Tag Archives: joy

As laughter and tears collide

Our hearts are as heavy as they are light,* and it feels contradictory–a great paradox. But who hasn’t laughed through tears or felt their highs mix in with their lows?

This weekend I cried tears of sadness intermingled with tears of joy. Laughs were indistinguishable from the few sobs that escaped my pursed lips. Memories brought on floods of emotions from opposing sides and met in a wave that threatened to knock me over. And it’s hard to reconcile the highest of highs existing simultaneously with the lowest of lows. It feels like the existence of one should diminish the substance of the other–like the smiles mean I don’t feel the grief, or the tears mean I don’t cherish the memories.

But what if the existence of both further substantiates the other? What is joy, if we have no sadness to contrast it with; and what is redemption, if we see no brokenness from which we yearn to be redeemed?

I’ve felt grief and laughter that falls hollowed out and empty. I’ve seen death. I’ve seen the grave. And through it all, I’ve seen a hope that’s stronger.

It’s a hope that does not trivialize my grief, but a hope that is substantiated by its existence. It’s a hope that creates in me a deeper longing than ever before, because…

I now know for what it is I hope.
I hope for no more crippling pain, no more tears, no more despair, and no more death.
I hope for redemption of our broken bodies and our sinful pasts.

And it’s not a trivial wish–a “that would be nice”–but a deep longing for a Savior and a heavy realization that I am in a world that needs to be saved.

It’s looking into the grave of a man I love and clinging to the hope that this is not the end. It’s seeing cancer and sickness and pain and looking expectantly to a day when our weakness will be no more.

My father spoke this Saturday at my grandfather’s memorial service and declared that this is not a “hope that” or a “hope so,” but a confident expectation. This hope is faith–true faith, grounded faith–the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.

It’s a hope founded on promises that have been fulfilled and lives that have been changed. It’s founded on glimpses of redemption, reconciliation and transformation–in my own life and the lives of those I love.

So this hope is not trivial. It’s not a fairy tale or a shallow illusion. If despair, depression and death are real, I hold that hope is real even more.

I looked into the grave of a man I loved this weekend, but I have the confidence that I will see him again. Because while I know the pain of death and suffering, I know the joy and the promises of the One who overcame the grave. I know that in this world, he promised tribulation. But I also know that he told me to take heart, for He has overcome the world.

I know that nothing can separate us from the love that is in Christ Jesus–not death nor life nor things present nor things to come, nor anything in all of creation.

And I know that one day my hope will find its confident expectation fulfilled, because:
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Though tears will fall, though grief is real, my voice cries hallelujah for the hope of heaven and the day when all will be made new.

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See you soon, grandpa.

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*Heavy and light is an idea I heard first from To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) at their recent Heavy and Light show. It was an amazing show by an organization I admire.

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A Longing Unfulfilled

Some moments are so beautiful that you almost find yourself dreading their passing before they’ve even ended.

You sit and soak it all in, because you know this is all you have. You can’t bottle it up. A picture can never convey the way you feel in this moment—complete, content, satisfied.

If you told me to think of one of these moments, I could flash back to several in my mind. Moments I tried to capture, but couldn’t—not fully.

I remember one Christmas season in particular. I was home on winter break from college. It was Christmas Eve and we were all opening presents, as is tradition in my family. I remember hearing the Christmas music, noticing the glow of the Christmas lights, and watching all my brothers and sisters open their gifts.  Sitting there on my fold out bed in the middle of the living room, I just remember feeling so content, so full. But I also felt a strange pang of sadness, because I knew that moment had to end—that life would not always feel that way.

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Because, sometimes life is made up of other moments—moments of longing. Times when you look back on those moments of contentment, trying to grasp them—to make them materialize into something real and concrete. If you can grow them, just maybe, they will fill you. Maybe… you will be satisfied.

I know this feeling all too well. When things get hard or stressful, I live in those moments. Today, I spent a good ten minutes or so just looking through my dad’s pictures, wanting to be home and missing my family. I’m a trained expert in nostalgia, flashing back through my Rolodex of photographic memories at every whim. In a moment, I’m back.

But back where? I’m inside a memory, and a false one at that, painted over with a golden hue and infused with the emotion I’ve given it every time I’ve recalled it.

Our memories are not bad. We should remember Christmases with our families, the good parts of a relationship, and the beautiful parts of a growing friendship. There is beauty in those moments, but the beauty doesn’t come because those moments last.

