A few days ago we had a “Countryside Day.” A day we packed up the kids and headed out to see what adventure awaited us. It snowed recently and though it wasn’t much, most of it was still on the ground. Just south of UB is the oldest national park in the world. Bogdkhan Uul National Park predates Yellowstone by over 100 years dating back to the Ming Dynasty. We roasted hot dogs, played hide and go seek in the snow, explored, hung with some cows and ended it with playing down by an icy river. In St. Pete, we could get out of the city, but there wasn’t the nature there that there is here. There wasn’t the pristine wilderness or the remoteness there that we have the opportunity to take in here. We take advantage of going out to the country side because it’s good for our bodies. It’s good for our family. It’s good for our souls.
I’m a big fan of Brene Brown. I’ve mentioned her here several times. Reading her second book, Daring Greatly and watching her first TED Talk both came at a point right before I started my journey in recovery. I believe they both helped me get to a point to have the courage to take the first steps of the 12 Steps. Her latest book, Rising Strong, is next on my list! In Daring Greatly, she makes one interesting observation that struck me off guard when I read it. She said “When you honor what you have, you’re honoring what I’ve lost.” I didn’t quite understand what she meant. I went into the other room and asked Iris. “What does this mean?”
Two and a half years ago, Iris’ oldest sister, Autumn, suddenly passed away. She had been struggling with many physical issues but still, at the age of 37, no one expected it. In response to my question, Iris explained it this way. “When you honor your sister, Steph, you are in a sense, honoring me in my loss of Autumn. In honoring your older sister who is still physically with us, you are honoring me in my love of Autumn.”
And there it was. Words put with feelings and ideas I have long held, but could never fully express. It made sense. Honor is more than receiving applause or medals. It’s more than highlighting the good things that have happened or great accomplishments. It’s humanizing those around us. It’s acknowledging reality and events that really did take place, people and seasons that are now gone, and admitting the pain involved.
For those of us who have things that others don’t, be it from loss or that they were never given the opportunity, if we never enjoy and use those things for their intended purposes, we are in a sense, not honoring the loss of those who don’t have them. If we have two perfectly good legs, yet don’t use them to walk or run, we are not honoring the loss of those who have no legs or the loss of not being able to use them. For those of us who have children but never spend time with them or see them as a nuisance, we are not honoring the loss of those who have never had the ability to have them. On a softer side, if we have the ability to go and explore the countryside, yet never make time to enjoy that aspect of God’s creation, then we, in a sense, are not honoring the loss of those who never have the opportunity or ability to bask in the beauty He created for our pleasure and His glory.
Life is full of loss. When we don’t honor the losses in our lives, we can never fully engage them to the point that we reach the joy that comes on the other side. Joy comes on the other end of sadness, mourning and grief. Though I still have a hard time honoring my own losses, I was reminded that day as I ran in the snow, through the forest with my wife and kids, to take a moment and enjoy what was going on around me. Not only was it honoring my kids and family, it was honoring those who don’t have the opportunity-those of you who don’t have those kinds of opportunities. Honoring by being present.
This, I believe, brings joy to God. These are the things, I believe, God watches and says “that’s why they are the apple of my eye. They honor one another in joy and pain.”
What are your experiences with loss, joy and honoring? What are some opportunities and experiences you have taken advantage of, that have brought you joy? Our understanding of God grows as we share our experiences with one another, I’d love to hear your story!