Michelle Bader, my beautiful young friend, is standing watch as her husband is dying of cancer. Michelle’s anticipatory grief for the loss she and her three children will experience is taking her heart on a crazy roller coaster ride these days.
They’re a guaranteed part of life while we inhabit this spinning globe. They’ll look like betrayal and cancer and infertility and divorce and Alzheimer’s and loss of a loved one to death, to drugs, to mental illness.
They’ll leave us feeling run over by a Mack truck. And we won’t be able to imagine—through the pain—that our hearts will ever be whole again.
And then there are the sweet seasons of life. (I wonder, do we enjoy the sweet seasons more because of the hard ones?)
So the question is, how can we fully inhabit all the moments—sorrowful and sweet—that are contained within our unique, extraordinary, far-reaching lives?
I think Nanea Hoffman may have touched on part of the answer:
For the week ahead: May you practice patience, forgiveness, or failing that, silence. May you ignore nonsense and provocation.
May your coffee, your resolve, and your Wi-Fi be strong, and may you face your challenges with honor, grace, and chocolate when necessary.
And always, may you notice the small moments of beauty.
Consider these 3 ways to embrace and live fully in life’s moments:
1. Release any pain or sorrow to God.
What if we could give our pain and sorrow to the One who never promised that life would be perfect, but who did promise to be with us during the hard and holy moments? We can.
Be strong and courageous … for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you. — Deuteronomy 31:6
Lean into God. Take a deep breath. Relinquish.
2. Allow joy in.
Michelle and her kids recently adopted a new family member. Bentley.
Bentley is energy wrapped up in a puppy.
It’s not necessarily practical to take in a puppy while dealing with terminal cancer and hospice care. But, oh the joy Bentley has brought to the Bader household in the middle of their anticipatory grief.
If we’re in a sorrowful season, consider how we might allow joy into the middle of it.
3. Pay attention to the simple pleasures.
A friend and I have been hiking and snowshoeing and paying attention to the small moments. Like, the beauty of this natural rock castle …
… and this soft-serve vanilla ice cream cone, plopped down in the middle of a snowshoe trail …
… and the simple pleasure of sharing roasted nuts with the bold gray jays (a.k.a. camp robbers).
Although I’ve known deep sorrow and loss, I happen to be in the middle of a sweet season.
And I want to be wholly present in this moment—with this friend, on this dirt trail, on this snowy path, as we work side-by-side to make life a little better for others.
What if, when we’re asked to do without, we could notice the small moments of beauty and aliveness?
What if we could pay attention to the simple pleasures that make up our exceptional lives?
What if, in the middle of dealing with the challenges, we could make room for joy?
Speaking from experience, we can. Oh, yes, we can.