Our Georgia summer is hot and steamy but often includes ample rain storms.
Some days they chase us from the pool with thunder and quilted skies. Other days the clouds pour buckets while the sun shines brightly. Yellow light beams down. Drops Fall.
Sun and Rain. Rain and Sun.
This is my favorite variety of storm; the unexpected.
The air is heavy and humid and standing in the rainshine seems completely ridiculous. But for me, it’s an exercise in remembrance. A happy reminder that the sun and rain don’t always step aside for one another. As if the sun missed the part about the rain’s solo— and refuses to wait in the wings.
I need to be reminded of this very thing the rainshine teaches me. Because there was a time not so long ago, that I realized the truth of the “and.” It was some months after I lost a baby. And then again three years later I lost another. In between the two griefs I became someone with a lap completely full. We danced around filling sippy cups and dodging cheerio landmines and there was nothing lacking from our joy.
Nothing at all.
But. There was a tiny piece of pain. Toddler fingers held out weed bouquets and soothed things I couldn’t touch. Still the ache took time to fade into a soft memory. For a long time there was both laughter, and pangs of remembering.
Do you know how it feels to hold both?
Maybe you are now holding both joy and grief in your two uncertain hands.
Or perhaps you swallow lumps of grief— but joy is still on the way.
We know that they often take up residence on the same block. Pain does not always overshadow joy; neither can joy completely squash pain.
The hope that “it will not always be so” is a great one. But even that bright glittering hope, does not remove the ache.
And we can often forget that joy and grief are not enemies.
We expect that if we are strong enough, Christian enough, brave enough— we can elect to feel only the joy and not the pain.
But the essence of our true hope is not that. It is a both/ and hope.
The joy that hopes in what will be — but feels the sting of what is still on the way.
It is a gift. This joy of the both/and. Both hardness and blessing. Both fear and courage. Both happiness that bubbles over in belly-laughs and sobriety that sees evil. Evil that threatens to choke the hope out of us all.
We may be incandescent in our joy. Light may spill from every corner of our day. Or we may have to stand in the pouring rain to look up and find the light. Rarely is it one or the other.
We know so great a hope in Christ and still we will feel the cares of the world. They wind up around our feet as we walk. They snatch and grab at us, like the Devil’s Snare plant in Harry Potter. Devil’s Snare hated the light too, remember? Keeping pain in dark places of shame feeds it.
Friend, might we walk with one another in this?
When we hide our grief, we buy the lie that pain is greater than joy.
We cannot expect ourselves to fully feel one, without some shards of the other.
There is a fulfillment of hope which is still waiting in the wings.
You can grieve. You can grieve right alongside glory.
Acknowledging pain will not remove the joy of what is, and what is to come.
But it has not come fully yet.
And so we wait in the weight of waiting.
And we love greatly and keep our eyes open for hope.
We tip our chins up to the light, even if it means a few raindrops on our cheeks.
We can bravely hold what is too much for us to hold alone.
Because it will not always be both. Someday we will only know the hope that did not disappoint. Not the hope that we got exactly what we wanted; the reality of the hope that was worth waiting well.
The hope that we are promised— we will know He only gave us truth.
And that when we waited, we never waited alone.