Polaroid at the Beach
The beauty comes because those moments are fleeting. They are for a second and you will never get them back; but for that glorious second, you can catch a glimpse of glory. In that moment, you can catch what it feels like to belong, to be loved, to be full and complete, filled and overflowing in every way.

And those glimpses are beautiful because they point to a time when we will be complete.

Our families on earth are not perfect, but we know what it’s like to long for that. We know what it’s like to cling to the moments that are good and block out the memories that hurt. We know what it’s like to want to belong and what it’s like to long for home.

We know what it’s like to long for a relationship or a friendship. We want to know someone and be known. We want to know that, at the core of who we are, we are truly loved and accepted.

Our longings are strong. Sometimes we choose to feel them, sometimes we choose to deny them, and sometimes we run to fill them with something that can’t hold the weight of our heart.

When I feel these longings—the cries of my heart to be accepted, to be loved—I remember the one place where I have been truly loved and recklessly pursued. I remember that Jesus chose to give Himself for me while I was deliberately and intentionally hurting him.

I remember that he adopted me and calls me daughter.

I remember that he gave me grace and freedom from the things that enslaved me.

I remember that he pursued me with a reckless abandon.

I remember that He created me and knows me more fully than any human ever could.

He knows me, the real me, the worst parts of me…

and yet…

… He still loves me.

He calls me home and that is where I belong. Every desire I have that is unfulfilled, every pang of loneliness I feel will be met in Him one day. He has given me friends and family, joy and beauty, in this life; but it doesn’t end here.

I rejoice in my unfulfilled longings, because they point me to a day when I will finally exclaim, “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…Come further up, come further in!”*

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“I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy. The most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” – C.S. Lewis

*From ‘The Last Battle’ by C.S. Lewis, his seventh book in the Chronicles of Narnia series

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We Are All Broken

Hey, can I tell you a secret? … I’m not perfect.

Well, I guess that’s obvious. But you would think it was a secret by the way I try to hide it–the way we all try to hide it from time to time, “Instagramming our perfect life.” What you see on my instagram is smiling pictures and exciting adventures in Europe. What you don’t see is “Hey I know I’m studying abroad in Spain but I accidentally woke up at 2pm and won’t leave my room for the rest of the day.”

What you see on my blog is lessons that God has been teaching me and conclusions tied up in a pretty bow. What you don’t see is me ignoring those lessons and falling flat on my face over and over and over again.

I’ve had people come up to me and compliment me before, telling me I’m perfect. They tell me they’ve had discussions with other people about how perfect my life is. Now, I am blessed. I can’t deny that. But I, as a person, am so incredibly far from perfect.

There’s a quote that says “Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn’t really matter.”

And this is my fear:

My fear is that I will succeed at appearing perfect because If I do, I have failed at displaying the gospel in my life–that Christ would give his life for an imperfect person like me–for a broken girl who has done absolutely nothing deserving of his love.

If I appear perfect, people will think that that’s what it takes to earn God’s love–that they need to get their lives together BEFORE they come to Christ. NOTHING is further from the truth. 

It’s so easy to only show the strong parts of my life, to only show the little revelations instead of the gaping questions.

It’s a pride struggle sometimes. I don’t want to cry in front of people or let them into certain parts of my life. I don’t want them to see me curled up, crying on my bed over heartache. I don’t want to keep telling people the same prayer request, because I think, “Well, by now, I certainly should be over that struggle.”

I want to help you with your pain, but I don’t want to let you see mine.

And through every tiny success at appearing perfect, I’m failing in a big way. I’m failing to tell you that Jesus Christ changed, and is changing, my life in a radical way. I’m failing to tell you that I did nothing to earn it. I’m failing to tell you that, on my own, I’m broken and I can’t do this on my own.

This isn’t meant to be depressing. It’s meant to be realistic. The joy I have is real. The forgiveness I have is real. However, if I’m not honest with people about my heartbreak, my joy seems trivial. If I’m not honest with people about my failures, no one will know from what I’ve been forgiven.

And, if we’re all honest with ourselves, we know there are things that bring us to our knees. We all have questions we can’t answer and heartbreak we can’t heal.

But, in the midst of all the questions, I know this: I know that “While we were still sinners Christ died for us.” I know that he rose again so that we could have “life and life more abundantly.” And I know that he’s the only one who can pick up these broken pieces and make us whole.

And I know He loves you–all of you, not just the parts you wrap up in a pretty bow.

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