40 years. 19 years. A long time whichever way you count it. Some pieces of your life are just hard to pack up and give away. How do you take something that represents a big part of your life, put it in a box, and mail it off to somewhere far away to people you don’t know?
My late wife Bev’s wedding dress has been around for 40 years. We were married in 1979. I have had the dress for 19 years since she passed away. Today I mailed it off to a place that converts old wedding dresses for burial shrouds for stillborn and early death babies.
You may wonder why I kept it so long. The simple answer is that I don’t know, but I wasn’t really ready till now. And you know what? It was still hard.
Maybe you have a friend who is grieving. It could be the loss of a child, or a spouse, a job, or a dream. And to you it seems to drag out forever. And you are tempted to tell them to “move on with your life” or “get over it.” Don’t. Please don’t. Just be grateful that you haven’t been in a position to know their grief. And even if you have experienced the same loss, it doesn’t mean that they have to fit to whatever timeline you had. Everyone is different.
When the time is right and their heart is sufficiently healed, they will act. In the meantime just give them all the grace you can muster and pray all the prayers for them that you can.
I am reminded today of the words from Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8:
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
And what if you are the person with the box to mail? Give yourself time. Eventually it will need to be mailed. You can do it too quickly and you can take too long, but give yourself the chance to mail it and the right time will come. I promise.