As if anyone is surprised, a lot can happen in a day. It has been exactly 26 since I last blogged, and yes, that means 26 days of up and down, the only constant being change. Thank you Heraclitus for declaring that philosophical truth.
More than just the past 26 days, this chapter in my life has been marked by ebb and flow. Stepping and waiting, then waiting some more. Hoping and disappointment. Hurting and healing. Chaos and rest.
Over the past week or two I have been reflecting on this ebb and flow in my own life, and within my relationship with TJ.
More than anything, it feels like since TJ and I have been together, and especially since being married, we have experienced an incredible amount of loss.
Three weeks after she was in our wedding, one of our dearest friends and life adventurers died suddenly. The elation of being newly married was quickly replaced with an unexplainable grief and sense of emptiness.
The next June, my grandma died. We had been expecting it for some time, but it didn't remove the loss that our entire family felt. My grandma was almost always the one who brought us together around things that really matter in life, like sharing moments around the table with an amazing home-cooked meal, simply being present with each other.
At the same time I transitioned jobs. I was eager to help reshape and build something that was floundering, but it ended up having to be done mostly alone. It was difficult to feel like I was really meeting my potential.
The next year, my grandpa passed away. It felt like he had been gone for a long time, having had a stroke unexpectedly in the middle of recovering from a heart surgery. In an instant his world was turned upside down and he often was discouraged by his inability to talk, walk, drive, and engage people they way he had in the past. You see, Grandpa was the life of the party. He was exuberant, creative, and generous. He would sing and whistle Sinatra or old showtunes most of the day. He loved people and people loved him, even when his antics instigated eye rolling.
Two months later I lost my job due to lack of finances. I began looking again, trying to find something that allowed for me to be in a place where I could thrive and make a difference. I was up for a job, one of two final candidates. I wasn't hired.
TJ and I then had a chance to move and help start a ministry on a farm with some friends in Northern California. It was a lot of work, as anyone who knows something about farming or living in community or ministry. Try putting all three of those together. We did it though, and for the time that we were there it was rich with new experiences and new friendships and new growth that can only happen when you put your heart and energy into something that requires a lot of risk, and even more faith.
Our time at the farm was slated to last a minimum of 2 years. With anything that is a first try, it didn't pan out the way any of us on the farm anticipated, which is difficult, and also expected. It is the reality of risk-taking and I firmly believe it was worth it.
However, it did not change the fact that moving back to Southern California only 7 months after we had transitioned to the farm felt like a loss.
As much as I want control over my life and circumstances, change occurs and plans are interrupted. Repeatedly. Daily. By the minute.
Since being back, we have lived with my (incredibly generous) parents and sister, throwing off the rhythm that they had in their home. The three of them would tell you that they do love our version of the Brady Bunch, with the 5 of us in the house, but we also all know that us being there has significantly impacted their routines and norms.
TJ and I have not had our own space to create a home since November 2012. That has been a place of loss for us. We love creating safe spaces for authentic relationships to be built by welcoming people into our home and sharing meals and life together. Not having the freedom to do that for so long feels as if a part of who we are is missing.
TJ and I have waited for almost 9 months since being back from the farm to find a job that would be something I love. A job that would reignite the excitement and passion for living wholly and encouraging others to do so as well. Getting a job is so hard for anyone right now. Getting a job that I want feels impossible. Résumé after résumé after interview after interview after making it to the final round multiple times, but still not being hired.
Every small amount of hope mustered seems crushed by (what feels like) loss after loss.
We are tired. We are discouraged. We are waiting. Waiting for this season of loss to shift into something more.
Yet as I have been reflecting, I think that slowly it is, and even possibly has been for some time.
With loss-colored glasses, naturally we would view the past few years from those lenses. And that is okay, because loss truly has been a deep mark of our relationship and marriage. In no way am I dismissing our pain and heavy heartedness.
Yet as I have been reflecting, I realize that a life marked with loss has the potential to be a life marked by overwhelming gain.
Seeing our journey in hindsight, some of the most cherished moments and people, the most authentic growth, wholeness, fullness of living, best adventures and engrained memories has come from our season of loss.
The pain of the losses has been incredibly real, even crippling. The gain from the losses has been incredibly rich, even healing.
I am realizing, you see, that life grows from death, but it is a process that requires time, patience, and perseverance.
Ask a gardener. They will tell you. And they will share the fruit of their labor with you as well, once it is ready.