Custom Search

Monday, April 25, 2011

Losing God To Find Him

James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

The question on my heart today is wondering whether there is a difference between holding our truths with a relaxed and open hand, and doubting?

I've been on such a roller coaster ride the last three months, and that roller coaster is one to be expected. I feel confident residing in the understanding that most of those who are witness to my grief process, although they may not be able to empathize, can show compassion for the undertaking that I am going through. There have been moments in the last four weeks where I have completely lost my faith. Yep, I have been broken to a place of complete and utter loss of my faith in God. . .and this is a statement I never thought I would speak in my life, and yet it has happened. It has happened more than once, and I wouldn't be surprised if I wasn't out of the woods yet.

A specific moment comes to mind, and although there are many it's this one I will share. During worship we were singing a song with the idea that through troubles we would be waiting on God. It was in that moment, tears streaming down my face, that I felt deep in my soul that I wasn't waiting on God. I knew, at that very second, amidst loved ones worshiping their God, that there was no one there to wait for. God wasn't coming for me, he had no plans to prosper me, all things were not working out for good in my life. These moments are the scariest, the lowest, and still they are the most real.

This moment, and the others like it I've experienced, are not what I hold in my heart now (in this second at least). But to experience the complete loss of God in my life is to journey to a place I have never known. Jesus has always been there for me. As long as I can remember I have prayed. For the last fifteen years conversations with Jesus have been deep seeded in my mind to down right audible and often. Signs, understandings, revelations have been something I have relied and trusted in for years. Yet in this grief God has been silent, Jesus unseen, and the Spirit within me almost absent-feeling at times. My hope is that looking back on my life I will see God's work in this too, but right now it is unsettling.

With this breaking of faith comes challenges that I am doing my best to not turn away from. I will need to rebuild my faith, and this time it will be with a more open hand. I had my truths held so tightly in my hand had they been a coal I would now have diamond studs to show for it. As I start to reengage with Jesus, as I start to rebuild what was broken within, and as I start to trust again I'm going to choose to place each brick carefully back. In other words, I will give myself grace.

Grace in the fact that I do not know it all (bet Matt wishes he was here to print that statement off, and hold it in his pocket for the appropriate moment:) There are things we do not know while walking this Earth, and in this process I will remind myself that is okay. It is okay to not have all the answers about God. It is okay to hold beliefs firmly (or loosely) enough that a question can be asked without fear, or a conversation can be held without anger. It's okay to understand at a very deep level that we all think we have it right, and likely none of us do. It's okay to hold to ours, but realize that there are things far more important. . .and that is to live life now in fellowship with the people He has given us. To love, and restore, and help, and further, and comfort every person that finds themselves around us.

So I have doubted, doubted deeply. It is a hard thing to do. It makes you feel less than, it makes you fear judgment by those around you, and worst of all is it makes you angry at yourself. And during this journey of doubt I have wondered if this is where it would end for me. Now that these thoughts, this brokenness, has overtook me is this where I was destined to stay? The answer, I'm starting to see, is no. It will, however, change me. Transform me. I have already learned at least one very valuable lesson. The truth of who Jesus was, the sacrifice he gave, and the resurrection are central and need to stay that way, but almost every other piece of truth is up for conversation. I will still hold many truths the same as I always have, but you will no longer find them hidden in a white knuckled fist - they will be held in a hand relaxed, one that beckons for the Spirit to fill it up with the things we can not know. One that loves everyone, regardless of the doctrine in their hand, because loving one another is all I really know how to do right anyway.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Sunday After Friday


Holy Week has always been my favorite time of the year as a Christian, and it seems the more I grow in my faith the more I learn that for me it is not Easter that is so special, but rather Good Friday. There is something so humbling about reflecting on the sacrifice that Jesus gave for us. And that's easy to say, but it is when we take the time to sit in the pain and suffering that he endured we receive a type of clarity in the midst of our confusion regarding his act.

Today was so different. I felt different. I prayed different. I thought different. The fear I shared about Matt was one so entangled in my heart and soul it was eating me alive, more than I could have ever known. To just utter the words; let them seep out onto the keyboard, it gave me freedom I cannot describe. The day brought beautiful things, provisions were shown, and at the end of the day a friend sent me a picture of a rainbow that God had placed not far from my very house. God sent me a promise.

