Tuesday, March 15, 2011

{ A Soft Grief }

I am the Girl with the Plan. I'm usually armed with some sort of framework for anything I undertake.
I was the girl who, at slumber parties, would suggest we all make a "life plan:" choose the dates when we'd get married and have kids, what we'd name our children, and write it all down.
I was the girl who was going to get married at 23 and have a couple years to roam around the world with my husband, footloose and fancy free. We'd have our first baby when I was 26 or 27, followed by another child every two years till we had four.
I haven't thought about those slumber party games in a while. Those "plans" were certainly not the last, or the most valuable, that I ever made. Imagining those wide-ruled sheets of paper with "MELODY'S MARRIED PLAN" or "NIKKI'S MARRIED PLAN" printed across the top is a poignant visual for the kind of control I struggle for in my daily life. Control. Safety. Knowing what's going to happen, and when. Knowing that it's going to be okay because, hey, I have a rulebook, and as long as I play by these rules, I'm guaranteed the outcome that I want.
The Plan has undergone many metamorphoses since junior high.
I've embraced the changes I've chosen, fought tooth and nail against unexpected/unwanted ones. I've always been good at getting my own way. You might call me persuasive or strong-willed or determined if you're feeling generous. Spoiled or manipulative or selfish might be better choices.
I've been trying, more or less since this post, to be happy in spite of my circumstances. I've been encouraged and blessed by y'all's words. There is tremendous comfort in knowing that you're not the only one who has struggled with this; knowing that yours is not the first journey down this road. I glimpse hope.
So I've been trying to look on the bright side.
To focus on the things I have to be thankful for, rather than the things I want that I don't have.
And feeling more and more uncomfortable....like I have a really bad cut and I'm refusing to take care of it. Feeling fake. Feeling like I'm glibly mouthing Christian platitudes but still rotting underneath.
Yesterday I read this post by Wendi, a lady I've "met" online. Many times I've been encouraged, challenged, and exhorted by her. She truly has a gift for expressing God's truth through her life and her words. In this particular piece, she writes of "a legitimate place for this soft grief"--grief borne of dreams dying, life unfolding differently than she'd imagined, new realities following in their wake. Grief. Legitimate grief. Grief over the "loss" of something good that isn't given--something that was never promised, not deserved, but sort of expected nonetheless. The wanted thing doesn't materialize. Something other is given instead.
Perhaps I'm quite full of myself, extrapolating from her circumstances to my own.
Grief over having a job?
Grief over having to work after I'm married?
Grief over not being able to seen when, or how, I'll be able to stay home?
Grief over the fact that I feel like we're no closer to that goal than we were 20 months ago {though only God knows whether or not we are}?
Grief over the fact that I'm nearly 28 and not a mom?
Grief over the fact that married life is not what I thought it would be--it's harder, and I can't throw a tantrum or run away till the tough stuff is over?
Grief over a patch of pretty rough terrain Mike and I are navigating? The roughest we've yet weathered as a couple?
Very, very timidly, I say Yes.
I think, in God's mercy, it is good and right to grieve these things. To acknowledge that good things I've held dear are being nailed to the Cross. I hope there is time to mourn and weep for what is not. I hope there is time to mourn and repent for the ways, blinded by anger, I've sinned against God and my husband. I can't just look on the bright side. I can't ignore what feels, at times, like a howling wasteland surrounding me. I know, in my head, that He gives good gifts; that He takes these things only because, in His wisdom, He knows they are not best for me. But I do not yet feel this truth in my heart. I would be lying to deny the sadness and confusion that accompany the death of dreams. If I hold my pain closely, trying to ignore or minimize it, do I deny Him the very opportunity He seeks: to be my Comforter?
Quietly, afraid to be heard, I whisper Yes.


  1. oh Nikki, once again I stumble over a link to your blog and think why haven't I read there in a while.. wishing I could get you on my reader, so I never miss a post...

    this post.. though is wow.. your such a lovely gifted writer, with such a beautiful heart, a mama heart. Wether thats in your head or your arms.

    Im going to go lay my babies down for a rest, and spend some time praying for you and Mike, and dreams that are still alive and real.

    Wow that is not identical in any way to my dying dreams, but I too am feeling dreams fade and asking Jesus to reveal new dreams to me....

    praying the same for you Nikki.

  2. Sweet amazing woman. Those are some of the words that come to me.... when thinking of you. Hun, it is not selfish to look back and say "hmmm?!" I am sure you have heard that song that has the words "I think God for un-answered prayers". I would take that song a step further..... He answered you, but just not in the way you desired or expected. God loves you, Mike and your future and your past. Mistakes, and non-mistakes. God doesn't expect us to be perfect. And you are doing what He expects. Living, enjoying and loving.
    Something that Pete and I have been talking about a lot lately. We believe that God expects one thing from us the most. And that is to remember that this life here is only a staging area. What he desires for us is to love, and to treat others in love. To lose the word selfish in our vocabulary and to serve others in love and respect. I garantee that if you focus on what you can do for others (through God's help) you will succeed in your quest whatever the quest may be.
    I think you are lovely. And I know that life is just jumping from one rock to the other, and with Mike, you have someone there to offer his hand to help you along.
    Loves to you sweet girl.

  3. *Think was supposed to be "THANK"!

  4. Nikki~~I am so sorry you are going through such a difficult time. Much love and many prayers coming your way.

    "He hath shewed thee O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" Micah 6:8

    Keep the faith, dear one, and never doubt what God can do.