Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Hurting for the Holidays: When Advent is Grieving by Rachel Haas

photo by Jennifer Upton

For the 2013 holiday season, I am hosting a blog series called Hurting for the Holidays.  Twenty-six amazing guest writers are sharing their hearts, hurts, and helps to help those of us who carry an internal ache to navigate this celebratory season.  Find all posts in the series here, and participate via social media through the hashtag #HurtingfortheHolidays.

i don't know what to write.

because what do you say when you thought your grandma was out of the woods, that there was no more cancer anymore, and then find out that we were all wrong? what do you say when the words "brain tumor" come the week of Thanksgiving?

i love Christmas. it's my favourite holiday. there's a glowing tree in my house now, one that has captivated my little girl and my cat alike. but there's this dark little whisper clinging to all of our shoulders. i already lost one grandmother this year :: i don't think i can do it again.

i watched my grandma hold my daughter on Thanksgiving Day, watched her pull the toybox out with familiar items from my own youth hidden inside. i listened to her laugh while my daughter giggled and played with all the ferocity of a fourteen month old handed a pile of new items to explore. the next day, she called me and was near to tears as she told me how much she treasured holding my little girl and listening to her laugh. the call ended and i sobbed until i ached at the realization that my daughter might never know this great lady as anything more than a face in a photograph.

and then i feel selfish. selfish for making it about me, selfish for the tears that glisten in the glow of the twinkle lights. my momma murmurs softly, though He slay us, we will trust Him, and i want to scream, but this is the time of newness. this is always the time of Advent, that sweet song of come Thou long expected Jesus that fills my heart. but this year, it is a different kind of waiting, and it's not one that fills me with warmth.

there's that word :: Advent. coming into place. coming into being. it feels so wrong to be grieving during this time. this is that time of opening. this year it feels like cracking, a wild splitting that is rending me into pieces.

i want to have answers. i want to clear my throat and lay out the solution in neat little rows, the comfortable kind of ending. but i don't have one.

this year, i'm doing more than just celebrating Advent. i'm living it, purely and without a single shred of ability to push the clock hands any faster.

i'm just sitting and waiting in the light of my Christmas tree, with tears flowing down my face, and i'm waiting for Him to find me.

I love Rachel's admittance that she does not have all the answers, or any of them.  That all she has is the pain and the waiting, and the hope that He will find her [us].  I think all too often well-meaning loved ones want to "fix" the pain of those who ache, of providing threadbare "answers" for the unanswerable.  But it is a powerful, priceless gift to come alongside the hurting and say, "There are no answers.  I don't understand.  But I am here."  Thank you for reminding me of that, Rachel.  

This year, is there someone in your life you can ask to come and sit with you and honor your pain?  Remember that while a face-to-face honoring is optimal, online/long distance sitting is also very powerful. 

* * *

Rachel is one of the wild ones. She is a paint-flinging coffee-consuming sacred-chasing word weaver who has embraced the Wild Lion of Judah with eyes wide open. Married four years to her lover, Jonathon, and adoring momma to Marian. She dwells in between Midwestern cornfields where she pours her heart out in lowercase abandon. Her words can be found at dramatic elegance

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"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King