When the Way is Blocked

Yesterday afternoon I went on a walk and after a short distance, saw this ahead of me.

Well, that's how life feels, I thought.

If you don't know me, this is not how I work.  I don't slow down for speed bumps (sorry, Dad, about what that does to the car) literally or metaphorically (sorry, Susan, for always making fun of you for doing the same thing.)

But there I was, with a tree down across the path, and then a chainlink fence right after that.  Okay, I guess that's the end.

I can't say it had been a particularly happy walk up to that point.  I was on the verge of tears, trying to wrap my head around how much the world has changed in the past week.  I'm grieving the loss of normalcy, of good rhythms and structures.  And I'm grieving the very real possibility that Jason and my wedding in June may not look anything like what we had planned.

It's not as if I think that our marriage is going to be seriously harmed or that the world will fall apart if that day isn't perfect.  Yet it is sad to consider plans that we've crafted to make a beautiful celebration being scrapped (or postponed...indefinitely...)

And thinking about our wedding feels like a microcosm, a focus, of all of the loss and grief going on in the world right now, as millions of people change their plans and suffer in unforeseen ways (due to COVID-19 and many other reasons.)  This is where my pain is right now in this season.  I'm a finite being, in a particular time and place, and I'm having to learn how to accept that while my grief is not the grief of the whole world, it is real.

Sometimes the path you hoped would lead to a better view is blocked instead.  It's not the end of the story, but it is how some chapters end, and we (the characters in the story, with our own desires and motives and quirks) don't get to know why immediately.  Or maybe ever.

So we grieve.

A few years ago, Erica shared a study with our women's group about Isaiah 50:10-11.

Who among you fears the Lord
and listens to his servant?
Who among you walks in darkness,
and has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the Lord;
let him lean on his God.
Look, all you who kindle a fire,
who encircle yourselves with torches;
walk in the light of your fire
and of the torches you have lit!
This is what you'll get from my hand:
you will lie down in a place of torment.

They're not comforting words at first glance.  My instinct is to try to light up the darkness, to see the bright side.  There's a time for that.  But there is also a time to admit that it is dark and to trust in the Lord.

I'll probably be writing again soon about some of the hope and beauty that I've been seeing, some good tools that I'm finding to process and live in this crazy time.  But for now, it's okay if the way is blocked.  Come back to the picture I shared above, I loved that there was a bench right before the end of the path.  Sometimes, we sit and wait in the dark, before the obstacles that we aren't able to move, and wait to see what God does.  That's okay; it's appropriate to being human.

And we're allowed to grieve.


  1. The Bible is our best model for grieving. David's Psalms show us that there is always hope around the next corner which sometimes is obscured by the obstacles in the way. It is there nonetheless.


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