My sister told me today that her child had used the phrase, “I feel upside down.” to describe feeling a little ill. It occurred to me that, well, I feel the same. All of August felt very upside down and now here we are in September and I feel as if I have no idea what’s going on. As I had blogged before, August was going to be a bit of a heavy month (to say the least) with the one year anniversary of my husband’s death and also what would have been our fourth wedding anniversary. Both days, by God’s grace, did not take the toll I had thought they would. God was consistently, beautifully, reminding me of how well we are doing and what all He has led us through to get us (me especially) here. (“Here” being a place of healing.) I had no idea however, that wasn’t all the intensity (for lack of a nice word) August held for us. It also brought with it, the loss of my job. Minus some benefits we get from Canada, that job was our sole income. It paid the bills which, unlike work, are wonderfully consistent. ;-/ I know I’m certainly not the only person in this country, let alone others, to be in this boat suddenly, with no game plan. Thankfully, I’m not the Ref. I don’t have to know what all leads up to the outcome of the match. I don’t get to make the rules or throw down a flag when there is an offense. I’m also not the Coach. I certainly can’t bench myself when the game gets tough or when I feel too weak to go on.
At first, I freaked out. A midst tears, God reminded me of the book I have been reading through, Unglued by Lysa Terkerust. I was thankful this was at least proof the book was sinking in; that the idea of keeping my emotions in check, was one of my first thoughts. I was not however, successful at that moment. Since the moment I was laid off, the changes have been pouring in. My champ of a toddler, has rolled with the punches. Usually, toddlers aren’t a fan of anything that rocks the boat. Short of getting bored (insert “Grumpy” 😉 ) without kids to play with often however, he’s been doing pretty well. I took a childcare position at our church and that has us both there a few hours a week. I have also been doing some errand type work for my Dad’s business. I have not, in some time, felt both busy and yet uncommitted at the same time. Surely praying for the provision of stable, substantial work would be the end of crazy changes? Not so much.
All of a sudden, I’m planning to go to college. What?! Through a series of crazy, God-centered, circumstances….I have gone from focusing on how to buy groceries while praying for the right job to, the idea that this is just a pit-stop to me going to college and pursuing a career. What?! How did that happen? Mind. Officially. Blown. Oh right, I’ve been praying for just this for a year. For the last several months specifically, I have been asking God what He would have me pursue in place of dead-end job after dead-end job, knowing how hard it would be to continue to raise Logan that way. Now, as upside down as everything has been, I’m starting to see it as a blessing. (Did I just say that???) Would I have chosen to lose my job with no savings? Most definitely not. But again I remind myself, I’m just a member of the team. I’m not even the star player. (Not sure why sports metaphors keep popping out as I’m not really a fan of sports in general…haha) A phrase prevalent in our life this last year has been, “God was not surprised by this.” We are of course shocked when things hit the fan, but God never is. Sometimes it’s easy to think that we’d feel calm 100% of the time if God would just tell us how He planned to answer our needs. I don’t think that’s true though. Maybe we wouldn’t worry as much, per se, but I believe we’d obsess over how we thought each upcoming situation could better be handled. Either way, we get caught playing God more often than we’d like to admit. Isn’t that what we’re doing when we worry??
I’m trying not to the be the pilot right now. I’m trying not to even be like those silly bumper stickers and put God in the ‘co-pilot’ seat. I’m trying not to be overwhelmed and worrisome about all the logistics of current financial survival and close-future schooling that are falling on my plate to be dealt with. It seems it all has to be done this week, mixed with the craziness of every day life and promises for socialization. I’m trying not to sit here freaking out about how I’m going to enroll in a strict schooling schedule while raising a child alone. I’m trying not to freak out about how many hours are NOT in a day. I’m trying. I wanna do more than try. I wanna succeed. I wanna reign in my emotions. I wanna let it all go to the One who sits on the mercy seat. I wanna sing a new song. I wanna bask in the excitement God has given me for my future “career”/ministry. I wanna praise Him for picking me up from the ashes of what has burnt away. So I blogged. I chose to start with that; to pour it all out so I can go to Him open and ready for peace. I feel a little lighter now. A little less burdened by the weights..I feel ready to sit them in His capable hands and take on one task at time. Before I even think about tackling another item on the list though, I’m gonna make like my blog title and Kneel First. 😉
Did you know that 76% of statistics are made up on the spot? Did you know that 45% of statistics that we make up make us feel 34% better? Naturally, everything I just said is completely true and should be believed 100%. (22% of you will not believe it.)
