Goodness and Grief

I am not ready to let go. The tears and memories still come to the surface, far too quickly, and for this I hold immense gratitude. I am still holding the glorious faces, stories, words, and brilliant questions of those who went through our institute. The beautiful work was done in partnership and communion alongside colleagues who desired to act justly, walk humbly, and love mercy. They called forth beauty, reconciliation, truth, and goodness. It was a taste of heaven. Our offerings were kingdom-minded, love-filled, and truly transformational. This work found me; I didn’t have to go looking for it. I had my radical encounter a few years prior with this world-class platform and eventually got to dip my toes into being on the team that offered the goodness and care that I had previously received.

This place gave me space to dream, create, lead, hold sacred stories, and live into the fullness of whom God calls me to be. I stepped into the room with confidence as a follower of Jesus, in all my feminine glory, and with a deep honor for my Pakistani and Indian heritage.

This space was also where I saw the Imago Dei displayed among my colleagues. The gifts, voices, ferocious love, and brilliance were absolutely stunning. My colleagues held a high level of honor, resiliency, humility, and loyalty that was communicated through a mutual “I got your back” posture. The goodness of this space was that we led well, cared well, fought well, and reconciled well with the view of Oneness etched on our hearts. What I miss most about this group is the way in which we called one another to a deeper humility while equally and simultaneously uplifting one another to see ourselves with immense glory.

When I heard the news that the end of this platform had come to be, it felt like a deep and dear friend had just passed away. There was confusion, bargaining, desire, and a small thread of hope lingering in what felt like foolishness, that it would continue. When something is so good, it’s heartbreaking to let go and move forward without it. Especially when that goodness is aligned with the kingdom of God.

The balancing act for me is knowing how to hold on to the goodness of what was and allowing myself to let go with honor and gentleness. Sometimes I have wondered if letting go means it will hold less value. Or does moving on mean I don’t care about it anymore? Or should I just accept that nothing like this taste of heaven will touch my lips again on this side of heaven? These are honest questions I have allowed myself to ponder in the midst of the heartache.

I recently heard a wise man say there are people who let go too quickly and people who hold on far too long. I don’t want to hold on so tightly that I lose the new and fresh opportunities of goodness in front of me and yet I don’t want to walk away and dismiss the heartache and the joy that I hold.

How can I hold the goodness and grief in balance?

I don’t have it all figured out, but I think the answer to my own question is to do it with openness, assurance, and honor, moment by moment.

Openness to me is reflected in a hand stretched open and lifted up. Whatever comes, may I have an open hand and may this be reflective of an open heart. If there are days of deep utter heartache and lament, then let it be so. If there are days of remembering and savoring the beauty of what was, then may those come in abundance.

Assurance helps me hold confidence in the taste of heaven that touched my lips and affirm that it was as good as I remember. Assurance also brings the promise of what is yet to be and that which will be unmatched when we feast together in the kingdom of God. Assurance gives me permission to rest in the midst of holding the grief and gratitude.

Honor is the posture I desire to have towards myself in the moments of unexpected grief, righteous anger, and wanting to hold tightly to the particular beauty of this environment that once surrounded me. I can hold honor instead of judgment for the hard days and for the days that uplift my soul as I remember.

There is an ongoing balancing act of the what was, what is, and what will be. I have tasted something of goodness and LIFE here in the land of the living and yet in the same breath, I have also tasted such bitter heartache. May I be a woman who honors and holds both with great integrity.

Sandhya Oaks is a ministry leader, speaker, writer, and advocate. Born in India and adopted as a Transracial Adoptee in the Midwest, she has been serving with Cru Campus Ministry for more than 13 years and loves developing students and staff. She is the co-founder of The Adoption Triad, a social media group that provides community and resources to those connected to adoption and foster care. Her passion to walk with adoptive families is being lived out through leading virtual Transracial Adoption Parent Groups with Restoration Counseling. Sandhya recently moved to Colorado and spends her free time camping, sipping coffee with friends, and creating tasty charcuterie boards.