Written by: Anne Klassen
It was 2017 and it was well with my soul. It was well with my life and my children. It was well with my family and all was well with our health. It was all so well, and it was easy to be grateful. It was natural to choose joy.
As I watched my children play, while I spent time with my family, as life sailed smoothly on, joy and happiness was my default position.
Then, Just a few days after celebrating a momentous occasion with my little family my sister found out she had terminal cancer.
Our family suited up. We gathered, rallied, put our game faces on and set about trying to vanquish this beast that had invaded all that was good. We explored options, offered advice, prayed, sat with her, loved her and I expected my miracle. Expected HER miracle. Fully and without reservation.
…. then death snuck in and took up residence where she had just been and I found myself by her side that last day asking for another hour. Just one more hour, while also wanting her to be free from the awful-ness that comes with dying.
Only tears spoke because I couldn’t find words and it was no longer well, but real grief came slow and unexpected. It intensified slowly over the months instead of the immediate blow that I was anticipating and had prepared for. After all the frozen casseroles were eaten and things began to quiet…that’s when the knock down, drag out, ugly business of mourning began in earnest.
And a small voice asked me to be joyful. How dare you? I was offended that I still needed to take out the trash as if everything was the way it had been so how could such a thing be asked of me?
How could I with a grief that was vicious and fights dirty? I couldn’t reconcile my expectations with the reality of death and could not fathom joy.
And so, I chose nothing….
because I couldn’t handle being so vulnerable that I burst into tears in the produce aisle in my local grocery store…..AGAIN. I didn’t recognize then how God showed up in all the moments that took my breath away. The humour that was present in that same situation when the poor old lady next to me thought I couldn’t handle my emotions because my car had died…. I didn’t have the heart to tell her she needed to turn up her hearing aid.
My heart was broken, and I was mad.
Jesus said to ask, and I had asked.
He said, “where two or more are gathered….” and we gathered in droves.
Jesus said to ask in his name and we begged.
A storm was brewing in my soul and still I knew I was being asked to choose joy. Choose JOY. CHOOSE JOY! How?
I still loved deeply. I still found happiness in my life but part of me was shut down. The flame was a flicker that was going to die.
Then, just then…. backed into the sharpness of broken hope came a little voice again. This time….the voice of my daughter.
While I was cleaning ketchup off the floor and crying, she wiped my tears with her tiny hand and she asked in the way only a two-year-old can, “Mama, you still be happy?” and in a movie-esque moment I saw what had been missing in our home for the last several months. There was a sudden keen awareness of the stifling, rigid and unforgiving terrain I had been trying to pass off as regular life.
Out of the mouth of babes…. Would I be ‘still happy’? Could I be? The closing off of my heart seemed like a good option until I saw in my daughters’ eyes that closing myself off to the pain also closed me off to the joy….
Ah, and there it is. This joy that keeps fluttering around the edges, never pushing its way in but always there to be had BUT I’d have to lean into it and walk through the pain if I was going to come out of it.
Suddenly I got it. The full spectrum of the pain and, more clearly, the beauty of a bigger plan in all things so intricately intertwined in our very beings and so delicately woven into how He loves us. God’s still got this. He still knows what he’s doing even when I don’t. He can still be trusted even when I don’t get the plan. It is well EVEN IF things don’t go the way I want them to.
Someone said that pain is not the absence of God’s goodness and in that moment, in that place, it was a light in a dark room.
He is the same God that saw me broken and addicted 9 years ago and brought me to a new place and I had to trust the He would stick around for this too.
And Now? Now It IS Well with my soul, even when some days my heart has to fight to catch up. It IS well because there is so much that is good.
There are tender, raw places where I still tread lightly but there is always grace for my weakness and I am again grateful. My gratitude is at times hard won but it is abundant and there is a deep and abiding joy that only comes from one source.
And with one resounding statement, I gather courage and walk on….
It Is Well, Even If…..
“Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy” John 16:22
I am the spoiled child of the King.
I’ve always known about Jesus but only met him for real about 10 years ago and it drastically and fundamentally changed all the pieces of me. The goodness I’ve experienced in the good times and bad has been, in a word, overwhelming.
I am fiercely devoted to my family and friends but couldn’t bake a cake to save a friendship.
I am a mother of 4 of the best children on earth.
Lola, Carlos, Mia and Ellie and also a bonus babe whom my kids and I have the privilege of caring for through fostering.
Being a single Mom to 4 kids wasn’t my original plan and throwing fostering into the mix would have seemed like a ludicrous idea had I thought if it myself but I’m being extravagantly cared for by the One who came up with this plan and it’s all working out just right.