I started reading an amazing book this weekend by Lysa Terkeurst called, Unglued. I am only on the second chapter and God has already showed me so much; an encouragement for more lessons to come. The book is about raw emotions and furthermore, how we react in the face of hard situations, especially as women. I definitely think anyone, male or female, could get a lot out of this book though.
We were all created with emotions. Emotions aren’t bad. They are God-given and it is only what we do with them that can turn them into something unintended. As I read through Chapter 2 tonight, one sentence that jumped out at me was “It’s actually the way God wired us.” (It is no accident that we can feel pain, pleasure, sadness, anger, happiness, etc.) In the sentences leading up to that statement, the author was speaking of perspective. Our perspective can change for better and for worse. Our perspective also has one other strong ability and that is to effect our entire way of thinking. Terkeurst broke down the connection between our perspectives and our learned patterns of thought. If route B appears faster to me for instance, than route A and I continually tell myself that, eventually in my mind route B is undeniably faster. You can tell me until you’re blue in the face that you have calculated it and A is quicker but I won’t believe you. I felt it to be true until, uncorrected, it became my pattern of thought. I allowed my feelings to determine my thoughts. That is just a simple example but undoubtedly, one we can all relate to. I am sure I have been wrong on more than one occasion about travel times. Haha.
Journaling as I read this evening, led my train of thought to go down the track that led to this blog. My mind began to expound on the idea of perspective and how that correlates with the often topic of there being “kinds of people.” I don’t disagree that we all have God-given personalities, we are raised in different ways, and that our experiences shape us. However, it occurs to me how easily we can use what we call our “personality” as an scapegoat for behavior. “There are ________ kinds of people in this world.” Fill in the blank with whatever number you choose. Like the idea of statistics, this statement often seems open to interpretation. There are people who are hot-headed, those are sensitive, and those who are generally laid-back. I’m gonna throw all that out for a minute, though. What if there is just one kind of person? Yes, we are all beautifully and creatively designed by the Father with unique qualities. But, if we dig deeper than that…If we look beneath the senses of humor, the ticks, we find that what we all have in common is that fact that we are sinners. Without the salvation and grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, we’re all doomed for the same eternity. Romans 3:22-24 Without God, all those little things that make us up don’t matter.
Even when we bring God’s love and rescue into the picture, we can often allow ourselves to pervert our uniqueness. Sometimes we choose to pass the buck off to Him for our lack of control. “Well, that’s just how I was made.” Really? Is it? Did God create anger? Yes. Did He create me to blow up at the drop of hat? No. We have to choose how we use the gift of emotions. Any mishandling of that gift is certainly not a design or fault of the Creator. God created sadness. That is a lesson I have been well acquainted with in this first year of grief. But as we all know, sadness too can spiral out of control if we allow it. We cannot then place it on the shoulders of being “overly sensitive.” Deep down, we are all broken, scared, and hurting people. It is not until we accept the gift of salvation and grace that our true personalities can be set free. Eph 2:8, Romans 3:24, Eph 1:7
So what does that mean? Are we really created to be hot-heads, control-freaks, overly sensitive, basket-cases, etc? Or, are all of those labels we buy into, merely proof that our emotions are not in check? God gives us the gift of free-will. We can choose. We have control over not things that happen to us, but how we handle those things. We have been given everything we need to live a healthy, God-centered thought life. We can change the way we think and act. The Bible says that we can transform our minds. Romans 12:2, 2 Cor 10:5 The Bible is our sword in the battle against our flesh. We must fight back by continually renewing our thoughts, correcting the flaws in our sinful pattern of thinking, until we are like Christ.
