Both

ImageOne year ago, life was hues of grey and despair.  Advent arrived: frustration, grief, lack of fulfillment.

One year ago, I felt lost.  Like floating in the sea, not sure which direction to turn.  Not knowing who I was.

And yet, that’s not totally true.  I had a loving husband, wonderful son, beautiful city, and all of life’s basic necessities.  I had extended and church family surrounding me with love and support.  I had friends, near and far.

But it wasn’t enough.  I needed more.  I wanted something beyond that to feel worthwhile.  Valuable.

I grieved the fact that we couldn’t get pregnant.  The idea of Advent – preparing for Christ’s birth – was too much.  If only I could have a baby.  Or if that door was closed, then I desperately hoped for a job in my field of expertise.  An occupation to give life meaning.

Something.  Anything I could use when introducing myself:

Hello, I’m Regan.  I have this job that gives me worth.  Hello, I’m Regan.  In nine months, I’ll have another baby.  Being a mom of two makes me worthwhile.

ImageIt was a time of confusion.  Days went by.  I didn’t know what choice to make.  Fertility treatment?  Adoption?  Put those choices aside and pursue a career?  I would have much preferred someone else to make the decision.

Didn’t happen.  So, we chose fertility.  Met with a doctor for an assessment.  Went home to consider our options.  Felt assured of our direction.  Soon after…learned we were pregnant.

Happy ending, right? This should conclude my story. Hope fulfilled.  Direction given.  Worth found.

And it was.  At first.

Slowly thoughts crept in my mind, overshadowing my thankful heart.

Ok, so we’re having another child.  But what am I going to DO with my life?  How will I truly find meaning if I don’t have a job?

Just like that, I’m unfulfilled.  Dissatisfied.  Worth and value squashed again.

Which led me to the question – In what am I expecting to find worth?    I keep wanting things, getting them, and wanting more.   Will this unseen gaping hole ever be truly filled?

And I am struck with a response.  Yes.  And no.

japaneseYes, I can find fulfillment.  But it’s not from me.  It’s not from my husband or family.  It’s not friends.  It’s not even my job or title.  It’s not my church.

It’s a gift.  A gift of love given by the Creator of all things.  A gift given so strangely as a child to a young couple traveling far from home.  Unexpected.

I find connection to the Creator God and created world through this gift.   Love.  Joy.  Peace.  Hope.  Such small, simple words with such extravagantly rich meanings.  They cut to the very core of my desires and longings.

And yet in this life, will I ever truly be fulfilled?   No.

I can embrace and accept the love of God and still feel longings.  Still feel incomplete and unfulfilled.  I am still human.

But it’s not always about how one feels, is it?  It’s how one responds.  What direction one turns when doubt clouds judgment.  When the grey descends on a perfectly delightful moment, there is still choice.

So can one recognize and engage feelings of loss, unfulfilled dreams, and grief, whilst choosing to live love, hope, and joy? Can these coexist?

Perhaps the truth lies in a misconception that love and joy are merely feelings.  Hope is only a wish.

bothThere is greater power in these words.  They go beyond one-dimensional thoughts and emotions.  They penetrate and connect people, groups, systems – all created things!  Therefore, I can feel longing and still engage in love.  I can experience peace in the midst of grief.  I can find joy and hope in the grey.  Both/and.

So here I am, once again.  Fulfilled and longing.  Thankful and wishing.  A dichotomy of reality.  Embracing both/and.

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