Hazelnut coffee, sitting amidst others conversations and a window seat, it's good to be back in the land of Panera. Break has started, which means I am finally taking a moment to sit in my thoughts of how the past six weeks have been. Since I last wrote my uncle passed away. It was hard. Hard to see pain overcome my family, hard to know what was the right way to feel about it all, hard to feel that much. Hard in the deep, weighty way. There is no but in that statement. Loss is loss.
It has been one of those seasons where I have had to ask God for stubbornness. Stubbornness to not gloss over things because of the level of difficulty, to stick to my guns about asking questions and figuring out who He is and what He has for me and my family in this. Ashley Ann of Under the Sycamore, was given this beautiful cutout with these words on it. I've remembered them a lot in the past months:
Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity. Bittersweet is courageous, gutsy, earthy.
I just want to wear a t-shirt with that on it every where I go. I have always believed in hard things. Like it says, bittersweet is complex and deep. It holds so much more in it besides happiness or pain alone, bittersweet things force us to dig a few feet deeper in the hole. But only by remaining in the light.
At church a few weeks ago, Kevin Cawley talked about what we are willing to give up for the gospel. Not self-righteous sacrifices. But truly release for the sake of others. Being right in an argument. Getting my way. Being seen in a certain way. My understandings of pain. Have I been affected by the gospel in such a way that the weight of that truth supersedes my natural tendencies and desires?
I have to repent of that daily. I am constantly holding the gospel too loosely and my habits too tightly. I follow a woman named Lindsey Michael on Instagram, her IG name is HerWelshness, she has no idea who I am (I know....I tend to write a lot about people who don't know me....it's not THAT weird), but her Instagram is one of my favorites. Not because of her cute kids and adorable style--bonuses--but because she is constantly posting quotes or scripture under her photos with the tag line, "Keep me where the light is".
You see. This woman understands so fully that she cannot remain close to the Father by her own ability. She acknowledges her fickleness and is constantly and proactively reorienting herself to remain in the light. And it's beautiful to watch. I have never met this woman, but I see how the gospel has so clearly affected her and left her hungering to remain in it, to remember.
In painful things it is easy to long to remain in the light, because I haven't my own leg to stand on, but in the past few weeks when I have a little more normal, I have swiftly returned to simple normality.
My whole family was together last night, that is an extreme rarity, only occurring 4 or 5 times a year. Because it does not happen very often, gratitude wrecked my soul with the grace of siblings and siblings-in-law and parents and a niece. You see, it's like I have learned before, gratitude and grace always point to the Father. And gratitude and grace are everywhere and in everything. They are reflecting the true light. But my laziness and fickleness cost me depth and true beauty of seeing the gospel permeate my life. It's not that the Father stops gently pushing me towards it, it's that I stop looking.
This month of all the months I should be proactively wanderlust for it. It is the advent, the waiting with baited breath for the thrill of hope. And do I not still believe I need the hope that Jesus redeemed me? Have I not seen how profoundly the hope of true Justice and Mercy changes how I view the bittersweet and hard realities? This is what He has been bringing me back to for over a year now. Graces and gratitude, bittersweetness and complexity, all of which keep me where the light is. I am the worst sinner of all and He simply doesn't see me that way. My weary soul rejoices at that.