more than okay

Sometimes I’m just sad. And not only because Harrison and I don’t have everything we wanted out of life at this point. I’m sad because it’s not that weird to me. Let me explain. Many people I know live what I call the “conventional” life. They get married, they excel in their careers, they have babies, they build a three bedroom house and grow old and die in their 80s. But that’s not the world I’m living in. Not anymore at least.  No, these things are what make up my world…

A friend of mine from college just passed away last week from a brain tumor. She left behind a young husband, now a widower in his early twenties.

My grandmother sets one plate on the table for each meal now instead of two. That really breaks my heart. She’s totally alone.

Several members of my family struggle with mental illnesses that can be just as debilitating as physical ones.

Another friend of mine has a disease no one can cure and lives in constant physical pain.

My neighbor just asked my family and me to take care of her husband when she’s gone. She got bad news this week that her cancer has spread and she doesn’t have much time.

I know parents who lost their children years ago and still, they hurt more every day.

These things hurt, and I’m sad the hurt feels normal to me. And then there’s my beloved Harrison with so much to offer the world yet he’s trapped in his own body. Every night after I put him in bed, I have to find something to busy my mind so I don’t have to think about how much I miss his laugh or his arms around me or our conversations. But tonight I just sat down and started thinking and writing. Sometimes the hurt just spills out when I least expect it, and reality hits me in waves.

This is your life….boom.

This is your life….crash.

Sometimes I wake up in the morning expecting to hear Harrison grinding his coffee beans or feel him kiss me goodbye through my sleepy fog, but it all feels like a dream of a life we never had now. All these things feel like more than I can take.

Five years ago, one of my friends was killed in a car accident. That was my first introduction to the kind of hurt I feel now. I was angry with God because I couldn’t understand why He would let that happen. How could He let that happen? I was mad and confused for a while, but then I began to understand something both troubling and reassuring.

Bad things just happen. Bad things happen, and I’m not immune.

Because of sin and evil, the world is chaos. People get hurt, they get cancer, they lose their children, they lose their lives. I believe God makes beautiful things out of the terrible, and I’m thankful for that, but I also acknowledge the deep pain that I and others experience every day. It’s something that’s hard to forget about during this time in my life. Bad things happen and people hurt deeply.

I started wondering what it would be like if God answered all the world’s prayers the way people wanted Him to. Isn’t that what we expect of Him sometimes? Heal this cancer, save this baby, don’t let this mother of three children die. But you know what I discovered? If God answered our prayers the way we wanted every time, life would be a lot like Heaven. If God never let a bad thing happen to anyone, maybe we wouldn’t value the opportunity of eternal life in a place where there is no sorrow, evil or chaos as much as we do. So now when I pray, a prayer for Harrison and me is not sufficient. It wouldn’t satisfy me enough to have our life back to normal because that doesn’t fix the bigger problem. No, my prayer should be “Lord, come back soon. I’m ready for restoration for all. I’m ready for love and light and abundant life with you and with my cherished friends and loved ones.” I don’t just want the life the world can offer me. I want it all. I want Heaven. I want freedom. I want to see my friends again and meet my grandmother for the first time. I want all the people in pain feel it no more. I want to watch Harrison dance. I want to see God and thank Him face to face for all the things He’s given me. I want to experience the love and joy we’ll all share.

And as excited as I am to look forward, I have to remember to stay present. I firmly believe that if you have breath in your lungs, God has a special plan for your life, and I’m one of those people still breathing. Harrison is, too. Our life is purposeful, and we’ve got to do our jobs. Even though we struggle and want to give up sometimes, we have to run, with perseverance, the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1). We have to keep going. We were given THIS life, and now we’ve got to do our best with it. God will take care of the rest, and I believe it will be part of a beautiful plan. And one day we’ll hopefully get to see the fruit of that plan and find joy in knowing we never suffered in vain. As for now, we will keep at it. We will count our blessings and we will see God work in our lives. And when the going gets tough, we’ll help comfort others the way the Lord comforts us, by pointing them to Christ and to the beautiful life God has offered us all. We’ll remind them there’s more than this, and that we have renewed life, light and love through Jesus both now and forever. We are going to be okay, y’all. We are going to be MORE than okay.