I’ve been blogging less lately, and I wonder whether it is partly because many of the things on my mind and heart right now are so particularly hard to articulate. Combine that with my mental and physical energy levels being pretty depleted and I wind up with a few unfinished drafts and a lot of unfinished thoughts.
But something I read recently (a tiny part of a truly beautiful book*, which I will review in due course, as it deserves a whole blog post to itself) has reminded me to keep trying, in all kinds of ways, but particularly with regards to writing. There are certain things each of us needs to keep doing, because that is how we were made, it’s what heals us, and it’s our own offering to the world and to God. Writing is one of mine.
Of course, the last two vaguely introductory paragraphs are a long-winded way of stalling, because I want to write this post about one of those things that are particularly hard to articulate.
I want to write about loss. And gain. And it all ties in a little with sacrifice and faith and life and death and hope and despair. (See? Hard to articulate!)
Lately, I’ve been aware of a sense of loss in my life. It’s been there for a while but when you lose something or someone precious, it comes back in different ways at different times, and it can remind you of other losses too.
That’s one of the reasons it’s so hard to write about. You can’t define loss, and it doesn’t stay neatly in one part of your heart or one time of your life, and it doesn’t always look or feel the same. And life is a cycle of loss and mourning, and also of growth and life and celebration, but that cycle comes and goes in all kinds of ways at all kinds of times.
The loss I feel in recent months is not just one loss. It’s the loss of a much longed-for baby, several years ago. But it’s also the loss of a life I thought I’d have, a way of parenting I thought I’d have, a freedom I thought I’d have. It’s the loss of parts of myself: once carefree and adventurous, easy-going and friendly, and wildly idealistic, I now find that person lost in a haze of anxiety, exhaustion and disillusionment. There’s also the loss of things I was able to do and people I was able to see. And the loss of things I hoped for.
It’s not only my loss I carry either. Perhaps most painful of all is our adopted children’s loss. Their loss is mostly their story to tell, not mine, but I daily see the things they could have had – should have had – and didn’t, and how that affects them and us in every aspect of our lives. They carry a wound that is deep.
But how do I write about all the hope and goodness and life that run like golden threads through all of this? How do I explain that every day is full of sacrifice – laying things down, losing them – but it’s also full of wonder, love, joy even? How do I explain that I can feel such sorrow for the things I hoped for but won’t have, such yearning for my children’s hearts to heal, but in the same day the blooming of a single plant or one silly burst of laughter with my children can fill my soul completely? How do I explain that I can carry loss and joy, despair and hope in any single moment, and how that feels like life?
I don’t believe our lives would be richer without sacrifice. I believe it’s in carrying our crosses that we find life.
I don’t believe that we get everything we ever wanted, or that you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it, or that we can always take hold of our dreams. I do believe that life can surprise us, though. That it can throw our worst nightmare at us but also offer us more goodness than we can ever imagine.
I believe that even in losing ourselves or parts of ourselves, we might be discovering more about ourselves too.
I believe that in being honest about the pain of our losses as well as the goodness in our lives, we can encourage each other that we are not alone.
And I guess that is why I write: to be honest, and to encourage, for myself and for anyone else who happens upon my tiny corner of the internet.
*(I guess I haven’t learned that yet, by Shauna Niequist)