The pain in the Bible is real, it's raw. . .it screams of honesty and truth and frailty. The story of God's promise with Noah is far too often portrayed as a children's story. Animals, a boat, and at the end? A rainbow! Sounds nice, doesn't it? But I imagine Noah would tell you otherwise. Noah had to endure years and years of mocking, abuse, and ridicule. He had to labor over a task far bigger than he was. He had to trust God with every fiber of his being. And then? God killed everyone on the Earth, killed them by drowning. After hearing the screams and terrors of those outside the arc Noah then had to spend the longest year, I'm sure any human has had to endure, on a giant boat with hungry animals, animals who waste was abundant, and noises never ending. He was locked inside this boat with a few chosen family members. They were probably scared out of their minds wondering if this plan would ever work. They were probably at each other's throats constantly. They were, without question, doubting God.

Doubting God. It seems so arrogant in the face of what Jesus did for us. So prideful when we imagine the betrayal of all those who loved him, and the complete abandonment by his followers. And yet, this week, we get to sit with Jesus in Gethsemane. Sit in solitude and pray to God, "Take this cup away from me." I get that Jesus. I feel so deeply that aching for God to make this whole thing go away. But if there is every a time to learn from my savior it was in this moment.

"Yet not as I will, but as you will."

Not what I feel I deserve, but what will glorify your name.

Not what I desire, but what you desire for me.

Not what I want, but what you have planned.

Not mine, but yours.

Not me, but you.

Even when it's hard, even when it hurts, even when the pain feels unbearable, and the confusion is too much to put into words.

I was doing watercolors with Evelyn tonight, and I felt moved to paint Calvary. I'm no artist, but watercolors are too fun for words. I think my hope was to start a conversation with Evie about what Easter is all about. And as I painted that picture I began to think of all he went through for me. I began to feel overwhelmed with love, and humbled by my doubts. Tears began streaming down. The stories of the Bible are full of pain, doubt, anger, questions, fears, and uncertainty. The Father doesn't just get that it is hard. . .he sends us a rainbow to wipe away our tears. To remind us that there is good. To say to each of us that at the end of these earthly burdens his promises still remain.

Romans 8:22,24-25 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. For it is in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Getting to the Root

This post will be hard for Matt's family, my faith community, possibly his friends, and no doubt his children when they are old enough to read through my writings regarding their father. However, I will selfishly claim that there is no one that this is harder for than me. I plead for your understanding, that in this place, I need to write this out. I need to let this go; out from within me, in hopes that I can get at the root of my grief. . .the breaking of my faith. . .and truly the ground on which I stand. I have started, stopped, erased, rewrote, reread, erased, started over, deleted, and repeated writing this post since this blog has started. It will be painful, but here goes.

Matt was not by conservative evangelical orthodox standards 'saved'. There are people who are reading this that might think, 'That isn't true, I was there when he accepted Christ'. Which he did - often. Whenever he would say that special acceptance prayer at church, on the way home I would always ask him about his actions in that. Most often his response would be, 'Well, I felt bad. I wanted to make sure the pastor felt as though they saved someone today.' It was about two weeks prior to Matt's death that we spoke of Christ in his life, it was on January 22. He told me that I shouldn't rush him, that he wasn't ready to accept that Jesus was God, that he didn't want to conform to the laws of the Bible, and that "he needed more time".

He needed more time.

I used a lot of words he didn't use, because as Matt would say, "He could never explain things as well as me." But it's what he said none the less. He did, however, use the exact statement of needing more time. That is the definition of ironic, right?

I would like to first honor my father by recognizing that he gave me peace in the first moments following Matt's death, because this was the first thought that haunted me. He assured me that we are unable to judge another's heart, that where Matt was at in his walk, and where he was in his relationship with Christ is beyond our knowing. He was right. . .and yet, I still wonder if my faith re-evaluation (for lack of a better term) is rooted right here, right in this very issue.

