I remember the first morning that I woke up without the feeling of bricks on my chest or darkness covering my eyes. What a gift! It was the first day since finding out that my baby went to heaven where I could sense that I was moving in a forward motion. It felt good, but also completely bizarre. Around that same time I took my daughter Abigail to a birthday party at a gymnastics facility. I dressed her in a pink leotard, and watched her smile at herself in the mirror. We danced and ran around without any inhibition. I felt the Lord speak to me at that party: “your mourning will turn to dancing.” God meets us right where we are even when it feels absurd. When you are in the midst of grief it feels unnatural to be joyful. But I know for me, in that moment with my gleeful toddler, that joy was supernatural.
I am learning to create space to grieve, but to also give myself permission to experience joy in the midst of my pain. I’m choosing in this season to embrace every feeling that I have, joy and sorrow, but also hoping to filter them through a holy lens. What I mean by that is not a self-righteous holiness, or even that I am made holy by my grief, but that I am being made holy through these emotions by God’s grace. God gives me joy. God allowed what caused my mourning. I will praise Him in this storm, in my joy and in my sorrow.
“The self-same well from which your laughter rises was often times filled with your tears. The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” – Gibran, Poet
I never imagined that I would have the capacity to feel so much at once until we lost our baby. But I’m finding that it’s not my capacity to feel that is the struggle, instead it’s giving myself permission that can be the most difficult. We live in a world where comparison can steal joy, and insecurity wrapped in pride can steal sorrow. God allowed such things and gave us such emotions to draw us closer to Himself. In preventing either joy or sorrow we are therefore getting in the way of a closer relationship with Him. So I will mourn and I will dance.
The dance that comes with mourning is not always (maybe never) graceful. It can be fluid because these feelings, mourning and joy, don’t always take turns. While death is happening so is life. People in our lives will celebrate life’s sweetness while gut-punching heartbreak continues just the same. The tension between crying and smiling is real. But if we seek God we will find that He is our portion. It is right to dance. It is justifiable to mourn. God is present with us in both. And, He gives good gifts. Furthermore, He is good. He is faithful. He has a plan. And we know that because of Christ, life comes from death. And, because of Christ, we will go on dancing.