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Be Like Christ
2 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is anyfellowship of the Spirit, if any [a]affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete [b]by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing [c]from[d]selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude [e]in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be [f]grasped, 7 but [g]emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death[h]on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
Those don’t look scary, right? I mean, I’m no professional baker and it’s been a while since I made some cookies from scratch but, they look pretty tame. And yet, I was terrified to make them. Not, there’s-a-monster-chasing-you-and-you-broke-a-heel terrified, but instead these-particular-cookies-have-a-strong-emotional-memory-attached terrified. Deryck was a chef, if I haven’t mentioned that before. And yet, for the most part, I can cook meals easily that we ate together. However, peanut butter cookies have scared me for a while. He really loved them. My hubby was no stranger to a sweet tooth. We were matched perfectly in that way. These cookies though, were certainly his favorite to put together when it came to baking. Not a major holiday passed in our relationship I don’t think, without him whipping up a batch. Don’t think they were just reserved for holidays! No, sir. Anytime we found ourselves with an abundance of peanut butter (whether on purpose or by accident), he was planning away. Each batch was usually doubled and during the holidays, possibly even tripled! So, we totally shared a lot of cookies! Wrong. We shared very few. (Haha.) It was always my goal to share some, freeze some, and eat some. Any kind of temptation in my view I am likely to eat. Even if I’m not a huge fan of it. If something is in the freezer, I will forget about it for a while. It’s always nice to find a treat on a rainy day. Although, they didn’t stay in our freezer for long. He loved cookies.
Probably a couple of months, Logan got a cookie somewhere. I took a bite out of it and it took everything I had to swallow. It was peanut butter. Now, I’m not a fan of p.b. in general. There are few instances I will eat it. Pb cookies, being one of those examples. But the second that taste was in my mouth, I was flooded with emotions and memories, to the point of feeling ill. It’s funny (not in a haha way) how in grief, it’s a lot of little things. In the first stages of grief, each day had been filled with a ton of little things. They were consistently overwhelming. As days turned into months, they were fewer and farther between until they eventually became rare. This was one of those rare times. I almost wanted to ask, “How could a cookie open up that wound so greatly?” but I knew the answer.
Now that I’m a one year veteran, (which means I’ve learned a lot, but have much more to go) I knew that I was going to have to battle the cookies at some point. Do I need to eat them? No. I could do without cookies. But the pain wasn’t just in eating them. Often, we had made them together. We had wiped dough on each other’s noses or tossed flour in the air. It was something playful. A very good memory, now tainted by the pain of his loss. I decided I was going to reclaim it! It was mine and I was not going to let Satan have it. So I took it back. Today, with our son, I made the scary cookies. We laughed together as he stuck his (clean) finger straight into the sugar. We had fun. He enjoyed some thoroughly after he napped. As for me, well I successfully reclaimed that memory. If I wanna eat a peanut butter cookie, I can feel free to. Most importantly, with joy.
**If anyone would like the recipe I used, just let me know. These cookies are gluten-free, dairy-free, and flourless.
Today’s title may be the longest yet, but I felt that I should lend a little more to it than the first half. As my son get’s older and as we progress with it just being the two of us, I am learning more about being a mom, a single mom, and most importantly a patient, loving, God-fearing mom. The other night however, I was acting more like the child rather than the parent.
A few days ago I saw a train toddler bed on a swap group through Facebook. (This Momma spends too much time on said site but at least this time it was productive.) I had been thinking about ways to make Logan’s room feel more complete and enjoyable. It’s not like he was hurting or anything. But, when we moved here everyone was gracious to help out with this piece of furniture and that piece so his room was very…eclectic ;-). Looking for new (to us) pieces wasn’t about matching (despite some of my o.c.d. tendencies). Instead, I realize it was and is part of the bigger picture of making this, of admitting this is, our home now. It was both acceptance and contentment. Perhaps that sounds far too deep for the topic of purchasing a bed for my toddler but if you are a single parent through grief, you likely understand. (Or even if you have simply gone through grief and know what it means to move forward. ) The bed was his not even a whole day after I inquired about it and boy was he excited! Logan is, for lack of anything not cliche, the “typical boy” in many ways. Cars, Thomas the Train, Spongebob, Mickey Mouse, and anything related to construction, firetrucks, and police cars are frequent topics in our house. One of the few things he will play with by himself for more than ten minutes is his ever-growing train set.