So the way I see it there are only two options for those who stand up and behind those things we hold true . . . 1) Sit across from a 31 year old widow who is broken beyond belief and say, "Don't worry (Matthew 6, right?). Your husband is burning in a fiery hell. He is in complete and utter agony, being tortured, and will remain there for eternity." Or . . . 2) You can lie to me. I may have been the only one, but I knew Matt's true heart condition (some of which I was blind or stupid to until after his death). I know that his heart condition, the God I grew up with, the Bible I believe in fully, does not place him with the Jesus I pick up my cross for daily. And this is why I am SO angry.

I'm angry at Matt for not following me closer in this faith walk I was on prior to his death. I'm mad at myself for not loving him more fully, in a way that would have brought him to Jesus. I'm angry at God for taking him (sorry dad) before he was ready to leave this Earth. . .'ready' from a Christian perspective. I am angry. Angry about just this issue. So angry that I am now questioning e v e r y t h i n g I thought I knew to be true. I could be questioning in search of a false comfort, or maybe I'm questioning because this doesn't line up with the savior I have loved, and have known so dearly, my whole life.

Completely Utterly Ugly Raging Disgustingly Angry.

Here is what is worse. Matt was a great person. He struggled with worldly crap his whole life long. Some of this worldly crap were choices, some were things he was born into, some were things he was born with. But he tried. He tried so hard. He tried hard for me, he tried hard for the kids; that I know. He made people laugh, he made me laugh, his kids laugh. He was fun and energetic, and never gave up on people. He worked hard (although only on things that he wanted to work hard on). He was full of life. . . I would have called it life giving life.

So there you have it. Written out for the world to see. My husband, whom I loved ridiculously, is either burning in Hell. . .or everything I thought I knew as truth was wrong. Welcome to the chaos that is now my mind. I wrote in a previous post about how it felt for me to have my marriage torn. And these two painful realities are intertwined in a very close way. Before Matt's death I felt an unexplainable peace in prayer. I would get on my knees, close my eyes, and invite the Spirit in. I would tell him my worries, requests, and plead for healing for those I loved. Now when I close my eyes and beckon for him I want to talk to him about Matt, but what peace is there in a conversation regarding the eternal torment of my beloved? If God bound us together on Earth, death has torn us apart, and now he is suffering for his lack of surrender to Jesus on Earth. . .how can this not be a lifelong burden for me to suffer as well? (and maybe it just will be)

I have felt God is calling me to explore this fear, or pain, or irreconcilable part of my grief. Now whether he is calling me to help those also in 'need of more time' to understand that there is nothing scary about God's love -- it is GOOD NEWS! Jesus saves, Jesus restores, Jesus brings peace. . .and Jesus is unchanging. He is waiting and ready for you now, don't wait. . .if only for the sake of those who love you.

Or. . . .

Is he calling me to explore the thought that maybe love does win. That maybe the God we serve is bigger than the box we put him in, maybe he is still winning Matt's heart, or that maybe he does desire to reconcile ALL things, including Matt, to him (regardless of how that looks).

I don't know, but I'm not giving up. Things have been extremely hard for me the last three weeks now. I am depressed. I am lonely. I am confused. I am tired, scared, overwhelmed, anxious, and angry. I'm in a place of wanting to get past this, and knowing 'getting past this' is not a choice, but more a matter of time. There is a deep soul awaking within this grief. One that calls me to not let his death be in vain, to listen to my heart and move! I don't know what that movement is yet, and some days I want to ignore it and crawl in bed. But I desire to follow it, to resist the urge to become complacent. I want the reflection of Christ shining through my life, even now, even when the darkness is so thick in my writing it is hard to swallow. My appreciation for just allowing me to share this fear is unexplainable, so thank you.

A song that sings to me right now.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

At A Loss For Words

I'm either at a loss for words, or I'm simply afraid of what words will come out if I start typing. My head, heart, and soul are all speaking different languages right now and I have become nothing short of dizzy. In a previous blog post I spoke of the stages of grief. Originally when I wrote that I took off of the top of my head the five 'standard' stages of grief I had remembered being taught in school. Apparently, much like there are no longer nine planets, there are now six stages of grief. I had ignored that point when I did a Google search then, because at that time I was ignoring this other stage. This other stage is guilt.

