Getting Real: On Joy and Pain

Jun 25, 2013

I love these pictures of my sweet boy. We've been dropping Michael off at the mountain biking trail and have gone to the park and waited for him to meet us there. The past couple of times the swing set was full, but this particular day there was only one other kid there. Noah really enjoyed swinging and gave me the cutest faces when he wasn't busy observing the other kids. It was rough trying to get some good shots while he was going back and forth, but I did get a few!

I look at these pictures and ask myself  "Where did the time go?". He is getting so big. 

There are so many things in life that bring joy. Being this boy's mama is pretty high on that list. But with that joy comes the risk of unspeakable pain, too. And I don't think you can have one without the other. You open yourself up to joy, but if you're aware, you understanding that you've opened yourself up to the possibility of pain that is equally as strong as the joy. 

I've married my best friend. I've promised my life and love and everything to this one man. We've built, and are continuing to build, a wonderful life together. I've opened up my heart and have been raw. I've dreamed with this man in mind for as long as I can remember. We've created a family. That is joyful.

Then I see others who have lost their spouse. I see others whose marriages have fallen apart. And in those times, and more recently on a daily basis, I realize that life is so fragile. I put myself in their shoes and shudder at the thought. I sink into those moments so deeply to the point where I feel as if it's happened already. I look at my husband and because I love him so much, I'm forced to see the opposite end of the spectrum. I know one day one of us will have to say goodbye. I'm at the joy end staring the pain end directly in the face and praying I never have to physically walk there. 

I've given birth to the most precious boy. The lens of my life has come into focus even more since he was born. This kind of love is unexplainable. I've heard it described as "scary love" and now I realize what that means. It means that because I love this boy with my whole heart, that I have my whole heart to lose. I see sick children. I see freak accidents. I see loss. I see pain. And again, I'm standing at the joy end and praying with everything I have in me that I never have to walk to the pain end. 

Let me say it again. Because I love with my whole heart, I have my whole heart to lose.

And that's scary. It's the kind of scary that makes me sometimes wonder what I was thinking diving in like this..loving with abandon. Then I think about my life without these two...without family or loved ones. What kind of life would that be? 
I have struggled with mourning things that have not yet happened. I mourn the potential loss of my husband or my son. I mourn the loss of others in my life who are living and breathing. In some twisted way I wonder if I do this to try to prepare myself in case it were to happen. Isn't that some sick way of trying to feel in control? It's miserable when I allow myself to go there.
It takes away from the joyful moments of today. 

The joyful moment as I watch Noah splashing around in the bath and my mind wonders, What if this is the last bath I ever give him? 

The loving moment in which I watch as my husband leaves for work in the morning and my heart aches at the thought, What if he doesn't make it home this evening? 
This is such an unhealthy way to live life. I know it, yet I still allow my mind to go there, especially when I'm feeling weak. A wise woman in my life reminds me that God is faithful to give grace when we need it the most. She reminds me after I say "I just don't know what I would do, I just don't know how I would go on.." that in his love, God gives overwhelming grace in the moment, for the moment.
 That is my comfort. The faith that I have in Him should allow me to combat these thoughts of fear and worry with the confidence that God is bigger than all of it. When my focus is HIS life, instead of mine, his grace is easier to accept. He has given grace in that even in my depravity and despair, He gave me life. He has given grace in that even though I am far from perfect, He has blessed me with the lives of others. It doesn't guarantee that the pain won't come. But because of His love, I have to believe that if or when those moments come...the loss, the pain, the struggle, all of it....that he will give me the same sufficient grace. 
I still have a choice to make daily, though. I can choose to trust that God is who He says He is and enjoy the blessings he's given. Or I can choose to surrender to my thoughts of worry, thus stripping some joy from today. I'm not so great at trusting most days.


  1. I struggle with this too, Kelsea, mourning the loss of things I haven't actually lost yet. It's hard to come to terms with the fact that the things, the people, that we love so much don't belong to us and we don't get to keep them forever. I can only imagine how much this will be magnified when I have kids of my own.

    On a lighter note, I'm glad Michael is getting good use out of his bike! That first picture of Noah looks so much like him, but I can see you more in the second!

  2. Just wait til he's two! Like mine is. Things go so fast.

    Just enjoy each new stage!

  3. Ps ican relate. I'm a natural worrier. I've tried to pray more and ask god to help me take one day at a time. We have no guarantee for tomorrow. Yes bad things may happen but why worry about them before hand?! No point, just wasted time. Don't worry about tomorrow, each day has enough trouble of its own!