Not Here

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

Hiking Mt. Humbolt, Colorado 2011.

Trying to understand this phenomenon of, “Those who are asleep” takes a good deal of time. Of course, it’s those who have died, the ones who walk this earth in their tent no longer. It’s difficult to understand because they have always been here.

Once I met Jana, I did not know life without her. She was always there. I could count on that, it was a fact…an unchanging point in a changing world. Over the years, I connected much of my life to her. I did not consider things without looking through the lens of “Chris and Jana.” This is not wrong, you understand, it’s marriage.

Now, she is not here. That thought is profound. I have dwelt on it now, continuously, for three days shy of seven months. This simple statement has reached into every single part of my life and being. Often, over the months, I have gone back in my nightmare to a hospital bed and looked into the face of this one that I loved to force myself into the realization that, in fact, she is not here.

I choose to weep and cry. I give it space, some room to take over a bit. The tears want to come, and they are never very far away. It’s the universal expression of sadness… You don’t want to cry this way, if you haven’t before, but the unfortunate truth is that someday, you may.

When hiking up mountains, the trail meanders it’s way along and eventually reaches the peak. Not all mountains are constructed like we may draw them, just a triangle shape. Often, when hiking up, there appear to be “false peaks” that the trail must cross before reaching the actual peak.

Grief has given me some “false peaks.” Some occasions in which I thought things were getting better, like I was making some real changes. It was progress, to be certain, but it’s easy to want to be further along than what I am. To travel down again, to feel as if I’m slipping or losing ground is disheartening.

My general trajectory is up, though. Highs and lows, my trail looks more like a roller coaster than a gentle upward slope. When I sense the hope that Jesus gives, it almost overwhelms me. It’s a joy that nothing else provides. To know that Jana is secure, I have a future, the kids are in God’s hands… I have hope! I do believe that Jesus died and rose again, and that He is my hope!

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