I was recently trying to figure out how to sneak vegetables into mac and cheese. You will desperately understand when you are a parent.  As I was scrolling through recipes on Pinterest, a quote stopped me in my tracks. It said,

“Weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face, trust God, and embrace the life you have.”

I was quickly brought back to sitting in Sabrina’s office, my leg moving nervously. Eyes darting around to the scripture on her walls. Avoiding her gaze. My husband and I had been dating for barely six months, and I was already in counseling. She was examining my responses closely, as she always does. She kept saying the same thing. “You are thinking about marrying him. You have to grieve it. You have to grieve the family that you will never have, the ‘perfect’ life you thought would come to be. It will be different than you thought. And you have to grieve the losses.”

I refused to. It was too hard, too raw. Plus, to admit that I was grieving was too frightening to acknowledge. Was I not supposed to marry him if I recognized the inevitable difficulty I would face?

Somehow, it took me 23 years to learn that life is hard as hell. I had lived oblivious to this fact for most of my life. I thought if I followed the rules, I was guaranteed easy. When I began this journey, it was like I was woken up to a whole new world. God has opened up my eyes that so many people are deeply grieving something. Most of our lives have not gone as planned.

We have dear friends who have had to grieve that they will most likely never have biological children. Friends whose parents died suddenly and now will never know their grandchildren. I have friends who were positive they would be married by now. Friends whose marriages are coming apart. Where are these lives we thought we would live?

I never thought marrying a man with a child would be part of my story. I never dreamed that I would cry for countless hours over custody orders, unknown futures, and certain symbols of the past making me nauseous.

The thing is, though- we have to allow ourselves to grieve. The Psalms become your best friend because they offer no explanation and are unapologetic about pain and suffering. The Psalms cry out to God with anger and frustration. The Psalms are full of unanswered questions, yearnings that are not met. The Psalms give us permission to say “Why, God? Why??” He is not afraid of our questions, our anger, our grief. He is, in fact, all too familiar. Jesus Himself has felt grief beyond what we can imagine; Jesus has felt his heart be torn in two. Jesus has had his soul overcome with sorrow to the point of death. And what did he do? He cried out to God, with the Psalms. Psalm 22 to be exact. “Why have you forsaken me??” Jesus weeps and grieves with us.

Grief is a terrifying emotion to give yourself over to. I have a memory of calling my husband at 2 am on a summer night because I couldn’t stop crying. I kept saying “This is not what I had hoped for. This is so scary. I am so scared.” (side note: He is a trooper). It was like the grief came crashing down like a wave that you aren’t expecting and knocked the breath out of me. The reality of what our future could look like was so uncertain.

What I am slowly learning is that this is the story the Lord has given me. It is mine and mine only to live boldly and with great hope. As much as we may want to; we can’t fast forward through the grief. We have to let Jesus meet us in our grief and let Him say “I know, I know, I know, and I love you.” We have to sit in it, in all the pain.

Then we can embrace. And then we rise.