Joy in the midst of sorrow. That has been my “words to live” by this last year. In every moment, experience, and milestone, I have remembered those words and repeated them over and over until it was truth. Joy. Sorrow. They are happening simultaneously in my life almost every minute. If I weren’t intentional about seeing the joy, however, it would seem like a whole lotta sorrow.

There were two things my mama used to always say, that have stuck with me in all of the overwhelming moments of this last year: you can’t trust who you don’t know, and choose joy. In the worst of the pain and deepest moments of sorrow, I have to draw closer to Jesus not farther away. I can’t trust him to heal my wounds and get me through my sorrow if I don’t know him. And I’d certainly have no quality of life if I didn’t make it a point to choose to see the joy in the moment. Because God is good, and even though it’s hard for me to wrap my head around his goodness when I’m sitting in the pain of death, his goodness is revealed in the tiny pieces (and often not so tiny) joy that are shining through the worst of days.

I had an ugly cry the other day. I had taken Audrey to the aquarium to see her friend Hank (she named the octopus at the aquarium) and to play on their indoor playground. Her and I were testing each other’s limits and some playtime and wonderment seemed a good idea. As she ran her little heart out through the obstacles in the playroom, I sat there and stared at my calendar. We are only weeks away from what should have been George Mason’s Birthday. Weeks. It’s not even something I can comprehend. How the heck did 365 days come and go? February 10, 2017 seems like it was yesterday, yet here we are in the middle of January 2018. I don’t even know how we got here. I started stressing about how we would celebrate. I started worrying about all the perfection that my human mind wants and needs - because it gives the illusion of control - and I just got lost. I was sad. I was anxious. I was relieved that Audrey was occupied and I didn’t have to explain my tears. And then as I got in the car to drive home, the ugly stuff just came.

I know that nothing I ever do on February 10, will be perfect, because George Mason won’t be here. After a good cry, I realized that. I’m still going to stress over the things that help me feel like I have control, but the difference after that cry was the anxiety. I will stress but I won’t be anxious. God is in control. I will work out the things that I need to see happen on that day, but only God will get me through it. I will likely weep. I will likely be angry. I will likely feel the relief that only Jesus can provide, when I think about heaven and how wonderful a place it is for my son to be. And I will remember my mamas words and will choose joy, because God is someone I know and can trust. I want his day to be joyous. I want it to be a celebration. I don’t want it to be all pain. I want there to be joy in the midst of sorrow.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. -Matthew 5:4