Guilt is something that is tearing at my heart in massive title waves, and yet at the same time is so very still and quiet I can hardly tell it's there. Guilt is where all the other feelings end. I feel guilty about being sad. I feel guilty about being angry. I feel guilty about being happy. I feel guilty about being motivated, or being lazy. I feel all sorts of hideous guilt about parenting. Every time an emotion arises, I accept it, move into it, and try to let it wash over me. . .and without fail at the end of that feeling is guilt. One of the things I feel most guilty for in this moment is questioning God.

Those of you who are very close to me know I'm on a journey right now, one that is painful. Some of you might view this as refinement. Some regard it a beautiful transformation. Some, I think, might fear it dangerous. Some of you are unaware I'm on it at all.

This path that I'm walking down is not one that is new to me after Matt's death, but it is certainly something that I had feared ever voicing (apart from with my closest friends) prior to that point. Please understand, that when I say I am questioning God; this is not a statement of questioning my faith, God as creator, or his absolute holiness. I am questioning the God I have grown up with, the God I prayed to before Matt died, the God I have attributed qualities to that I'm beginning to feel unsure I have the power to actual attribute. In some ways the God I knew before Matt, died with him. And yes, I understand that is a scary statement. What I am going through right now in my faith is just that. . .scary.

There is something amazing happening through this process though, and it brings me to Galatians. Here are a few passages that stood out (but the whole thing is worth a quick read;)

2:20 'For I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me'

3:28 'There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus'

5:14 'For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF'.

5:22 'But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.'

6:2 'Bear one another's burdens'.

During a sermon I listened to today from Revolution Church, Jay Bakker made a comment in regards to bearing the image of Christ. He said, "It's saying to someone, I'm willing to take a risk for you because you're worth it." Because you're worth it. . .Because maybe even I'm worth it? Isn't that truly a desire we all hold dear to our hearts, wondering if other people think we are worth the risk? The thing is we all know we are broken, we all know we are sinners, we all know we will let you down. . .and worse? We all know we aren't worthy. And I'm standing here today because despite the darkness I'm enveloped in right now, there are people in my life who for some crazy reason seem to think I'm worth the risk.

Those people. . .the ones praying for me, talking with me late into the night, searching for people around me with the answers, and for those seeking people for me to just ask more questions . . .those people are a testimony to Christ. These people are bearing Christ in a way I have never seen before. They are being Christ in a way that I want to be desperately.

I don't want to find an answer to who is right or wrong on this journey, because I don't think it matters. I think what matters is who we make feel worthy of the risk to love. I wonder what would happen if we would start treating each person we crossed paths with, or each of our friends, or each of our family members as if they just incurred a devastating loss in their life? What if we treated each other with the tender care, kindness, and respect a widow gets treated? One thing I have learned already is that loss comes in all shapes, sizes, and under a lot of names. Divorce, losing a job, sleep deprivation, becoming an empty nest-er, friendships that have ceased, death of all sorts. . .the list goes on and on, some are bigger than others, but they all create pain, they all create a hole in our soul. And that hole needs to be filled.

And what that hole is filled with perhaps isn't always the Spirit (and perhaps it is), but perhaps it is a friend who understands your pain and just remains in that darkness with you without judgment or shying away, or the person who shows up at your door when you didn't answer the phone, or the couple who watches your kid for a couple hours when they know you need it, or the people who volunteer to deliver meals at church, or the friend who takes you out just because they know you need to get prettied up, or the people who give their time and resources to you because they know it is needed. Christ is showing up in my life all over the place right now, and I am so grateful for that. But he is not showing up in his word, or in worship, or in prayer -- he is showing up in YOU.

