As humans, we seem to have this proclivity for shielding ourselves from the reality of loss, from the grief it demands.
And so we repackage our pain, we re-label it. And maybe worst of all, we imbue it with fault. Surely someone is to blame!
Desperately, our minds analyze the blameworthy possibilities, inventing antagonists and poisoning memories. The "what ifs" of hopeful dreaming deform into the "if onlys" of hope-sick accusation.
And all the while we fight, but we don't grieve.
We search, but we refuse to grieve. We question, we fear, we reframe the narrative and reinterpret the past; we pretend.
But we won't grieve.
This morning I fully realized, and spoke aloud for the first time, a loss my heart has been trying to grieve.
It's the loss of "the sweet season."
That was the handful of years when my four kids were all in the mix of toddler and early elementary. Our rhythms were simple and meaningful. Our family was young and tender and silly.
I'm thinking of mornings where one or two kids would skip into kindergarten and 1st grade, proudly shouldering their oversized backpacks. Back at home, two younger kiddos watched PBS shows while snuggled on the couch, munching on morning snacks in their pjs.
An early evening at the playground.
Light walks with strollers and little bikes.
Everyone had the same bedtime and we'd spend 30 minutes to an hour together in worship, reading, prayer, and conversation about any and everything imaginable.
Bath times with songs and playtimes on the floor and "Daddy, watch me jump off of this!"
It was good, and innocent, and simple, and sweet.
And I loved it.
But it's gone.
My heart feels the loss.
Today I name that loss and I choose to grieve it.
And that's good too.
Oh, to be sure, we are entering a full, fun, exciting new season!
While my younger girls blossom in middle and late elementary, my older kids are spreading their wings in Jr. High.
Weeks are full of football games at the high school stadiums, cheerleading, band and choir rehearsals, youth events, and fun social gatherings. It's great!
And I kept telling myself that...but I felt like a fraud saying it.
Not because it's false, but because I couldn't fully embrace the season I'm in now without letting go of the one I was in then. My soul was begging to grieve the loss of that time I loved so much. It was asking for permission to live in the present and love this new time of life too.
Our souls will stumble, maladroitly unsettled, as long as we secretly cling to the previous season and subvert the present one.
Our souls will work tirelessly to invent an "answer" as long as we ignore the loss and eschew the grief.
Today I'm telling myself, "Lay down the accusations and self-indictments."
I'm not failing because my kids now have 3 different bed times. I'm not derelict because bath times don't exist in our home anymore and no one makes strollers for 13-year-olds.
It's not always easy.
We don't usually feel ready.
So grieve what's gone, embrace what's now, and live fully present...because our families need us fully present.