The Happy and the Heart-Breaking


Last week, the Senate failed to pass immigration reform, including a solution for Dreamers. I felt so sad and angry. And I almost wasn't even sure how to process this gross negligence with real people's lives. 

And then I got ready to go to prom.

Yes, adult prom. It was everything you can imagine it to be. I spent the evening with my lifelong date, dancing to 90's hits in heels that made my feet hurt.  

Aren't these types of emotional whiplash moments familiar to us all? For me, it often happens on social media. You know that feeling when you're scrolling your newsfeed and it goes something like: cat eating a popsicle, snuggly newborn, a friend from high school now has cancer? The happy and the heart-breaking are pressed so close to each other, it's hard to distinguish which emotions I'm feeling at any moment.

It also happens in my offline life. A couple of years ago, we spent Father's Day weekend at the Stewart Detention Center, visiting with immigrant detainees. On the phone and across thick glass, we chatted with men in prison jumpsuits - many of whom are fathers - about their hobbies, favorite cities, deportation proceedings, and faith.

We watched young kids cry as they said goodbye to their dad, who was scheduled to be deported later that week. Then, after such an emotional day, we came home and watched soccer.

The following day, we celebrated Billy by taking the kids to eat Mexican food and then to our first family movie theater experience with Finding Dory. Billy and I savored the joy in our kids' faces as we passed the popcorn and tried to keep the seats from closing in and folding up their tiny little bodies.

But if you've seen Finding Dory, you know it's also a movie about families being separated. In one scene, we learn how Dory's parents have been searching for her since she disappeared, and I straight up began sobbing. It's amazing what parents will do to be with their children.

The happy and the heart-breaking. So close together it's hard to distinguish sometimes. 

Glennon Doyle says it this way: "Life is brutal. But it's also beautiful. Brutiful, I call it. Life's brutal and beautiful are women together so tightly that they can't be separated. Reject the brutal, reject the beauty. So now I embrace both, and I live well and hard and real."

Once again, I'm reminded how these two conflicting experiences intertwine. Sometimes I worry it's frivolous to have a good time in the face of global and local heartache and devastation. But I'm also reminded that our God celebrates and that this practice can sustain us through the challenges we face. And to have the beautiful without the difficult simply isn't possible. 

I want to embrace the brutiful. It is an ongoing tension to be sure.

P.S. There is still a sliver of time to make a difference for Dreamers before March 5. The Global Immersion Project has put together a helpful resource called 20 Days of Action for Dreamers. I encourage you to check it out!