Last week I met with several congregations to talk to their leadership about their future. In one meeting, a wonderful woman was frank and vulnerable as she talked about how she was fully supportive of the future for her church, yet still she grieved what was no more.
Grief married to joy is a genuine experience in so many areas of our life that it is a healthy thing to acknowledge:
- Our children grow up healthy and strong, but they grow up. They don’t need us as much as they once did, and, though there is joy in the people they are becoming, there is also grief. We miss the people they once were and will never be again.
- Friends text and email and Facebook us every day, and it is great to hear from them, but don’t you miss opening a letter from home and slowly savoring each detail?
- Wanting something and being able to go buy it is a great advantage that many of us have. Oh, we probably can’t buy the very best, and we can’t buy everything. Still, few needs go unmet for most of us, but don’t you miss the days when you had to sacrifice or save for something? Better yet, don’t you miss opening a present and being moved to tears because someone gave you something you actually needed?
Life changes, and most of the changes are good. There is still a loss, though, and we ignore the grief of those losses at our own peril. It is normal and healthy to sit with a card that your lover wrote so tenderly all those years ago. If it brings a tear to your eye then that love is still alive, even if you have both moved on.
Yes, things change, and celebrating the growth and changes is right and good. Still, don’t be too hasty to discard the experiences of what was. The past has its joys, too. It is okay to grieve that things are no longer the way they were, because our grief is a powerful sign that what used to be also was good in its own way.
Give others, and yourself, permission to grieve. If we do not, our subconscious just might sabotage us to prevent us from moving on too cavalierly without honoring the gifts that were.
Don’t cling to the past. Don’t resist the changes the future holds. Celebrate and honor them both, because that is the only way to be fully alive in the present.