that she is exactly who she says she is. She chooses joy.
Many people have been writing this week on their own blogs about Sara has touched their lives in ways big, small, and permanent. (many of them are linking up over here if you want to see for yourself) They have mentioned how Sara's choice for joy is going to long outlast her physical presence on this earth. Indeed, Sara and I have never directly interacted, but she is having an effect on my life right now. Here I am writing about her when I've never even exchanged pleasantries with her.
I often read people commenting that they think they should have learned some lesson (pick one) by whatever age they are at now. I feel that way myself about certain things. I should know more - BE more - by this ripe old age of 42, shouldn't I? Evidently not. God is not going to teach me all there is to know and then let me plateau and coast on. Nope. I'm going to keep learning. I'm going to keep getting refined. The good work He is completing in me probably won't be finished until about 30 days after they bury me.
So even though I think this lesson of melancholy vs. joy should have been learned and settled years ago, it isn't. Even now, God is using Sara's faithfulness to Him to teach me more. I hope that I can honor her by being true to the lesson somehow.
Please pray for Sara's safe passage from this painful life into the painless arms of her Savior. Please pray for those left behind who will have to wait to see her again. And think good squirrel-chasing, bone-chewing thoughts for Riley, who will be without his beloved Sara.