Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Sorrowful, Yet Full of Joy

Yesterday, eSuitor and I were planning to start taking intermediate swing dance lessons. (We took the beginning classes together in the fall). As we drove to class last night, I began to get teary-eyed. When we arrived and parked the car, eSuitor asked me what was the matter, and the flood gates opened. He wrapped his arms around me as I began to process what I was feeling. It came down to a general sense of overload. The realization that I only have three and a half months to accomplish a whole lot before our wedding has officially hit me. My mom and I certainly took care of the major tasks while I was in Texas, but I still have quite a few details that add up to a lot that I need to take care of now that I'm back. On top of that, I am feeling my own pressure to use my new-found unemployed status to be proactive about pursuing acting opportunities. And what I realize every now and again is that I am just plain sad about my Dad's health.

I got to visit with him while I was in Texas. Every time I see him is another gift from God. It is one more time to hug him and tell him that I love him. (I love you, Dad!) It was sobering, to say the least, when he told me that I need to prepare myself for the possibility that he may be feeling too bad to make it to my wedding in June. Of course, he wants to be there, but he doesn't know how he'll be doing at that time, and wants me to be prepared. I totally understand, and I am glad he was open with me about how he's doing.

As I verbalized all this to eSuitor last night, I just sobbed, which in a way was pretty cleansing. I have needed to grieve for my Dad's health situation for a while, but I have felt more shock or denial than sadness. Last night, though, the sadness came rushing to the surface.

Yesterday afternoon, my Dad called, and he sounded good. We talked about the wedding and whether he should wear a tuxedo or a suit. He said, "I am the father of the bride! I should wear a tux!". I loved that! So you can see that it is not all sadness. There is a mixture of emotions. Good days and bad days. A bizarre tension of living in the joy of my approaching marriage and the sorrow of my Dad having cancer. I continue to be amazed by his valiant fight. His inner fortitude is nothing short of inspiring.

This morning, I read from a devotional book called Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman (which I recommend to anyone going through a rough time). The scripture verse that it referenced was 2 Corinthians 6:10 "Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." Or as The Message translates it, "immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy". I think that verse is an apt description of how the Christian life can be. It is not that we are to ignore the deep sorrow that is part of life. It is embracing that sorrow is indeed part of the journey. We can feel it deeply. Yet no matter how hard life gets, there is always a deep joy that fills us because of God's presence in our lives.

That was my family's experience three and a half years ago when my step-dad died of cancer. Deep grief accompanied by the comfort and joy of the Lord. And that is my experience now as my own Dad fights this awful disease.


Jilly said...

Tracy, you are an amazing woman. When things are rough, that's when we truly find out what our view of God is. Can we depend on Him? Do we blame him? Does he really understand what I'm going through? You are a beautiful example of a woman who seeks God and wants to know His character. That's what is so important when we feel like we are sad, down, or just plain at rock bottom. No matter how far down we get, we can know that the rock at rock bottom is God because that's part of His character. Your joy is a testament to that. "Sorrow, yet always rejoicing." That can be so hard to do. You are a lovely picture of that. I love my sissy!

esuitor said...

Your words remind me so much of the emotions I experienced during my father's battle with cancer 12 years ago...an odd mixture of sorrow and deep joy/comfort. Deep sadness combined with the ummistakeable presence of God. I pray He will manifest himself powerfully in your life in the coming months.

Ally Bean said...

If you don't accept the sorrow, how could you possibly understand the joy? It may not be easy, but it's real.

And as for your dad, I'm betting that his inner fortitude will get him to the church to be with you on your wedding day.

Sharon said...

The way that your family weathers sorrow and sees it as an opportunity to become that much closer to God is an inspiration. Big tears are the best kind because they cleanse more of the spirit than a mere trickle. What a joy it was to send off your step-dad when he went home to be with his Savior. I have no doubt his soul will be by your mom's side at the wedding (cancer free). And THERE WILL BE MUCH REJOICING!

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

I'm so glad that you were able to see your father on your visit home, and that you have found the comfort and joy that will help you through this time.

Ted's father passed away 4 months after our wedding, and it was a time that we call, "Sweet and Sour".

ML said...

Starshine, I'm so sorry you're going though this right now. It's good to cry and let all your emotions out now, I think it'll help you to move forward.

Best wishes to you and your family. I'm very sorry to hear about your Dad.

Autumn's Mom said...

I'm sending down to you some very good thoughts. God's plan is already in motion Tracy. You have your faith to hold onto. I'm proud to know you and share your joy and sorrow.

Love Bears All Things said...

Valleys and Mountains, life is a roller coaster ride. Remember, that God had knew every moment of your life before you were born. Aren't you glad he is in charge of the plans he has for you. This is a time of great change. That is when we need him the most.