Smiling in the dark

Smiling in the dark

I mindlessly scrolled through my feed until I came across a photo of a woman in a hospital bed, smiling with her whole body, without a strand of hair gracing the top of her head. She was surrounded by three of her closest ones, wrapped in the deep love of family. The caption read that she was finally going home, and I smiled. I don’t know this woman, but I know she has been given a gift. I sometimes see faces like hers as I walk the halls of the hospital. The photo’s caption went on, describing their blessings and God’s goodness toward their family. All this through a variety of hashtags, with words smashed together because time is so crucial, not enough available to give each word its own beginning and end. Time was moving on, and her life was out there waiting to be lived. What a gift she had been given.

But then my smile fell. God’s goodness sent her home that day healthier than she had been in months. God’s goodness had made her stronger and whole, had extended her life, had buoyed her and those close ones during a dark time. I am truly thankful that such miracles exist.

But my ache is still raw and my thoughts go here:

what about when it doesn’t happen that way?

God’s goodness may not always feel that good. Sometimes it feels like a lonely house. A broken relationship that keeps gnawing at you. Being the new girl in the room. Stepping out of your comfort zone. Staying late when you don’t have the time. Sometimes it feels like the phone call that never came or the horrific one that did. Accepting help when you wish you didn’t need it. Ignoring the hurtful words of a coworker.

It’s a mess of things that can feel and truly be quite messy.

It can be hard to pull yourself out of bed and put on a brave face when it feels like God and his goodness didn’t show up, at least not in a way that you were wanting or expecting. Although unbearably tough at times, I listen to my heart beating softly and certainly. I hear him there. I reach out through the blurry tears to find a hand to steady me. I feel him there. I let someone hold me just a little bit longer.

So what does it take for us to continue repeating God is good during those times when we want to scream that he is not? Maybe simply separating God’s goodness from the good things that happen in our lives and the good feelings we experience throughout our days. These things are not the same. Maybe settling into the discomfort and knowing he has settled in too. I wish I could say that I have the answer, but of course you know I don’t. His goodness is a mystery that leaves me wanting more. I want daily to understand, to be more capable in the processing of my hurts and the hurts of others, to identify God’s goodness in every situation, no matter how dark, and still be able to smile with the gift.