“Cari the only guaranteed cure for what you are going through is a complete hysterectomy.” My gut felt it before my emotions. For some women in their 40s, a hysterectomy might not feel as big of a blow, but for me, it was huge. I would be loosing an organ that I’d never been able to use. I have no children, and there is, albeit small, still a glimmer of hope that I might carry a child one day.
I can’t live with my symptoms every day, but it also feels equally impossible to think of completely removing my uterus all together. The situation has brought up questions about belief and God and hope. I have had such little belief that God would heal me, in fact, there is nearly no hope of that to be found with in me. So, instead of being responsible with my emotion, I instead decided to feel it, to speak it and to let others in.
In the feeling, speaking and letting others in, I have discovered a whole new world of belonging, acceptance, truth, and hope. In my faith tradition, people often speak of hope and immediately turn difficulty into a lesson instead of walking through the difficulty and feeling it, speaking it, lamenting it, and allowing others to be in it with you too. In the past two months of my life, I have felt belonging that can not be conjured up or forced, it has come with the vulnerability of not believing, not having an answer, not having hope, and letting others know about it.
What still feels impossible, difficult, and sad … is creating intimacy in friendships and an honesty with Jesus that I didn’t know was missing. It has been this grief, which continues to come in waves rather than a steady stream, that has led me to belonging and hope.
I haven’t arrived at hope. I mostly, simply, feel it on occasion. I can’t put words to it, nor do I feel it would be right to do so at this time, but somewhere there is belief that hope is building.
As I have experienced this very personal grief, which came following an Autumn and Winter full of the loss of loved ones, I cannot help but speak of grief today.
Grief is not an experience meant only for those who have lost loved ones, it is the great equalizer of the human experience and for every single one of us it is unique in its experience. Grief is palpable today. Shootings, suicides, hatred, disaster, war, dehumanization, racism, discord, loss, unmet expectations, and dreams that crumble into a pile of pieces on the floor of the heart lead to a grief that mingles, swells, and over-takes life and at times its suffocating presence feels more than one can bare.
As another very public suicide took place this week, and devastating news for dear friends, along with several conversations with friends about hope deferred and need for resurrection, this week I have tasted grief as it lapped like a wave kissing the shore.
Resurrection is the hope. It is the word that says, Grief and Death do not have the final say!” But for most, dare I say all of us, resurrection is not imaginable. Resurrection is the fairytale, the idea that victory beyond death is possible, seems foolish. Mary and Martha knew these feelings when they lost their brother Lazarus. They wept. Their friend Jesus, who was known for healing disease stayed away and only showed up after Lazarus had already passed. When he arrived, both Mary and Martha grieved and asked “where were you? If you had been here then my brother wouldn’t be dead!” Jesus felt their grief and wept with them.
Jesus also held the end of the story. He knew it. He knew what was about to come. Their imaginations could not think beyond death, so what was about to happen, was beyond their scope of understanding. After Jesus met Mary and Martha and friends in their grief he asked the stone that covered the grave to be removed. People scoffed and questioned, Jesus called Lazarus out. And, you know what happened? Lazarus came. He was no longer dead. Death didn’t have the final word.
Jesus is in the habit of resurrecting things, self included. And we, we are invited to believe that this habit continues today.
I don’t know where you need resurrection. I can’t tell you exactly how to hope for it. I am not even certain that I fully believe it is possible for me… just yet. But, I do believe that Jesus wants resurrection for each of us and death… whatever death we are experiencing will not have the final word.
I am learning to speak my unbelief and ask for belief.
I am not isolating in my situation but inviting others who believe to believe for me and with me.
I am not spiritualizing the process and loss but allowing myself to not have answers.
I am not forcing false hope, but asking others to have hope for what I cannot.
I notice a growing desire for the ability to imagine resurrection is possible rather than shaming myself for not having imagination for it.
I am speaking what I want without condition rather than being responsible with my wants.
I am submitting to the love and faithfulness of others and saying yes to things that I may or may not understand.
I am curious and paying attention to what is going on each day rather than making decisions about what is happening and what God is doing through the grief.
Each of these things is a part of what breeds connection with Jesus, Joy, Love, Hope and Belonging.
In your grief, or in the grief of a loved one, may resurrection found in Jesus, hem you in.