Stephen’s Tension

I hope everyone’s Christmas was grand and safe. Here in Minnesota it was an odd day of weather that at times was a bit dodgy.

Since getting to the twin cities it has been an interesting series of up and down events. My grandmother, my mom’s mom, has taken a bad turn. She’s been declining in health for awhile, due to Alzheimer’s and Dementia and other things. But in the last week she has become near unresponsive. My dad’s mom also, on Christmas Eve fell and broke her hip. She then was taken in and had hip surgery on Christmas Day, which happens to be her birthday.

Then there is just all the running around. All the family stops. We have done eight get togethers in five days. Though tiring, it’s been very good to see family. If there was any doubt to my introvertedness it has been put to rest, but overall we’ve enjoyed our time with friends and family. I wouldn’t trade this time for anything. It has been a time filled with fun and games, story telling, food and drinks. Doesn’t get much better than being in one room with all the people you know and love and seeing that if only for that moment they are doing alright. 

In the midst of all the laughter and joy there has been that thing looming in the background. All families have there things, the grandmas, the hard stuff and hard relationships, the family dynamics, the tensions. So what gives? How can there be this tough stuff, this grief right next to this joy? How can there be this laughter and right next to it tears of sorrow and hurt relationships?

Not sure if you know this but December 26th is St. Stephen’s day. The day after Christmas. I’ve always thought it an odd place for St. Stephen’s day, we celebrate God leaving all power and authority and becoming a little baby to save our butts from ourselves. And the very next day we celebrate a guy who was killed by rocks after telling people about this God with us, Emmanuel, Jesus a baby, grown, killed and risen again. Talk about tension.

What the crap?

I’ve been talking to a friend of mine, over text mainly, so you know not real talking but a proper millennial conversation about just this, tension. Over and over we go through tension don’t we? I don’t even think you need to be a follower of Jesus to experience the tension, it’s there all around us. And over and over we try to resolve it. We hate it! We hate the idea that somethings are not resolved. We want to draw the lines, we want to go to one side or another. And too often we end up throwing out the good stuff with a little bit of “bad” stuff, or in an effort to not minimize mine or others pain, a whole lot of “bad” stuff. I’ve heard from many different people how much 2016 has sucked, I’m starting to see what they are feeling. There has been tons of loss, tons of grief. 

As I’ve grieved leaving friends and community in Duluth, right behind it I’ve felt the joy of new adventures. It’s so interesting. I see so many people fall on one side or another, they forsake one for the other. They get stuck in grief or sorrow and see it victimize them. I’ve done it. I’ve also used the joy to blind me to reality. 

But I’m learning to not let go of either. In my grief I am learning to experience Jesus in the depths of me I did not know I had. I have gotten to know the Man who experienced such deep sorrow in the garden, or as He was beaten and mocked and killed. I have wept with Him in my grief, as I have watched those close to me die, eaten away by cancer, Alzheimer’s, drugs, alcohol, and I am held by Him, and He has wept with me as He wept over Lazarus at his death, and in the end showed us why Paul’s words are so true, “We do not grieve without hope.” That grief has been rekindled as I have grieved my friends and community I am leaving, it has brought to the surface unprocessed grief from my past. So there is a choice, continue to ignore, or dive right in.

Yet isn’t it odd, that as we grieve we also began to encounter the other side of the coin. That the laughter seems a bit brighter, the joy a bit louder, and the connection with other humans just that much more intimate. We are fickeled creatures, us earthlings. We try so hard to grab ahold of the sides, drown in our grief or hide in our joy. But at least in this case I think the contrast helps define the image. Do not hear me say grief is here to stay. As one who believes in Jesus one day I believe grief will be obliterated. In the meantime I will not waste the moments. If we will experience this tension now, then I will use it. Use it to position my heart to encounter and experience the only One who can make it all worth while.  

I had fully intended on talking more about joy in this post, it’s not that I don’t have it, I’m just working on holding onto it. If it was easy they wouldn’t call it tension. I pray your able to hold onto the joy and that you don’t run from the grief either.

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Prayer needs
– some part time work in the Twin Cities

– that god provides for our finances while we are in between jobs

– that we undertake the Visa process wisely and quickly
Financial needs 
– we are raising some finances for our landing in England between visa costs, health care surcharges, deposits and unexpected things. 
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