Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Savoring the suffering

Ecclesiastes 7:2-3 It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better and gains gladness.

Let me just put this out there:  I love eating.   Going out to eat, cooking for people, holiday meals, sharing dinner with a friend...all of it.    All-inclusive food in resorts and on cruises? Yes, please.  YES.  I just LOVE it.  I read this Twitter post yesterday and it made me laugh:  "Dear men, Actually our dream isn't finding the perfect guy, it's being able to eat without getting fat. Sincerely, women."  True story!

So, when I recently read Ecclesiastes 7 (after listening to the song story for this song - more on that later), I was confuzzled at first.  Based on experience, the logic struck me as a little strange.   A house of feasting is fun.  But, I've been to the house of mourning on a few occasions.  Not so fun.   When I think of mourning, I think of September 11.  I was still living in NYC on what started off as a perfect Tuesday.  After the planes hit, I saw fear and disbelief on the faces of people in the streets.  I watched those buildings fall with my own eyes.  I know people who lost loved ones.  I know people who survived.  My brother-in-law was a cop who worked down there in the days and weeks that followed.  I have never seen so much mourning in my life as I did in the time following that horrific day.  

But I have also never seen so much hope. I remember that my church was packed for months after that.  Heroes abounded.  Random acts of kindness spread.   New Yorkers were actually nice to each other.  Even though I deeply wish it never happened, that Tuesday changed a lot of people, for the good, forever.  Tragedies have a way of reminding us how short life is.  That's what Solomon is talking in that verse.  Mourning reminds you to live well.  Now. 

Chances are you've dealt with intense sorrow at some point in your life.  There are plenty of things worse than divorce, but divorce is one thing I can speak to.  The sorrow of betrayal is deep.  The humiliation is terrible.  Life is interrupted, lies are exposed and confusion abounds.  Sometimes the hurt is so heavy that it truly is hard to breathe.  If you've been there or in a million other places of pain that doesn't make sense, you know. Yet, I can say this now:  More than three years after the worst of the worst days, I wouldn't trade that pain for the world.  I've never felt closer to God and I've never felt God was closer to me.  Friends surrounded me.  My kids gave me unspeakable joy and most days, they were the only reason I smiled.  That pain helped me more than it hurt me.  It taught me some very valuable lessons about life and love, and made me appreciate times of "feasting".  The tears stung but, like a good cleaning, they scoured my heart (Ecc. 7:3 MSG) and made it glad.

I guarantee you, at the time I wasn't thinking "Phew! I'm glad life SUCKS right now because my heart really needs some scouring!"  I'm not that wise (at all).  Looking back though, I see the good in it.  I see how it's helped me help others and how I'm a better woman and mother for it.  I'm still learning (sometimes the hard way), but definitely an improved Sarah.  

The other day something happened that hurt me. Minor, but it just opened up a lot of other wounds and I found myself sulking around and wanting Ben and Jerry's.  That night I heard the song I've linked to below (which led me to the chapter in Ecclesiastes) and it reminded me that there is no hurt on earth that God can't handle.  And just when you think you can't take one.more.second., the hurt and the Healer collide.  

Whatever you're facing today, as painful as it may be, savor the suffering.  Breathe it in 
deep and know that not a tear is wasted.  Let your heart be glad.  You're alive.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Motherhood Mondays: We all need a reminder

One day she'll wear real heels :(
Oh believe me, I know how it is.  A new morning begins and, as many times as you think today is the day you're going to have it all together, it never quite works out that way. I set my alarm for 5:00 am every day.  Then when it goes off, I roll over and press snooze, thinking all I need is five extra minutes.  Except I need those five extra minutes about 4 times.  Every night I convince myself I will really wake at 5:00 am.  And every morning I press snooze.

My life is full.  Full of craziness, yes.  Full of me losing my temper and coming very near to losing my mind, hell yes.  But it's full of some really amazing things too: contagious laughter, excellent report cards, health, cute preschool songs sung by an even cuter voice, little girl manicures, and not-so-little-but-always-little-to-me boy hugs.  I mean, I really couldn't ask for more.

I read a quote recently that said "The days are long, but the years are short".  Isn't that the truth?!  It made me think of how I spend those long (sometimes very long) days.

I read the blog below today, guest written by one of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp (you can find her actual blog here). Her words challenged me because all too often I find myself missing out on precious moments because I play one more round of Words With Friends, send one more work email, answer one more text message.  The truth is, those things will always be there and there will always be more and more (and more) of them.  These long days though, they pass quickly. It feels like yesterday I was throwing up in what felt like every train station in NYC, living out the disgusting stage of pregnancy that lasted well into the first and second...and third...trimester.  (I also threw up while sitting AT the lunch table with my boss, but I digress). Now that tiny little body that made me barf is about to enter first grade.  Next thing you know, he'll have armpit hair, a cracking voice and raging hormones.  These times are just too special to waste.

I hope this blog inspires you as much as it did me!  Happy Monday!

Why the kids really need a little red hen mama

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