The Bitter and the Sweet

by Andrea Kolber


There’s something about traveling that stirs me. I feel alive and connected and alone all at once.

Recently we took a trip where we saw family and vacationed at the same time. This was significant for us because we don’t live near any relatives and we very much enjoy seeing them. Both my husband and I highly value our families and constantly struggle with the tension of living almost smack dab in between Oregon and Illinois.

Our trip was a gloriously chaotic time, which makes sense when you combine a 3 year old with a theme park, missed naps and long flights. But it was special for our little family; restorative, fun and hopeful. Time away always gives me much needed perspective on our life and journey and I have been craving that for a while now. But the detail I always forget is how bittersweet it can be.  

It’s hard for me to put my finger on the longing that I feel when I travel, especially after seeing people who are so dear to me. But of course, the inability to articulate it doesn’t change the reality. I felt it most poignantly this trip when I said goodbye to my younger brother at the airport.

After rushed travelling, car sickness and logistics were figured out, the weight of a goodbye sat on my chest in the humid Orlando departure lane. As I faced the reality that I won’t get to see him again soon, the lump in my throat began to form and my eyes burn as the parting comes too quick. When we hugged, I let myself feel sad because I was. But I felt that sadness at the same time I felt immensely grateful, because I was.  I love my brother, and his wife and my in laws…and I wish it didn’t always end too soon.

This experience reminded me of each precious connection that I wish I had the energy, resources and time to foster and grow.

And that’s the crux of the thing. I don’t have all the energy, time and resources and so I don’t get to be there for all the things I would like.

I wish I could go visit each of my ten nieces and nephews, especially the newest twin girls.

I wish my daughter’s grandparents could see every new change as she transforms under my eyes.  

I wish my siblings and sibling in laws could come over for Sunday dinner and hang out on our patio.

And I wish I could have hugged my mom on her birthday.

But the thing I’ve been noticing is that even if we all lived in some weird tight little bubble where we were connected at the hip, we would probably still have some of this feeling. It’s the feeling that things will continue to change and grow no matter what and you can’t stop it.

So whether you live across the country or down the street from your precious people, you probably know this feeling. We all will face it at some point, some just more frequently than others.

But when I’m tempted to just crawl in a cave and walk away from the connections that are bittersweet, because let’s be honest— feeling those feelings isn’t always easy—I remember that the bitter offsets the sweet. That protecting myself from the bitter actually causes me to numb the sweet. We can’t dull one set of feelings. We either feel the whole spectrum, or we get to feel nothing.

So I choose to feel it all.

I choose to recognize that while I don’t have all of the time energy and resources, I do have some. So I’ll do my best to steward that well and love well, and live fully right in the place God has me; because I don’t want to miss a thing.  

 

Linking up this week over at: 3dlessons4life