When we got the bed home, it was late though I felt it would be awful to tell him that he couldn’t sleep in it the first night. I chose to let him stay up late and play while I took down his daybed and assembled the train. The last two parts were by far the worst part of my thinking. Being past his bed time, he was tired and maybe a little grumpy but ultimately I was more so. It had been a long several days, my back was not having a better day (if I have not mentioned it on here, I have a fracture in my back that causes pain every day varying in severity.) as I’d not been to the chiropractor in days, and it was already approaching 10pm. I usually start to wind down around that time so my body and mind were very ready for veg mode. All of this was, mixed with a couple of other things, a ticking time bomb. As I started taking the daybed apart I noticed that some of the screws were partially stripped-an added coin beginning the tipping of the scale…After who knows how long, I finally got it taken down and put away into his closet. During that time the pain in my back worsened with all the strain-more coins on the scale. Barely able to moved without pain, I obviously had to keep going, right? I am not great at letting things go once I’m in the middle of it. So I brought all the pieces of the train together in his room, ready to assemble. I took a moment trying to remember what the lady had said to me about which pieces to put together first. It was too late. My brain had already shut down for the night, despite my stubbornness feeling quite awake. The first three sections went together without a hitch. I told my son that he had about five more minutes to play because I would be done soon. I was oh, soooo wrong. A million hours later, I was ready to cry in pain as I took apart and redid sections over and over. But then, my near tears became about more than the pain. There I was lifting up one piece while trying to hold another still, unsuccessfully and it hit me (like a train…haha) that this was yet another thing in a series of others past and future that I was going to have to do alone. I don’t mind serving my son as his mother. It’s the best job and I love it no matter how hard it is. It wasn’t about the tiring work we do as moms. (Though I have my moments with that topic.) This pain was more than physical. It was hurt of continued acceptance along with the odd partner of joy for my faith through it all that I’m not just raising Logan alone…Deryck isn’t here to help me put a bed together, to tell me if the picture is hung straight, or to grab that last bag when my hands are full. He isn’t here to call me out on being stupidly frustrated with a plastic bed to the point of my grunting and screaming. He isn’t here to remind me not to let myself become unglued and exaggerate a situation. We kept each other level in those moments of stumbling. The difference is now, he doesn’t need me anymore for that. He is perfectly whole in the presence of God. But I still need him. My heart needs him. With God, I can tackle any task as a single mom, let alone a human being. I think though, as part of all of this, no matter what happens, God will always allow my heart to “need” him. I don’t mean in an unhealthy or before God, kinda way. It’s hard to explain. When you lose a spouse, you are left with a tugging on your heart that isn’t lack of joy or discontentment.
There are things that friends and family lovingly step in to do when a loss happens. Not stumbling, and honestly not straight up sinning like a foolish child, is something I have to keep myself accountable on. Even if he was still here to remind me to chill out, I would like then, be just as responsible for the condition of my heart. We all have bad days, undoubtedly. We all fall. When you feel like a toddler bed is ruining your life though (even if you would NEVER say that out loud in the moment), it might be time for a gut check. I am thankful for the fact that even during my anger the Holy Spirit showed me the bigger picture, the source. If I had been that upset over literally just the bed, that would have been scary. It was clearly much deeper. My heart ached along with my back.
