Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mixing Grief and Joy

The middle of the week is winding down and I find myself on autopilot.  In of my first official returns to blogging early last month I told 2014 to bring it. In retrospect, maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.

Truth is 2014 is gearing up to be a continuation of 2013 which was simply an extension of its wearisome predecessor 2012. Honestly, I can’t remember the last “good” year I had.  Work is still a blur. I’m still fat. I still don’t have that book keeping business, or that publishing business or a clean kitchen floor and now I find myself dealing with the most aching grief I’ve felt since my dad passed away in 2009. All this in the face of everything I’ve been reading and hearing in my heart when moments are quiet and I look up, praying under my breath for that flood of indescribable joy I know is but a blink away….

Last Friday, one of the most beautiful souls I’ve ever had the blessing to experience, if even on a surface level won her four year fight with the monster that is Lyme Disease. The first time I saw Colleen and her husband was in 2005. It was a summer Sunday morning and I and my family attended a local church called Believers Center for the first time. We were looking for a new home after making a wrenching decision to leave our Lutheran church. I remember we talked about how we didn’t want to go “Pentacostal”, or “large”. We just wanted a quiet small place to disappear maybe on the back row on Sunday morning. I can’t tell you what song was being sung but I do remember that the music was totally amazing and I and my whole family wept through all the songs. We’ve been going to BCA ever since. Along the way, we grew to love Colleen and Jaris and the rest of the worship team like family. It took me about three years to gather the courage to join choir (because I was scared Colleen would actually hear me sing and toss me out) and I still remember one of my first practices when she turned around and said, “I can hear you. It sounds good.” I think I forgot all the words to the songs for the rest of practice. I never lost that sense of awe and respect for Colleen. I keep it in my heart even now as I consider her grace, her tenacity and her impact on others as she battled a monster that just kept coming….

I’ve been so blessed to know other people in her extended family. One of her nephews was the first friend my younger son met at BCA. My older son is close to another nephew and a niece. Her husband Jaris was instrumental (no pun intended) in helping our younger child play bass guitar and Colleen herself mentored our older son in choir and on the Worship Team. We learned to worship watching Colleen and the rest of the worship team and now with her passing, we are learning how deep love and grace can go in the face of loss.

I know so many people would look at Colleen’s passing as failure on multiple levels. Why would a loving God take a beautiful, strong, gifted woman away from her husband, her children, her church family and her circle of influence. Why would He let her suffer? And the worst – where was her faith for healing? Honestly, before 2005 I would have been asking those questions myself. But Colleen and others at BCA have taught me that none of those questions are even worth contemplation. The enduring part of Colleen’s legacy is so evident in those who love her, who have responded with that mix of joy and sorrow knowing she isn’t here, but she WON and is where she always wanted to be, at the feet of her King and Father. Whole and singing and dancing and laughing that huge laugh she had. That love has been on display in the responses of so many, and it is proof that love, not death, is the most powerful force on the planet. We cry because we miss her. And that’s ok. But torment and tears and suffering are all temporary. We are destined for a time and a place where there will be no sorrow, and no suffering. Colleen lived her life like that. I want to live mine like that too.  I hold on to the very real hope that the aching grief will indeed pass and that flood of indescribable joy is only a moment away.  

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