I’m having a moment to recognise how much grief there is – in me and around me.
This weekend, I was meant to be in Perth for a full 3 days of ministry. These are the things I love. Seven different workshops and preaches across three days to multiple different groups. The opportunity to invest in leaders who are engaging in Generations ministries across a number of churches. The privilege to be God’s voice of direction, correction, encouragement, inspiration or blessing as I deliver the messages He placed on my heart to bring.
But instead, I spent too many hours wrestling technology and sound and lighting and recording and editing and uploading … a whole lot of things that have absolutely zero to do with my gift and skill set! And I found myself becoming frustrated as every minute I spend on those things is a minute I’m not working on what I’m really being asked to do. Every ounce of energy and thought and focus spent watching to see that the screens were sharing correctly and the sun wasn’t shining on me in a weird way and that the delivery truck out the front of my house wasn’t going to start reversing and have its sensors beeping into my audio feed … had the potential to draw me away from the content I was delivering and the moment I was trying to hold for the people I was recording for.
And the people! Oh wow, do I miss the people!? I love the moments of exchanged encouragement – waiting in the coffee line, washing hands in the bathroom, sitting at a lunch table, in prayer response and worship. I miss the points of connection as we realise we share mutual friends, or similar life journeys or an interest in Disney movies or the work of Patrick Lencioni. I miss seeing the faces of people as I’m speaking. The nods of affirmation, that eyebrow-up-head-tilt-back movement that signifies an “aha moment” – the laughter over a mispronounced word or some other self-deprecating joke, the bent heads over notebooks that make my heart leap to know that God has nudged them in a personal way – “That’s for you! Remember that!”
And I’m also sad that I’m not in Perth! That for the second year in a row I haven’t been able to visit my friends there or see the beautiful beaches and sunsets or have my retreat time at Hilary’s Harbour. I miss being on the plane and going somewhere. I miss exploring new places and meeting new people.
And that’s just today.
More broadly, I’m missing meals and games nights in people’s houses and meetings in real life. I’m tired of rescheduling and cancelling and “waiting to see” and adjusting and reducing. Living in a relatively new town (I was here barely 4 months before Covid kicked in), I feel like I’m losing momentum on developing new relationships and routines. My friendship circle is shrinking. The freedoms of living regionally are overshadowed by how many of my people are on the other side of the ‘ring of steel’. My calendar mocks me with a holiday scheduled for last May that has been bumped and bumped and will likely just end up cancelled. I miss what psychologists term “collective effervescence”. The sense of “energy and harmony people feel when they come together in a group around a shared purpose” – the raucous laughter, the passionate exchange of ideas, the robust search for creative outcomes, reminiscing and story telling (that’s hard to recreate in the clinical environment of a Zoom meeting.) I’m genuinely weary from being depleted of extroverted emotional energy.
Etc, etc, etc … wah wah wah. That’s just me – having a pity party for one.
But then I consider my family and friends and I scroll through social media and watch the news and there are so many more stories of grief and loss. Those who can’t visit sick loved ones in hospital or farewell dying family members or attend funerals. Those whose weddings or parties or graduations or celebrations have been shifted and reimagined and cancelled or been adjusted and reduced to something far less than they’d hoped. Sports teams not able to play finals. Concerts cancelled or performed to empty theatres. Newborn babies taking weeks and months to be met. Increased financial pressures on families. Rising rates of Domestic violence and abuse in homes. Ever increasing numbers of children in out of home care. More businesses closing down after each lockdown. Families separated by oceans. Mental health struggles.
Etc etc etc … so much collective grief. So much loss. Languishing and fatigue. Depression and uncertainty. It’s real.
So, I’m having a moment to recognise how much grief there is – in me and around me.
I am easily able to identify good things in my life and the world around me. There is still much joy to be found – so much to celebrate, embrace and be grateful for. I am not without conscience that my lot is a far easier one to navigate than many many others. I’m ok.
But there is space for lament. In fact, it’s healthy to realistically assess what we’re seeing, feeling and experiencing. It’s right to acknowledge the hard and the non-preferred and the downright crappy. There is a “time for everything and a season for every activity”. We achieve nothing through suppressing our grief or forcing optimism.
Maybe you need to take a moment too? To have a cry or a rant or a release of some sort. To acknowledge the loss and grief you’re experiencing – personally or vicariously. And perhaps by doing so, to make room in your heart and mind for the energy required to keep going and to see the potential and hope in what’s still possible and the joy there is yet to be discovered.