“There is no such thing as a good day, or a bad day. There is only a day of grace. And some days the grace of God allows you to enjoy what is happening and some days the grace of God allows you to endure what is happening. But don’t think about good and bad anymore, just enjoy the grace that is present.” – Graham Cooke
I just couldn’t even handle one more minute of her crying. My head had been barricaded by hotel pillows and a comforter for an hour while Ryan and I took turns shushing and rocking our inconsolable baby in that dark, humid hotel room. It was all so uncomfortable. The weather, the circumstances, the sleeplessness, the emotional intensity, the grieving, the busyness.
We found ourselves in Texas saying goodbye to the sweetest great aunt a girl could ask for. It was a tearful goodbye. She is the woman we named our daughter after. A woman of joy, tenacity, kindness and warmth. A woman I look up to greatly. After months of suffering, I was happy to know she was now in the arms of Jesus without any pain. But having to say goodbye, and watching other family members ache in her absence, was so difficult.
At the service that day I filed into the sanctuary with family toting my 9 month old baby girl. She did not understand the gravity of the situation. She was enamored by the people, the flowers, and the singing. In the midst of the service she giggled. I was so embarrassed. “This is no time for giggling,” I thought to myself. I quickly swooped her up and locked eyes with the exit. I felt my soul heavy as I tried to leave. I needed to be there, I knew this service was part of my process of saying goodbye.
I sat on the ground in the back and watched my baby as she crawled around. She waved the program and stood up and danced to the music. She continued to giggle. I cried. It was all hard. Her demeanor so mismatched the occasion. It made me feel uncomfortable. The Lord began to speak to my heart. He beckoned me to sit in the discomfort. To allow Summer to experience her unequivocal joy. To find rest in knowing that everyone can have their own expression and process. That life is to be celebrated. That Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 can all happen at the same time among different people.
As the trip continued, I noticed my inclination to run from discomfort. I push away from it and in doing so I lose out on building mental, spiritual and emotional muscles. That night as Summer’s cries bled through the layers of pillows and blankets around my head, I decided to try something different. I grabbed a pillow and went to the bathroom. I closed the door, threw my pillow and some towels in the bathtub, turned off the lights, and laid down for sleep. It was uncomfortable, to say the least.
I asked Jesus to come teach me to rest despite the circumstances. I began to focus on the gifts surrounding me during this trip. My attention fell on the valuable time with family, the nice hotel room, the amazing flight there, the hospitality of my aunt and uncle who hosted us for several meals, the baby’s laughter, the amazing wine I had, incredible Mexican food, the comfortable pillow under my head….and then I woke up two hours later. I was astonished that I actually fell asleep in that hotel bathtub. And that I woke up feeling completely rested and joyful!
The Lord is still stretching me in discomfort. And as He stretches me, I’m discovering spaces of spiritual hunger and need that I didn’t know existed before. I’m learning that intimacy with Jesus can be heightened in the most uncomfortable moments. I’m learning to be more quick to meditate on the gifts around me, especially in the midst of trying situations. I’m learning that both surviving and thriving is grace.
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 8-10