I was just going through documents on my computer and found this piece of writing from months ago that I never posted. I re-read it and decided that even late, the words still ring true… -Faith
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 (KJV)
For years I wondered as a child what in the world the chocolate chip packages meant by saying “bittersweet”. I remember thinking that seemed like an oxymoron. How could chocolate be bitter AND sweet?
It took me until I was an adult to see how chocolate isn’t the only thing that is bittersweet. Life is like bittersweet chocolate too.
Sometimes we have this thought pattern that our life can only be one or another at any given time. When in fact both can live simultaneously in the same time frame. Our lives can be profoundly good and deeply hard at the same time. I’ve experienced this multiple times in the last several years.
Like bittersweet chocolate.
The times that have been the hardest and most challenging in my life have also been when I’ve learned the most about courage and about Jesus and about compassion. During depression and grief and loss, I’ve seen Jesus show up for me. The days that have been the darkest are the same ones that have opened a door for me to see the face of God in a new and very real way. Good and bad often exist in our lives together.
Like bittersweet chocolate.
Maybe the bitterness in chocolate allows you to enjoy it more. Without the bitterness the chocolate would be too rich to consume. It would be overwhelming. The sweetness is what draws us to eat chocolate again and again. If it wasn’t sweet, we’d have no desire to enjoy it. The sweetness is never overcome by the bitterness. Bitter and sweet, working together for the most enjoyment.
We all have bittersweet moments in life. It might be motherhood… knowing the sweetness of your newborn far outweighs the sleepless nights. Maybe it’s the loss of a parent who struggled with cancer for years. You miss them deeply but you know they are now painless and enjoying perfect health.
Like bittersweet chocolate.
I’m currently standing at one of those bittersweet moments. Let me give you some back story…
In August 2019, weeks before my 31st birthday, Tim Hayes and I started dating. After years of singleness, SURPRISED is an understatement. I was excited and a little scared and totally unprepared for all the amazing ways that God would bless me through this man. He is such a gift to me.
Then on August 22nd, 2020 Tim asked me to be his wife. I knew in the back of my mind this day was coming…but I was happily shocked. We were hiking at a state park where we often go and my sister was with us, toting a camera. That fact seemed relatively normal because she always is taking pictures. I had no idea she had been commissioned to capture “the moment” behind the lens.
I said YES. Naturally!
This is the sweet part. I am getting married! I get to spend the rest of my life with Tim, who loves Jesus and wants to follow Him intentionally. Marriage also means I don’t have to say good bye to my best friend every few weeks for long stretches of time. Long distance relationships are difficult in that regard. 800 miles is a long way. We get to be together and do life and serving JESUS together now instead of from a distance. The sweet part of chocolate.
There is a slightly bitter part too.
I’m moving nearly 800 miles away from everything I’ve ever known.
For 32 years I have always lived at home. Yes, I have traveled over the last few years, but I always come back to the same house where my family lives. While I’ve moved a lot in my life, I have lived in Camden the longest ever…15 whole years. That’s over twice as long as I have lived anywhere else! My community has been a beautiful place to learn and grow and make friends. My roots are deep in this place.
My church is a safe haven for me. They are my people. They are my cheer leaders. They pray for me. They give me a chance to lead and a place to recharge after a long season of ministry.
My family is the bomb. They have championed me, cried with me, laughed with me and pushed me to greater heights. I have been here for the milestones…for birthday celebrations and holidays. I have been here to hold all my brothers’ babies right after they are born and when those same babies decide to take their first steps. My siblings and parents are my safe spot to share my dreams and failures. They also loved Tim before I did. Which is a beautiful gift within itself. They are excited and ready to help launch me into this next season of life, despite the fact that I am moving 12 hours away.
These are the realities that ground me from floating away on the clouds of love and wedding bliss. These are the bitter parts of this chocolate.
Together…this an amazing, scary, beautiful and broken time of my life. This is like bittersweet chocolate.
To be fair, the sweet is definitely outweighing the bitter. Hands down, the sweetness of this season is winning. I think WAY MORE about spending my life with Tim, and would move half way across the world to marry him, if needed. So, the sweet is definitely the main point here. But the bitter is still there. It reminds me that sometimes in life there are both glorious good and hard circumstances. At the same exact time. They work together for our good and His glory. This is why we need to live with open hands…to appreciate both parts of the chocolate.
The sweet reminds us of how Good our Father is.
The bitter reminds us to lean into the Father more.
Together, it’s a bittersweet chocolate like no other. And we keep coming back for more.
“Keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.” Hebrews 12:2 (HCSB)