I need to warn you about something. I’m not really in my right mind yet. I don’t know if it’s the unbalanced hormones, or the loss, but I’m not yet thinking like the me that I know. And, to be perfectly honest, I’m sort of enjoying it. I am thinking like someone who’s heart longs for deeper meaning in life, and a genuine, active, real connection with God.
So, if you are like the old me, and you kind of get bored when people start talking about things you can not measure, hold or see standing in front of you, then you may want to bag off this post for now. I’m sure the silly, more shallow version of me will be making a come back in the future. I won’t have hurt feelings if you want to wait until she returns.
The first thing I have been pondering is faith and the human spirit. What a beautiful combination. I am suddenly noticing how choices and the condition of a person’s heart make it possible for sadness and blessings to occupy the same space.
I have evidence.
Example A. My sister, Gail. You may remember that I’ve blogged about my sister, Gail, and her family. Ryan was my sister Gail’s son. Ryan was a beautiful person, physically and spiritually. Ryan died in a climbing accident around Easter, three years ago. From the onset of my sister’s journey to live without her eldest son, she has boldly committed to grieve and worship simultaneously. What happened next is a miracle.
This past weekend, while I was grieving the loss of our unborn child, my sister, Gail, was conducting a “Birthday Weekend” for my parents, sisters and nieces. Gail flew to Wisconsin from Colorado with the singular purpose of making all her family’s unmet Birthday wishes come true. For 48 hours, Gail strategically preformed a dozen or so complicated acts of kindness, with the singular purpose of making people happy. There was a water balloon fight (in some seriously cold Wisconsin temps), a “Frozen” party (after the water balloons, of course), a tea party, a dance party, and the list continues.
Everyone was supposed to tell Gail about their Birthday wishes in advance. I thought I forgot to tell Gail what mine was. I guess I was wrong. Somewhere along the way I must have said I always wished I could have a surprise party. You know, the kind someone else plans for you, and not the kind you plan for yourself.
I came over to my mom’s on Saturday morning. I bet you can guess what happened next. “SURPRISE”!!!! The girls did it. They surprised me. Everyone bought me gifts too, which was the real reason I wanted a surprise party.
One of the gifts Gail gave me was a butterfly decoration. She gave one to everybody. The butterfly represents transformation. Life can be ugly, and it can leave us feeling low and unworthy. Gail knows that better than most. Gail explained, our Faith in Christ can transform our hearts, and turn sadness into beauty and worship, allowing our hearts both to grieve and to soar.
Gail said that regardless of our circumstances, our lives can become like butterflies; sharing beauty with others who witness the butterfly in flight.
Kind of deep, right? Kind of perfect, is what I was thinking.
At one point in the day, we were on a hill singing worship songs. Gail was telling us a bit more about her butterfly theory. And, just in case we missed her point entirely, she started to run and flap her “butterfly wings”. Gail asked us to join her. Only, we didn’t. Watching her do this on her own was just too much fun. I’m not sure what happened. That butterfly performance was for sure more like a me thing to do. It wasn’t a typical Gail thing. Really. Not at all.
I keep thinking about Gail on top of that hill, flapping her arms, trying to make us laugh. And, I think THAT is the miracle I know about. The miracle I have seen. This grieving mother, this grieving, joyful mother, without her living, first-born son, intent on spreading joy and encouragement into the lives of people she knows. This is the evidence I have that with a heart in the right condition, intent on worship, faith and good choices, God will, and has, poured out blessings and joy, despite sad circumstances.
I’ve seen it.
I didn’t have a lot of words to share this weekend. But, I want to use some words now to thank Gail, and to thank God for using Gail to show me things I desperately needed to know.
I am not sure anything will impact my thoughts as much as the miracle that is my sister’s life. But, there are other smaller things happening that keep my heart in praise mode. Like these two guys:
I didn’t know how my own physical difficulty combined with a common family heart ache would affect teen age boys. My boys have been trained by their Dad, and, just to be super honest, I couldn’t hope for more than these guys to turn out like their Dad. I’ve been PRAYING that this is exactly what happens. Their Dad is seriously still my favorite person. Ever.
That being said, nobody’s perfect. If you hire Scott to be your nursemaid, you’d better have a back up in mind. He isn’t good at it. He’s good at a ton of things, but sympathy and pillow fluffing isn’t one of them. I’m not down very often, but when I am, I’m pretty sure Scott would like to write me a prescription for, “Call me when it’s over.”
I’m just kidding. He’s not that bad, but these jokes are just coming to me, and I’ve been really serious lately, so can we just have some fun for once? I don’t think Scott will care. Not that he won’t find out. Some gabby mcblabber mouth is bound to tell Scott what I said. Someone always does. I keep telling Scott that he shouldn’t be offended. The stuff I blog about is just between my blog friends and me. It’s not like I’d share that with just anyone.
But, what I was talking about was my boys. I have felt this sweetness coming out of them that makes my heart all soft. If you have teenage boys, you know what I mean. I know that if I want what’s best for my boys, then I should be glad they my boys are becoming more independent. I shouldn’t long for my boys to hold my hand or curl up in my lap like they did when they were little. That would be nice, but I don’t think it would be so good for them. I want my boys to know how to take care of themselves. They want that for themselves too. I can tell, and that’s why it feels like they are instinctively pulling away in small but steady increments.
I can tell you that when I’ve been sad and low, seeing my sweet sons keep one eyeball on me, sharing spontaneous hugs, and being very considerate of my needs, warmed my heart. Seeing the tears in their eyes when they saw the tears in mine, helped me remember that these guys are independent and strong, but they have big, kind hearts.
I asked for ice cream one night. They ran out and got it (Yes. There was definitely something in that for them too), and they bought milk and toilet paper too. I didn’t know my boys were old enough to be caretakers, but I guess they are. That’s another blessing.
The other things that have been happening are just so little. It’s really nothing at all, but it’s stuff that makes me see how God can use sadness to bring families together, and make a family feel closer. It’s stuff like three teenagers sticking close to home, and opting not to go anywhere so they can hang out with their parents. It’s three teenagers and two parents, spontaneously doing a crazy dance in the kitchen. It’s two parents clinging to each other, and worrying about how to solve each other’s grief.
This is my testimony. This is me in a state of worship. This is part of my sad and beautiful story. We all have one. This is me, trying to be a butterfly. Next year I am totally going to flap my arms on top of that hill. Gail should NOT have all the fun.