We are nearing the one year anniversary of Deryck’s death. That in no small way played an important role in my attitude. Off and on, this month has been very difficult. Part of me fears August 2nd. Part of me is not sure what to do with that day. And part of me reluctantly feels a bit of relief that one year will be under our belts. I have been told of the challenges and pains years Two and Three bring. Right now though, its as if I’m back at the beginning of the process, having to remember to take one day at a time. August also brings our wedding anniversary. Last year would have been our 3rd. It’s gonna suck. I hope it sucks in a way though that teaches me more and more how to live for the King.
At nearly 3:30 a.m. I should not be starting a post. I should be sleeping. Sometimes though, there are more important things. Sometimes, a little insomnia is a good thing. “Tonight” I find it to be just that. In the morning, I will not necessarily agree. I will be tired and maybe a little bit grumpy. But right now, this time is necessary. I am on the journey of the necessary, the difficult, the painful, and the joyful. Each moment comes as it needs to. If you are going through grief, you may understand all too well what I mean. A quote I was given by a friend read, “Whatever your emotions, tell yourself that it’s all right to feel them”.–Words of Comfort for Times of Loss (I will follow that with the obvious truth that this does not of course apply to every area of life.)
I love adventure. But, I don’t like to get lost while I am driving. Go figure. It’s an issue of control I think. I don’t like to go somewhere for the first time on just verbal directions. I need more than that;I prefer to use the navigator.
Sometimes however, the navigator leads you on an unexpected journey. That happened the week before last. Our trip to the mountains to go hiking for the day was full of unexpected events.
I was off of work that Friday so with all the beautiful weather I decided that I would take my son on his first hike. Whenever we have a chance I try to make sure we spend quality time together and not just quantity time. .something fun, bonding, and memory-making..it is an especially necessary balance as a single mother.
We got up early that morning. I had planned out everything and put all our stuff together, the night before. I knew I was going to have to stop at the store to get a backpack for the hike. Two hours after I had planned for us to leave town, we were leaving the store. I chose to just embrace it instead of getting frustrated (I am on a journey of trying to be a less frustrated Momma). Since we were leaving later than I wanted though, I decided to map out the trip from the store straight to the hiking trail. I knew how to get there but was curious if there was a shorter way.
I am not sure if the unplanned, unintended route was shorter, though I suspect is was due to lack of tourist traffic. One thing I am sure of though, is that it was a beautiful, awe-inspiring drive. A truly blessed beginning to the day, no doubt.
God knows my heart. He knows every aspect of me, including my love and appreciation for the country and for nature. He also knew that due to not wanting to feel lost, I would question the direction I’d been led in at times: wondering if we were going the right way; thinking perhaps we should turn back to find a new course. But He spurred me on and rewarded my perseverance with one of the best drives I’ve ever taken! I wish I’d pulled over and taken pictures at times. The backroads were filled with downhome restaurants, local shops, produce stands, etc. And then the hills, the trees, the views of the mtns as we got closer and closer, oh my goodness! Not to mention, I love a good windy road and there were plenty. 😉
Another unplanned aspect of the trip was the fact that Logan did not nap on the way. I had expected him to take his normal nap or at least a portion of it on the way there. I did not succeed in avoiding frustration over that. But, as we arrived, parked, and walked to the starting point, he began to perk up. We started the hike (left the car ten minutes away) at noon, with lunch in the backpack, my camera, and excitement.
The trail up and back down was 2.6 miles and my two year walked the whole way!! The trek up didn’t take much bribery. He was so determined to see the waterfall at the top, taking breaks to sit as he needed them. Once we got to the top we sat by the falls and ate our lunch.
Lunch gave us both the engery we needed as we headed back down. A few minutes later, the tiredness set in. Not only was Logan tired from the walk up, but also from a skipped nap. That is when I began to see even more of the God-given determination and strength my little boy has. Whenever he got to the point of thinking he couldn’t walk any further, I would redirect his attention by letting him jump in a puddle, by talking about the train we were going to ride after dinner, or by pointing out some of our surroundings. With that, but still just as tired, he would push through. Time and again he would push through, going beyond what he thought he was capable of. Three hours later, we were back at the car, celebrating our accomplishment.