This is what I long for in my life. I still don't have nearly all the answers I want, and maybe I never will. But I can tell you this: I'm not searching for 'right' or 'wrong', I don't want to be 'in' or 'out', I beginning to not care if I am 'orthodox' or a 'heretic'. . .all I want is to look like Jesus in my relationships with friends and family, and to those people I encounter that I don't know. I want to look like what all my in and out, right and wrong, orthodox and heretic, christian and non-christian friends look like to me right now. . .in this very moment of my life.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I Am Listening

If I have ears then I will hear, is that not what you have told me. When my eyes kept clear then the light will shine, that is if the words I read are true. And through my faith it is you who heals me, like the daughter reaching at your robe. If in my tears I wait on comfort, is it not because I'm the one who mourns. Hungry for bread I can expect the same, since no stone would ever take its place. If I take courage knowing it is you, can you not call me atop the waters. Facing my weaknesses I surrender them to you, and perfected strength is your reply. And when I'm thirsty I won't search for rain, because it is my living water which satisfies. You teach us of a love that lays down ones life, and I long to lay down mine. In our love there is no fear, instead perfection which cast asides my worries. And I will be healed from this as well, . . . . .for it is by your wounds that it is done.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Normal

So the reality of this word has been trying to seep into my conscious for a while now. First, there is the trauma, the shock, and the inital pain which can not be described. Then comes the goodbye, the wake, and the funeral. Then you face the daunting tasks, the needed organization, and the face of how this will work out. After that was the day to day getting out of bed, learning to shower again, and holding on for dear life. And then, for me, it was realizing I must let go of our home Matt so dearly loved, getting it ready to sell, and managing to keep it that way the best I knew how. And then one day I was emptying the dishwasher and it hit me. I had filled the dishwasher. I had filled the dishwasher, started it, and now I was emptying it. Occurrences like the dishwasher happen to me everyday. I gather the laundry, I sort it, I wash it, I fold it, I put it away. Sounds like what I am suppose to do, doesn't it? It sounds normal.

I hate normal. Everytime I am faced with doing something that was normal before Matt died it feels a little like I am ripping off the scab of the wound this loss has given me. I don't want things to go back to normal without him. I don't want to do laundry without his 200 pairs of socks that are there for me to match up one by one. I don't want to fill the dishwasher without his leftover plates crusted in the sink. It feels wrong. It feels lonely.

There is two dimensions to this fate of normalcy that I must endure. First, there is the part of me that wishes it would all go away. I want to be in a new home, in a place where doing these things without him here doesn't feel so empty. And then there is the part of me that never wants to let that go; the part that knows someday when we are in a new house, and I'm filling a new dishwasher I won't remember as clearly what it was like to be his wife. And that part makes me sad, makes me long to stay right where I am, doing the things I used to do when he was still here. This is the fence I'm straddling right now. But there is something cruel to this divide; that is I have no choice.

Even on the days I want nothing more than to lay in our bed, wearing his tshirt, crying in self pity it is not an option. I have two children to care for, a house to sell, a job to hold, and the truth of the matter is I am not dead. I am still alive, for whatever reason God choose me instead of him to take, I must keep going. I have no choice in this.

I have to keep going, not because I necessarily want to, but because I need to. At the funeral we read Ecclesiastes 3, and I'm going back to that book now. I hold the words of this strange book close when things are hard, the idea that Soloman imparted to us, and that is this. . .that in life things would happen. And then he tells us those things, those things that happen, they are meaningless. "Meaningless, meaningless, it's all meaningless." And yet, meaningless or not, there is still a time for everything under the sun. It is such a wondering book, and in my sorrows gives me the kind of comfort that only misery loving misery can know.

Chapter 4 starting in 9 reads:
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?

"But how can one keep warm alone?"

Oh Lord help me, I am so cold. Soloman understood suffering, he understood life here brings pain, and he understood that for the most part everything going on around us is vapor.

V A P O R.

There is something to remember in this though, that this place is a gift from God. That pleasure in work and our toils. . .in drinking and eating. . .that these things are good. And so I can sit at our table, that has one less, and I can enjoy my children. I can enjoy my life that continues to move forward, and I can know that those moments are gifts from God to be enjoyed.

I can also know that my suffering may bring forth good in me. That God might be doing something here.

Chapter 7 Verse 3
Frustration is better than laughter,
because a sad face is good for the heart.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.

I get that more now. I am frustrated, and yet, I am learning. I am being transformed. God is working through me. I don't like it, but refinement is never not easy, never painless. I don't like the form in which it transpired, but I cannot understand the infinite with my mind.

