Freedom From the SHOULDS: Permission to be right where you are this Mother's Day and every day...
I know it’s coming. After this many years, I know the routine: Feel sad and irritable--don’t know why...lose my temper, cry more often and feel empty inside...finally remember it’s almost Mother’s Day and I don’t have a mom anymore….swear not to get on social media to be inundated with 1 billion pictures of my friends with their moms…..get back on social media to look at them, longing for just one more moment, one more memory captured forever….give up the fight to be a big girl and willingly climb down into the hole in my heart.
it is the same vicious cycle every year. And every year I think to myself, This year will be different! I have three incredible children and so much to be thankful for! This year it is not about my mom! But then it is ...and I become racked with guilt and shame over the fact that I can be so sad on a day when I should be happily celebrating. But this year I sensed an even deeper question rising to the surface of my heart: How can I feel so sad and empty and lonely when I have Jesus? Living under this umbrella of shoulds and should-nots in our Christian lives could very well be the root of much of our guilt and shame.
You should not be so sad...you have Jesus.
You should not still be so sad...you have Jesus.
You should not feel lonely...you have Jesus.
You should not be depressed...you have Jesus.
So what if you are sad? What if you love Jesus but some days it’s just hard to get out of bed? What if, all in the same breath, you trust Jesus implicitly in your life, but feel at any moment the dam could break and your heart will break into a million tiny pieces?
This is it right here...this is the place where a critical decision is made in your heart and mind: Do you listen to the world telling you to keep God and pain away from each other? To keep focused, keep happy, and press on? Or maybe just maybe you entertain the thought that all this stuff swirling around in your heart and in your head can swirl together. Maybe it’s actually made to be together--to go together, this pain and your God. Maybe just maybe you really are ok.
Today I found myself asking God for a sign that he loved me. Now, I did not think this one through beforehand and honestly was a little shocked that I said it. What audacity to ask for something that has so clearly already been bestowed! But then I realized that in my loneliness I was acknowledging my need for the only one who will never leave me. I was reaching out to God right in the midst of my sadness and by doing so, I was allowing Him into my pain. I gave Him space in my heart to fill the dark clouds that were forming. Instead of giving into the shame of my feelings, I let God in and I think this right here is the sweet spot for beauty and pain--the melding of hope and sadness and pain and joy. When we let God into the hard, the hard grows a tad dimmer and His hope a little brighter. The bad doesn’t always go away but through our turning toward him in our pain we have grown closer to him in our hearts. So there they are together….God and pain, happy and sad--coexisting like just maybe they belong together.
Those of us missing our moms on this day, those of us who long to be mothers and aren’t yet, those of us who are are fighting for joy every single minute of every single day, we are desperate to open our suitcases of sadness and reality right smack dab in front of your eyes. We know we should be happy. We know there is so much for us to be thankful for. We know. But we also need to know that it is okay if we are sad. We need to know we are okay. We need to know that amidst the pain of barrenness and death and sorrow that we can be full of Jesus and still experience such an ache in our hearts that we sometimes find it hard to smile. We need to know it’s okay even if the world says For heaven’s sake, it’s been 20 years! We need to hear it’s okay to feel sad when your heart aches for a child while you are holding another one tightly to your chest. We need to hear that it’s okay because this living in the midst of pain is inherent in our fallen world. There will be pain. But there will also always be Jesus right in the midst of the heartache.
Pain is inevitable, but we only dip our toes into this achey world. No matter how dim our circumstances, no matter how big the hurt, we always have the bigger promise that better is coming. For the kingdom in which we truly belong is in the heavenly realm. We can live in this world without being pulled under by its currents of pain. We can rejoice through our tears! We can praise God as those tears drip down our cheeks and our hearts feel sad because we know He loves us and He is ultimately sovereign. And we can remember that there is a time coming when all those tears and all that sadness will melt away and we our hearts will be full. We won’t ache. We won't long for and we won’t hurt! So we give ourselves permission to cry on happy days and to feel loss even though we are full of Jesus.
Here’s a list I made for myself for Mother’s Day this year:
You have permission to feel sad even though you are full of Jesus.
You have permission to feel sad even though you delight fully in being a mother to your children.
You have permission to be sad on a day when you should be happy.
You have permission to be sad even though it has been so long since you have had a mom.
You have permission to be sad even though the world says move on.
You have permission to be sad and happy all at the same time.
You have permission to ask God to tell you He loves you again and again and again.
No matter how fast we run we will never be able to outrun pain, but may she find us rejoicing in the fields, our hearts full of His HOPE and JOY.