Dan & Kari Straley | Solid Rock

Dan & Kari Straley | Solid Rock

The privilege of grief

I was sitting on the floor of the spare bedroom in our house, going through bins of craft supplies. I was crying. I seem to be doing that a lot these days. It hits me at weird times. Sometimes when I’m sitting in the living room in the morning with my coffee, I look down at the gray couch beneath me and I remember the day we got it. I remember how big of a deal that it was. Since getting married, it was the biggest purchase we’d ever made together. More than that, it was a physical, deep root that said, “we are building a life HERE”. The rest of our things were borrowed or hand-made, cobbled together or easily collapsed into a suitcase. But this couch. THIS meant that we were here to stay.

Or so I thought.

Now today it is my craft bins. Scraps of paper, felt, scissors and glue. Water colors and beads. So many projects I had planned. And this room. THIS was going to be my craft room. I saw a comfy chair in the corner where I could curl up with a book and I was looking for a table or a desk I could move in here to begin creating. I had so many ideas to turn this house into a home. To create memories and gifts for friends. I was almost there.

Or so I thought.

But today each of these things is being left behind. Each has been boiled down to a dollar sign, a chore to sort through or a burden to carry (literally). My life is being sectioned off and sold. My treasures have rummage sale price tags.

I opened the first suitcase. What should I put inside? What are my most precious possessions? I can’t justify a suitcase full of the dollar-store ornaments and decorations that we’ve bought- slowly building our Christmas traditions together and creating a haven for our family and friends over the years. But leaving them hurts more than it should. So I keep one or 2 things and I hope someone will love the cheap multi-colored ornaments and funny foam-covered tree decor that I will leave behind.
Just 7 months ago we opened a crate that had been shipped over the ocean with a digital piano for Dan. I’ve woken more mornings than not to music in my home. Another stake in the ground. Another thing we brought down, knowing in the backs of our minds, it could never come back with us. I wonder if there be money/time/space for music in our next life?
I open a shoe box under my bed with notes from teams. Most of them written in bright markers of high school students with lots of exclamation points. I read the names and I remember every single one of them. I wonder where they are now. I wonder whether their trip truly was “the best week ever”. I wonder what Jesus is doing in them now and whether they ever think about what he taught them here. I wonder if I’ll keep any of these notes. Like a veteran returning from war who tucks his medals in the back of his sock drawer- what will any of this mean in my next life?

This is loss.  Something is ending that I never wanted to end. I didn’t see this death coming and I feel raw with it. This is GRIEF.

And this grief is a privilege.

In the midst of the pain, there are moments that I have thought that it would have been easier if God had told me from the beginning that this wasn’t going to be my forever. I have thought that I wish I would have known to protect my heart. To keep my roots shallow and wide rather than thick and deep. I wouldn’t have bothered to ship a piano over the ocean only to leave it 6 months later.

and yet…

I would have lived without music in my home for those 6 months and my joy would be lesser for it. Because I thought this was forever, it changed the way that I lived. I opened my heart and my home in ways I never would have otherwise. I attached myself to the people next to me. I let their joys and pains become my own. I lived fully here. I LOVED fully here. I fought for friendships, family and community even though it seemed hopeless sometimes. I prayed harder. I listened better. I experienced the JOY of giving myself wholly to this place. Life to the fullest. Full days, full burdens, full contentment, full abandon, full reliance on Jesus, full hope for the future, full bliss of being known and loved.

and now…. full grief.  And oh it hurts.

And yet… What a privilege it is to grieve the loss of something greater than I ever thought I could possess. No matter how much the loss hurts, I would never change the gift of living here to the fullest. It was worth loving. It was worth giving. And it is worth every single tear that I will shed at it’s loss.


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