An uninvited guest showed up on my doorstep this week… The Thanksgiving leftovers had been eaten, given away or frozen; the Christmas decorations were up… and we were three days into our Jesse Tree tradition. And suddenly, there was Grief… uninvited, but refusing to be ignored. Tapping me on the shoulder and whispering into my ear… “Remember me?”
It had been a while… and I had forgotten how commanding a presence this uninvited guest can have… how duplicitous: one moment, a strident voice piercing any other conversation, the next moment a sullen shadow lurking in corners. I had forgotten that Grief must be greeted… engaged… given a seat at the table… how Grief must be listened to and even appreciated… how the energy required to ignore Grief is better spent being hospitable…
This will be my 12th Christmas without my Mom, the 7th without my Grandfather, and the first without my Grandma. Grief has visited at different times and in different ways… and has stayed for different amounts of time. But this time, something new is happening when Grief visits.
In this past year, I have learned much about joy and the way joy can heal… the way that joy can transform the brain. “Joy is being with someone who is glad to be with us,” says Jim Wilder. There is only one person who can always be glad to be with me… And as I build joy in relationship with Immanuel, I build capacity to fully live… and to entertain Grief. (more on this in future posts)
And so, as Grief makes its first appearance this season, it is different. Rather than dominating, Grief is sitting beside Joy… and God is with us… the Joy of the Lord, becoming my strength (Neh. 8:10).