Bittersweet. Probably one of the most overused words to describe anything that evokes mixed emotions, anything that is both hard and good, happy and sad, exciting and terrifying. We use it to describe times of change mostly, endings and new beginnings. These definitely deserve the fullness of this word, and usually are times I tend to struggle with. It’s not that changes aren’t joyful! Change is something inevitable in this life as we grow up and mature and follow the Lord. They most definitely bring us joy and growth, new life and new relationship. So, the problem isn’t that we can’t find joy in the changes. The problem is that usually, for me at least, each change brings a little fear, anxiety or sadness along with it. This brings us back to “bittersweet” and to the word that has been the cry of my heart over the last few days… You see with college graduation one would assume change is going to occur, right? Well we graduated from the University of Minnesota 3 months ago, but this weekend is when it actually began to feel real. First let me praise God for His goodness and for the sweetness of the last few days! Friends have started graduate school programs, received scholarships and accepted offers for their dream jobs! On top of this I was honored to stand up in a dear friends wedding and got to spend the night celebrating, dancing and laughing with my best friends! I seriously could not have imagined a more perfect way to spend my last day before STINT and I’m thankful for all of it and for all of the many reminders to soak it up! But the goodbyes at the end of the night (and some this morning, and some last week) were worse than I ever thought they could be too. Even after the goodbyes were all over I boarded the plane and cried more as I read cards from family and friends, encouraging me in this new step of faith. After our 2nd layover (yuck) I finally brought myself to open my bible…
In Colossians 3, Paul is writing to the church in Colossae. He is encouraging them to look upon heavenly things not earthly things and to live set apart as Gods chosen ones. In verse 15 he says, “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”
What should this look like in my current state wallowing in the bittersweet? I can so easily read this for the 100th time and think “Yes Lord give me your peace” but what does that mean for me? God promises us His peace in the Holy Spirit “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (John 14:27) but how does that manifest in my life? So I have it but how do I let it rule in my heart?
What really struck me was the last part where Paul says “And be thankful”. It is so easy for me to be thankful for my friends and family and their blessings and a new marriage and a perfect weekend. But often times, and especially right now, it’s hard for me to be thankful for the hard things, the bitter things, the things that don’t feel sweet to me at this moment.
My prayer right now is not to be rid of the bittersweet, but to embrace all of it! To actually let the peace of Christ take a hold of my heart, to lead me to thank Him for all things in all circumstances at all times. I know this next year living overseas will continue to be hard and good, happy and sad, exciting and terrifying, and I want to be present and thankful in all of it.