Yesterday was my little brother Brian’s wedding and I was honored to stand in the wedding party as he and his sweet, beautiful new wife Lisa committed their lives to God and each other. It was an all day affair from getting my makeup done at 7:45 to the reception which went late into the night. The brides family throws one heck of a party and you could tell from the moment you walked in how much thought and love was put in to celebrating Brian and Lisa. When dinner ended, they brought out a color coordinated candy bar and as the beat went on, they kept the guests going with a pizza buffet. There was indulgence around every corner, and I as I sit here the morning after my nearly 30 year old body is reminding me of just how much I indulged. I don’t think I left a mint chocolate truffle or a piece of red velvet cake uneaten in that ballroom. It was a beautiful celebration of life and love that I will never forget.
I am so often reminded of the cyclical nature of life. The seasons constantly change, the holidays circle around in their set pattern and around every corner it seems that something ends and something new begins. In the last year our family has experienced 2 funerals, 1 birth, and a wedding. I wonder if there is a still an emotion in existence that we haven’t felt deeply this year. We have cried together during tragedy and loss, but we have also shared the joy of new life and new beginnings. Through all of those moments together runs a strong reminder of the faithfulness of the God we serve side by side.
The thing about life’s cycles is that you never enter the next cycle of your life unchanged by the cycle you were just in. Each season of our lives recolors the way we see the world and it is beautiful and natural to change and grow as you experience life. Both the painful seasons and the times of joy and celebration. I think it is essential to remember that you have to be intentional about drinking deeply the season you are in. If you are going through a dark valley, you have to be there for a while to emerge healed and changed from that experience. In the same way when you are in a time of celebration you have to be intentional about entering in to that season as well. Even if your painful times and joyful times seem to be shockingly close together, celebrate as best you can. Don’t let the pain steal your joy and don’t be so afraid of the pain that you pretend it isn’t there. Be where you are in this life as much as you possibly can. It’s the only time you really have on your hands.
Don’t misunderstand me, there were moments yesterday that were very difficult to swallow. There was a candle in the back of the church at the ceremony that represented our parents, neither of whom were there to light the unity candle for our family. There were moments where I felt their absence like a huge gaping hole in my chest. However the God we serve, the God they are now with, commands us to live in the cycles of life. Mourn and party, work and rest. My family and I deeply missed my parents yesterday, but there is still so much to celebrate. We have a new sister, and her family has a new brother and son. God is going work beautifully through this new union, and we are going to bear witness to, and support these two.
And so recently, we have gathered at the church to mourn, but yesterday we gathered together to overflow with thankfulness and joy. We have stood together in the tattered moments of grief but yesterday was a day of dancing shoes and wine and remembering that life is made up of all these moments in their seemingly strange patterns. We have been given beautiful and painful life, how you choose to live it is on you.