My husband makes a play list of songs for each summer. It becomes the background of nights under the stars, camping trips and BBQs with friends. He named the one for this summer, “Hard times and summer time rhymes”. It is well named. We got summer time rhymes going, but there are some things that are very hard.
We are on our second round of disappointment this summer. A bulging disk sometimes pinches, seizing his back and deferring our plans. We go through the five stages of grief, accepting the reality of changed plans and adjusting to the flexibility that circumstances are currently demanding as best we can.
In a comfort-seeking culture, it’s hard to form a theology of disappointment. Or a theology that is rich enough to hold the messy, hard, broken parts of life (physically or emotionally) that inevitably are part of our story whether they are a memory or a current reality.
This theology cannot be hard lines, start black and white, but must be a splattering of chaotic gray. It’s hard for me to put into words, but it feels like I can just barely grasp one drip of paint here and there. It is when I get a chance to stand back and try not to understand all the particulars that something beautiful starts to emerge.
If I were to wish away the back pain that affects our life right now, I would also be asking for a different man than the one who walks beside me. Who’s to say what his life would have been if he had avoided the things that led to this current injury. But I know that I cannot have him as the man I love today without the pain.
Sometimes I want to wish away the dark season in my life, the broken relationships, the confusion of that time. But again, if I wish that away from my story, I also would be asking God to take away the very thing that He used to form and refine me so that I can be the wife and person I am today. I cannot be me and also not have that part of my story.
And so what we hold in our hands is one part brokenness and one part provision and grace. The same thing is both pain and joy. We know that we were made for wholeness, and so we pray against brokenness and place our hope in restoration and healing. But we also find ourselves thanking God for the pain and trusting Him, that He is able to make even our brokenness into gracious provision to shape and form us to be ever more like Him.
He truly is able to make beauty out of ashes, and joy out of mourning.