Grief and Joy: Two Companions
Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.
Fall. It’s one of my favorite times of the year. This year I am hoping I will get to watch the Atlanta Braves go deep into the playoff season. In the background, you can hear College GameDay and football playing in the background on Saturdays. I tend to sit on my back porch with a blanket in the morning reading my bible and journaling more than any other time of the year. I love the colors of orange, brown, red and yellow that fills the horizon. I love the short days that allow it to seem cooler in the south than it really it is. Fall is short here in South Carolina, if we have it at all. Yet, I love what the idea of fall means. Family and friends get together to tailgate and celebrate. We have the upcoming expectation of Christmas and a new year being right around the corner. Yet, as much as I love the fall, it hasn’t always been easy and fun. There have been many years that I have spent the fall season grieving. I had to watch my brother bury his two-month-old little girl on a November morning. I have sat beside grandparents watching their health decline in days to lose them suddenly. I have sat in grief and struggled to come out on the other side. Though fall hasn’t always been fun and full of celebration it has always been one of growth in strength and faith.
As I am sitting in my office writing this I look outside and see the tree across the street full of green leaves. Through the spring and the summer, this tree has received the proper nutrients, it has had the sun shining on it and somehow despite the lack of rain this summer it has had enough water to live. During the fall this same tree will start to look different. As the earth starts to tilt away from the sun and temperatures lower the leaves on the tree will start to change colors and a thin layer of cells begin to swell. As the thin layers begin to swell it will cut off the water to the leaves from the roots. As I have walked through grief especially during the fall season, I can find myself doing the same things that leaves do. I have learned walking through the grief that I tilt away from the Son (Jesus) I quickly find myself cut off from everything that gives me life.
Grief has a way of making us feel like we’re isolated. We curl up into ourselves and don’t allow others in. There can be many reasons for closing oneself off. Maybe we don’t want to burden others with the emotions that we are feeling. It could be that we close ourselves off from others so that we don’t have to feel connected to others, and maybe we won’t feel pain if we lose them. When we cut ourselves off from others it’s like when leaves cut the water off from their roots. We begin to change. Recently, I heard one of my favorite speaker/author’s say:
“The best and worst days are not meant to be done in isolation.” ~Annie F. Downs
Yet, when the pain hits we react by closing ourselves from the those that water us with truths that help us heal and flourish.
Joy and grief can exist in the same moments. When we look through the Bible, we see those who repeatedly experienced deep sorrow yet were able to reap with shouts of joy. Such as David, there are multiple accounts of him grieving. Whether it be because of his son Absalom, or his losing his infant child David walked through heartache. In his heartache, he turned the Lord. You can read of his grief and joy throughout the Psalms. In the book of Nehemiah, we read of how Nehemiah wept because of the condition that the walls of Jerusalem were in and how the city celebrated once the walls were finished being constructed. In the very words of Jesus, we read “blessed are those who mourn”. Let’s not forget Jesus, the Son of God, who knew the pain that laid before Him in the cross and yet He counted it ALL joy (Romans 12:2)!
The fall season doesn’t mean the end of a tree. It means it’s time to transition to another season. For some that may mean they may be transplanted to another area where others can enjoy them. Others it means that while there may be nothing beautiful to see above the ground roots are growing deep and storing water and nourishment for the next season. The same goes for us. Grieving is a season that is a vessel to take us to another season. When we bind ourselves to the Lord and others during a painful season, we will get to celebrate with them on the other side! If you are walking through grief cling to the promises in the Bible where you can see that joy can be a part of your season. It is up to us to see the joy that is promised to be our strength!
Contributed by: Danielle Morris