Do you remember Pollyanna? It's a story about a little girl who turned a town upside down with her "glad game" - her positive thinking and looking on the bright-side in any situation. Even the grumpiest of grumpies in that town took to liking the little girl and were changed for the better. Kind of like Footloose but ... no dancing.
So, the glad game. I think the glad game is what Scripture would call thinking on what is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and of a good report (Philippians 4:8). And let me be the first to stand up and say this sort of thinking is the only thing that brought me through my trial with Evie and the only thing that keeps me on track as I anticipate losing Kate - staying thankful and forcing my mind to focus on the good. It's the very thing that keeps me from crossing over into really dark places. It's crucial at times like this. And I love Jesus down to the hemoglobules (that's a thing, right?) of my tiniest red blood cells and am thankful beyond thankful for His work on the cross and the promise of Heaven. I believe it, I'm sold, my name is on the dotted line.
But sometimes I get really tired of pretending like the good and positive side is all there is. Because, even after all the thanks and positivity, there is still a very real situation in which I will, once again, have to live life without a much-loved and much-wanted daughter. It will really happen and I will really have to walk that path. For real.
They say the first step in overcoming addiction is admitting you have a problem (Hello, my name is (blank) and I'm an alcoholic). It's out there in the open, no question, and then you can move forward with progress and healing. I feel like the same concept holds true for grief.
As Christians I think we can be discouraged from admitting the whole entire hard truth about hard things in life. I don't think this is the way to go about it. I think we need to call it like it is. And then we can move fully forward to accepting the painful circumstance as part of our life story and specifically pray about how to live with that piece of our heart damaged. When people say things like, "well at least you still have _______", or even "you know God is still in control", it feels dismissive of the actual part of you that actually has to deal with that thing. It hurts. And I know in my heart that can't be the entire answer.
So I say, call it like it is. Admit the real problem. Allow yourself to acknowledge what one blogger called, the "profound suckness" of your situation. I'll go first ...
Hi, my name is Sarah. I lost my daughter before she even had a chance to come home from the hospital. In a few months I will be doing it again. I will never have the joy and privilege of seeing these girls grow up in my home and parenting them with all the love in my heart. Those thoughts make me want to scream and punch a hole in something. And throw up.
There it is, the real, hard truth. And I'm not afraid to admit it because I know God is big enough to handle that. His power can completely carry me through the hard road ahead. But I think a crucial step is being 100% honest about what that hard road is and how hard it is.
Friend, if you're struggling today, I encourage you to admit exactly the hard thing you are facing. Let your sorrow last for the night. And then make the choice to embrace the joy that comes with the morning.
I have come to believe that both are very necessary.