Our power went out a few nights ago on the coldest night of the season so far – minus seven degrees was forecast for the low, and it was already zero degrees when the electricity went off. Our house was instantly plunged into complete darkness; we live in a rural area with no street lights. After my hubby and I located each other by shouting (we were in rooms about as far apart as can be in our house) he told me the neighbor’s house that we can see from our living room where he was watching the football game, lost their outdoor Christmas lights, so he was fairly certain they had lost all power as well.
Our Christmas tree lights and the lights around the sliding doors going out to our back porch have been on since we put them up a couple of weeks ago. I love going into the living room, after all the other lights in the house have been turned off and everyone has gone to bed, to look at the lights. I not only enjoy the beautiful softly colored lights on the tree, but I love the quietness and solitude of that moment.
The power outage we experienced a few nights ago, though, made even finding the living room a challenge, so there was no solitary visit there to enjoy the lights before bedtime. I was busy, instead, scurrying around finding and lighting candles and extra blankets for what seemed would be a very dark and cold night ahead. After I’d loaded our daughter down with extra blankets for her bed in the basement, and placed lit candles in strategic places to make getting ready for bed easier, I made my way to the living room just to make sure everything was as it should be, albeit completely dark except for the candle I’d placed in the dining room next to it.
As I carefully felt my way toward the Christmas tree nestled into the bay window, I was struck by the pungent aroma of pine tree, getting stronger the closer I came to the tree. When I was just a few inches from the tree, I stopped, closed my eyes and sniffed deeply, enjoying the smell of a (fairly) fresh-cut Christmas tree. I realized, in that moment, that I hadn’t noticed the smell of the tree since shortly after we put it up. In fact, I’d decided that the smell had faded so much since we’d decorated it, that it was no longer a fragrant tree – just a dead one.
As I stood there in the dark enjoying the smell of the tree and marveling that it was indeed still a fragrant tree I had a light-bulb moment. I realized that the tree had been fragrant all along. I just hadn’t noticed it since we’d strung the lights onto it and plugged them in. My sense of smell apparently suppressed by my sense of sight.
Indeed, my sense of smell rendered inactive by my sense of sight. The tree was still fragrant. My nose still works……most of the time. But because my sense of sight was so taken with the beauty of the lights, my sense of smell lay dormant.
My emotional “senses” have been completely overloaded for the past 2+ years, beginning with such overload I completely shut down the day I found out my middle son had not survived his car accident; followed by a little more than a year of shock and denial, then anger and deep, deep pain leading to the past few months of……a little less anger and deep, deep pain. Acceptance is not yet in my vocabulary, even though I have no other choice. All these feelings, or emotional senses, if you will, have left me exhausted, numb and nearly hopeless that life will ever look any different from this again.
Except that, “yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me”. God is with me. If only I could remember that on a day-to-day, or even better a moment-to-moment basis. But I don’t. I forget and I get hopeless. I sometimes fell like I’m drowning in sorrow, which causes me to forget that I have an eternal hope.
Sometimes my emotional senses of sorrow, anger and hopelessness are so powerful I am completely unaware of any other emotional senses and they overrule my senses of faith, hope and perseverance.
Just as I mistakenly believed my Christmas tree had lost all fragrance and was simply a dead tree, I feel sometimes like my heart has lost all ability to feel anything but sorrow and hopelessness.
Then the Lord shines His magnificent light into my darkness, like a hole poked through a heavy veil, and I see His light, His hope, His faith in my heart, graciously imparted to me in the hour I need it most. Indeed, it was always there. Always. He never leaves me or forsakes me. In fact, He is near to the brokenhearted. Always.
I forget that sometimes my sense of sorrow seems to render my sense of faith dormant. I think I’m a dead tree in those moments. I think I’ve lost all fragrance. In fact, I feel I have lost myself, like I was buried when my son was buried. I feel like the walking dead. But as we all know, a dormant tree is not necessarily a dead tree, though it appears dead for a season.
I am in the longest unwanted season of my life. I can’t will it away. I can, and do, make choices everyday, but I can’t will this grief away, just like I can’t will away my love for my children. It is a thing; a living breathing thing. This is who I am. I love them with all my being. They came from my body and are forever a part of me, my very being. This grief caused by the tearing away of one of my children is a thing. A thing I have some control over, of course, but it is a part of me now, just like my love for my son is forever a part of me. I lost a piece of my heart; I have a heart full of love for a son I can’t lavish it on anymore.
But I digress (again) into talking to those who would rush me through grieving.
I’m beginning to realize I’m not a dead tree. I may be dormant for a season, but I’m not dead. My goal for the next year, which begins in a few days, is to remember, when my vision is drawn down into the pit of hopelessness, hope. To remember faith. To remember to persevere through the dark days and to look to the Light.
“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
“For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.” Romans 8:24-25