Logan quickly passed out as I began the normal drive back, to stop in Pigeon Forge for dinner and some more fun. The drive was quiet, leaving me to ponder this blog. I thought about my own perseverance on an unknown drive and in the grander picture, throughout this last (nearly) year of grief. This of course was no proof of my strength but inside of Christ within me and all the times He pushed me forward through redirection. I also thought about Logan-about the beautiful characteristics God took the time to design and place within him.
God knew the drive we would take that day. He knew it would rain as we hiked and how much better that would make it. He knew Logan would get tired but press on. And He knew that with my fractured back, He was going to bless me with the ability to do the hike. Most of all, He knew the spiritual connection we would make with each other and with Him that day.
He knows the plans He has for us. Each and every one. Big and small. Sometimes those plans require redirection from Him and often they require pressing on from us.
When you were little, whether or not you had siblings, you were likely told time and again to share. You may have even heard the saying,”Sharing is caring.” If we care about others, we will share our toys, our lives, our experiences, etc. This lesson is not confined to childhood. It is timeless. Yet, sometimes it seems we forget. Sometimes, it gets harder to share the difficult things as we get older. Even with our spouse, family, and friends we might have to fight the temptation to keep it all inside. I felt that God made it clear very early in grief that I was to share this process. I’m glad that I listened (while I will say I wish I had more time to blog it out consistently). It has not always been easy. I grew up shoving all my emotions inside. I have battled that inclination as an adult. Grief itself, is also not an easy source to share from, largely because it is an uncomfortable topic for anyone on the outside. Death touches all of our lives. That is not something anyone wants to accept or talk about. Even amongst the Church, the topic of death is rarely spoken of outside of the context of Heaven. Of course, Heaven is never a bad thing to talk about! However, as Christians, as humans, we are ill-prepared for the inevitable sadness.
At first, grief may feel like a lack of trust in God’s plan. I struggled not with that feeling so much as with people implying and often outwardly telling me that was the case. About two weeks after Deryck died, I decided to brave returning to church. I say “brave” because it was a beautifully small church in the tiny town we resided in and I knew that even walking through the door would mean stares, hugs, handshakes, etc. The sermon and a series of videos were on salvation. The stories in the videos were wonderful but they were also very difficult to hear. As the service let out, an elderly woman caught me and said, “It must make you feel so happy to know that Deryck is in Heaven.” She said a few other things but the idea was that she thought that sermon had to have been very uplifting for me because Deryck was a believer and because I know he is in Heaven. I can say that was clearly a comfort-knowing he was safe and well instantly with our Heavenly Father. Early on in grief though, if I am going to be honest, (for myself and for others on this journey that I have spoken to) that doesn’t make you feel any better. It doesn’t make you happy. It just feels at that time like a little bit of relief from the sting. The pain is still there, as is the overwhelming sadness. For the first few months, the only time I felt happy about my husband’s new home was the day of his funeral. God gave me an amazing amount of peace as I stood to speak in front of everyone. I am grateful for that time; it allowed me to say exactly what I wanted to say about him and more. It allowed me to praise God through his life. A day like that did not come again for a while.
In the last ten months, I have had little time to wallow or become too wrapped up in grief for more than moments at a time. (By that, I mean, the kind of grief where you don’t even get out of bed.) Logan is largely the reason for that. He keeps me busy, motivated, and honest with my feelings to the point that I have been blessed to deal with them. Even with that, has come the judgement at times that in my moments of allowing myself to just be sad, I am somehow sinning. Let me be frankly clear to anyone who has thought that about someone grieving…it is not true. Can it be true? Of course. Like with any other stage of life, we can always find a way to sin. The sadness in and of itself though, is not a sin. We are human, designed so by God to experience a myriad of emotions in this life. Sadness and anger are two that tend to get a bad wrap for merely existing because of how we often deal with them (a result on our part that can be sinful). Both were created by God. Grief in its entirety was created by God. Grief is a result of a fallen, sinful world because death is. But the journey of grief is not one of sin. It is one of sadness for the loss of a loved one, sadness for yourself, and if you have a child, sadness for them.