And "So I [will follow Soloman's] commend [to] the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun."

Monday, April 4, 2011

Alone

For the first time since I started this blog I'm sitting down to write knowing that I cannot share my heart fully. That the turmoil I'm feeling within is just too dark to type out. The emotions that are arising are all encompassing, and I am exhausted. I am angry. Angry at God for placing this burden on me. Angry with Matt for leaving me. Angry at myself for believing too deeply, and at the same time for doubting at all. The sky was beautiful all day today. Spring is around the corner, and there is warmth in the air. First the sun breaking through the thick clouds this morning, reminding us that the season will someday turn. Then the huge white clouds floating over head. . .the kind you would stare at for hours as a child trying to decide what they were. Then this afternoon beams of sun pushing through those very same clouds - rays so powerful you can't help but stare at them in wonder. And now, a sunset with so many colors it can easily take your breath away. At each of those moments I heard God crying out to me through His creation. Crying out for me to take notice. Asking me to feel his love, to notice his world. I refused. . .I turned my head. . .I ignored Him. I am just so angry. So angry. I don't want to do this. I want to break down. I want to be able to leave everything behind and just sit in my pain and hurt alone. Or better yet, for someone to just take it away. There is something that is missing from my knowledge about my journey, something I'm not understanding about this path I'm on. It is not beautiful here without him. Life is not beautiful alone. And I am. . .alone.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Time to Grieve

As with some of the many unfair daily realizations a person faces with loss, it seems inhumane that the torment of guilt and doubt must be among, and cover over, every other emotion.

I feel guilty when I grieve too much. . .or too little. I doubt if my emotions are lining up they way they are 'suppose' to be. I doubt my sanity at times (and from someone who doubted her sanity at times prior to my loss you can imagine my uneasiness in the face of this). I feel guilty when I feel good, when a day passes and the images of him from that day haven't been around to haunt me. I feel scared I am losing him, forgetting somehow. I get pangs of fear when I pull inside myself for a moment and feel unsure if I even remember the feel of his skin. . .remember the warmth and comfort that accompanied our touch. I remember how I laughed with him; an unconscious and unhindered joy by simply occupying the same room, but yet I can't remember the words he used to bring those feelings up inside me. I know he filled a room with his presence, for I have told the story of how this was what first brought me to him time and time again, and yet without him here I begin to doubt my story. If Matt could fill up a room by simply entering it, why is there no one else like this? Maybe I simply made the whole thing up.

I fear my sadness, the grieving process itself. The more time that passes, the more real it becomes, and the absolute truth that it will arise within me, and take me over, becomes harder and harder to avoid. I feel at times that there should be a sense of romance to the grieving process. I picture the widow who loved her young husband so dearly sobbing quietly into her pillow it night, their wedding photo near, all while listening to their song. But that is not grief, that is a poorly staged Lifetime movie. My grief of Mattyo is in my gut, it is dark, ugly, and it has no end. The cries that come out from within me are painful, the sound like nothing I've ever known. The anger of why this would happen. The fear of untruth in those who say God's purpose and plan for me will be shown.

I want to believe God's will is for us to live life now, to understand that the kingdom is not somewhere we are going (although we will), but more importantly it is under our feet as we speak. Jesus spoke these words time and time again. Those with ears. . .right? So I'm determined to open my ears to my Savior, open my soul to His Spirit, and open my mind to the possibility that even though life here as it looks right now is not what I would have chosen, He still longs for me to start living eternally in this very moment. I am being refined, we all are. If you feel as though you aren't maybe you aren't listening closely enough. And I'm certain that in order to do this work within me I must grieve Matt. I must allow in the pain that I want so desperately to push away. I must stand firm that eternal life starts here and now. That death here happens, and regardless of whether or not that will change for us in that next place, it does not give us a ticket to ignore our complete refinement in this life.

So, I'll let it in. Ugly, dark, painful. I will lose what I thought I 'knew' certain. I will continue. And when the world seems too overwhelming to handle, I will walk out into my yard, I will take my shoes and socks off, I will sink my toes into the soil, and I will remember. . . .Heaven is going on, right here, right now.