I told my husband I made up my mind to enjoy every minute of fall. I battle SAD every winter and it’s easy to miss the beauty of fall because I’m worried about the cold weather that is coming. But not this year. I would not let my dread of future, grey days steal the joy of today’s vibrant color. And then in the next sentence I told him I had ordered ear muffs and a light therapy lamp from Amazon. Because you know, winter is coming. He smiled and said, “I thought you were going to enjoy fall and not think about winter.” Well, maybe I am doing some of both.
Lately, life has been a lot of “both” and I’m struggling to know how to carry it all. The headlines scream about death and destruction. But also, my five year old is learning to tell jokes. My soul aches from the pain of a broken relationship. But also, the sky is a piercing, September blue. Beauty mixes with pain. Grief coincides with hope. Fire and ice struggle to exist in the same heart.
I long to separate the two. Wouldn’t they be easier to carry if I didn’t have to carry them together? I imagine standing in front of two, empty cardboard boxes. I drop the fear, heartbreak, and grief into one. The laughter, hope, and beauty go into the second box. I walk away carrying the lighter box.
I am not under the delusion that I’ll never need to carry the heavy box, but for today, I just want to experience joy and joy alone. Joy that isn’t streaked with pain. And then, the day comes when I need to carry the box of pain. I knew it would. I think I’m ready. But when I peek inside, I realize I’ve made a terrible mistake. The darkness is unbearable because I’ve eliminated all the glimmers of light. How can I bear all these thorns with no hope of a rose?
I begin to see it all clear. God allows the hard and beautiful things to entangle themselves because he knows that without the beauty, the hard things would crush us. And yet, knowing the truth in my head doesn’t eliminate the conflict in my heart. I can still feel so torn as I snuggle a sleepy little girl knowing that somewhere else, a mother wonders if her daughter will live to grow up.
Here, at the intersection of “both,” I choose to worship in spite of my bleeding, questioning heart. I trust a God who has a purpose for the pain. I praise a God who scatters stars into our darkest night. I serve a God who holds it all in the palm of his hand. Knees bowed. Hands open to receive both the good and the bad. Because He makes all things good. This is the only path forward. He is God. Not me. For today, knowing this is enough.
Bio: Geneva lives in western Maryland with her husband Chad and her daughters, Vienna and Shiloh. A few of her favorite things are libraries, walks at sunset, and small towns. She writes about books and ordinary life on her blog at genevaeby.blogpost.com. You can also find her on Instagram @onebravethingblog.