Where I believe sin often does creep into grief is when there is a lack of sharing. I know that when I have given into more than just healthy sadness, I have sinned. Generations and cultures alike deal with grief differently. One way or another though, you have to get it out. It has to become about more than you, even when you don’t feel the peace of God or understand why. If you don’t find a way to share this experience with others or at the very least, outside of yourself, it will consume you. That can become difficult to do when you have been knocked down more than once by the reactions or lack of reactions by others when you do share. I have gone through that quite a bit with friends and family alike. (I have noticed that in ways, strangers can have the best, most honest reactions.) As I mentioned earlier, grief makes people uncomfortable, even some who have gone through a loss of their own at a point in their life. I had little understanding of it myself before Deryck passed and fear that I too, most likely fell into the category of undesirable responses to someone on that journey. One of my goals in sharing all of this and whatever is to come, is to possibly help anyone in it now or the friend or relative of someone going through a loss.
It has become a bit of a mission I guess. I feel called to share all of this messy stuff for more than my own benefit. I pray that it helps even one person deal with their own messy emotions in a way that pleases God.
John 20:10-18 NASB
So the disciples went away again to their own homes. But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'” Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.
Can you imagine going to mourn the loss of a loved one and finding they were not where you were told? The place where laid, empty, except for two angels? Angels. You probably haven’t met any before and in your shock, may not be able to even slightly grasp what they are…
And then they just look at you and ask you why you’re crying. Of course, it was obvious. I mean, you’re standing in a TOMB. But of course, there was more to their question than appeared. They are trying to show you that your friend, your Lord, is no longer at rest.
You tell them why you’re upset and then turn around to see the gardener, who asks you the same question. What’s with everyone? Here you are, mourning, and on top of that you can’t find the body and people are asking you why you are crying?! You are so focused on that, you initially miss the shining glory of the One in front of you.
I know mourning. To some degree, grief will always be a part of our lives. Whether grief or other pain though, how often do we allow ourselves to be so consumed that we miss the glory of the Lord, right in front of us? Pain is real. We live in a fallen world. However, we don’t have to wait until we come out on the other side of that pain to meet with Christ. Let Him meet with you where you are.
Last week, after getting off work early, I decided to spontaneously take Logan to the park instead of going home. It was a specific park that I had not yet been to since we moved back to this area. It was one of our parks. We had two: the park where we were married and this park, where we had our first date. Our first date there was pretty memorable. Not just for the fact that he came all the way from Canada and then we had our first date, but also for the fact that he killed my mac that night. He asked me to bring it because he had compiled a playlist on my iTunes. I don’t know why I didn’t just bring my iPod but alas, the roses he gave me spilled on the table when a gust of wind blew into the lakeside gazebo. And that, my friends, was the end of my mac. So sad. I loved my mac. He had survived the travel and elements of Africa only to be murdered by some roses.
We arrived at the park just as it was getting a little breezy. Normally I don’t really like the wind. I don’t know why. (unless it’s storming..then I like it) But when you’re at a park with a beautiful lake, it just seems right. We looked at the collection of ducks from the dock, played on the playground for a few minutes, and then made our way to the shore. I showed Logan the boats and he was naturally, in awe. We sat there for a few more minutes, took some pictures, and then began to comb the “beach.” The tide was out so there was plenty to explore. Logan picked up rock after rock, stick after stick. I came across a piece of driftwood that was in the shape of a gun. He thought that was pretty cool. After that, I started picking up more driftwood..thinking of a project I could do in the house. As we walked along, I snapped pictures and continued thinking about each piece of wood, warn, changed, battered by the water. I couldn’t help but see the similarities.
I feel a lot like a piece of driftwood. I was pulled into the tides of grief, washed over, held down underneath the water and tossed around. At the first chance to come up, it was clear I would never be the same and that the strength of this water was overwhelming. I didn’t dive in. The swim was forced on me. I can either paddle with all the might I can find in Christ, or I can stay under, holding my breath and hoping it’ll pass. Regardless, I will not look the same as I did before.