This morning as I was reading from a book on waiting I realized that a grieving season is waiting. Maybe one of the toughest waiting seasons that life has to offer. If you have been following my blog you know that I am grieving the loss of my husband and the life we shared together. I struggle with the desire to move ahead .. I need to stay in this season until the Lord does His healing work in my heart.
Grieving tends to be misunderstood in our culture and that can make a season like this all the more challenging. Now that almost 11 months have passed since Steve went to be with the Lord, I know that there are those who say.. you need to move on and think about the good things the Lord has for you. First of all there is no such thing as moving on.. you never move on and leave behind the person you love.. You move ahead and take them with you.. their presence is what enables you to want to keep living.. it is as though they are cheering you on.. telling you to live your life fully..
Grief has no timetable.. none. Everyone who experiences a great loss needs to take as much time as it takes and no one can say anything about that. That does not mean that they are supposed to just keep grieving and not receive healing . Both of these things happen together. It requires a desire to grieve fully but not without hope that God has plans that He has not revealed.. I find this to be very difficult. There are days when a grief attack occurs and I am a total mess.. as though the loss occurred yesterday and there are days when I am very hopeful and believing that the Lord has an amazing plan for me.
All of this involves waiting. Waiting on the Lord and waiting for the Lord. The sadness makes it difficult to believe anything good can happen again and waiting for something that is totally invisible is very hard.. My season of grief a a transitional time and it is a time of preparation.. the problem is what I am transitioning to and what am I being prepared for? So I am waiting and trusting in the goodness of God.
For me, I fall back on His sovereignty.. believing with all my heart that He loves me and will carry me forward in His time. My heart is heavy with the loss but my spirit is remembering His faithfulness and choosing to believe the best.. even on very bad days.. Clinging to Him and calling on Him all the time… So have grace for those who are grieving, they are all around you and they need your understanding and patience. Nothing is worse for a griever than to feel as though their feelings are wrong and they are disappointing the people who care about them.
Our culture is saturated with people who are facing all types of loss and Covid created many more losses than anyone realizes.. I am praying to be one of the people who reaches out to the broken hearted and brings comfort…so that my own pain is not wasted. Remember when Jesus quoted from this passage in Isaiah? It is our mission in these times.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a] to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning
I woke up thinking about this journey and how hard it is.. my usual morning thoughts. I knew Steve was going to die and I tried to prepare myself for the day when I would lose him. Of course that is impossible. We cannot be prepared for the death of someone we love no matter how hard we may try.. once they are gone the waves of grief sweep over us and we can only hang on and wait for the next one.
He is gone..yes I know where he is.. but that does not always help. I thought of the wall that divides us from our loved ones once they move out of this world. It is so hard.. we know they are there, but we cannot see over that wall or climb over it or see through it.. It feels like they are within our reach but that wall stands in the way..
I try to talk with him and tell him things.. wondering if he can hear me .. trying desperately to imagine that he is able to know what is happening to me. My heart aches to hear his voice and at times I hear it in my head.. telling me not to worry or be fearful.. reminding me that I can continue without him.. it helps and it doesn’t. I want to tear down that veil and run into his arms.. to tell him that I love him and that I miss him.. my heart breaks into a million pieces.. I gather them up and keep going.
This is grief my friends.. it is real and it is hard and we were never created to be able to endure it alone. I am so thankful for my friends and family .. for those who support me and help me keep his memory alive. I am most thankful for the Lord.. the God who carries me through each day.. even the days when I tell Him I hate Him and all He does is wait patiently so He can love me again.. He picks me up off the floor and tells me to rest.. to let him restore me.. to let Him bring healing to me in the midst of the darkness.. He is with me and for me and I know this.. I can run from Him but there is no where to go.. I try to blame Him but I know that this death is a result of our broken world and not punishment from Him.. He is good.
He has Steve now ..He loved him so much that He rescued him .. he is reunited with those who went before him.. released from the suffering and the pain.. safely home.
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
I wonder if anyone will be reading this today.. it is such a busy time of the year.. Maybe I am writing this just for me and that’s OK too. This has been a long year for me and the most difficult year of my life.. the end is in sight and sometime in the first week in January I will be moving again.. I moved three months ago and that was very traumatic.. I pray everyday that the Lord will help me make another transition and that His Grace will sustain me.
Life is so unpredictable.. the future is so unclear and that is really for everyone not just me. We never know what will happen next to turn our lives inside out or upside down.. life is so fragile but we try not to think about that. It is so easy to get comfortable and to forget that this life can change in a moment. I am not writing this to upset anyone.. after all it is Christmas Eve and isn’t it a time to celebrate? For some of us that is exactly what will be happening but for others.. including myself, it is a lonely night and a sad night because people we love are missing from our lives and no one can take their place. I am going to visit my husband in skilled nursing today and he will not understand that it is Christmas Eve or that I am lonely because we no longer live together and he is ill. Maybe that is for the best.. but he will be very glad to see me as he is every day and he will tell me that he loves me as he does every time.. even though he has lost much of his ability to remember and to speak clearly he still has his whole heart and the spirit of God is still working through him.. I am so grateful.
I feel very vulnerable sharing this with you.. but somehow my blog seems like the place to express the real things in my life.. something I probably need to do right now. So this is a hard day for me.. a hard season.. a hard year. Next week I will have another birthday and remember that 18 years ago on my birthday my husband asked me to marry him. He is still the love of my life and will always be.. I am thankful for all these years.. even the current ones that have been so challenging. I have learned to treasure the moments because I don’t know how many more I will have.. I have discovered that this life is fleeting and we never know when it will end or when someone we love might get sick or die.. It is out of our hands..
Probably the biggest gift of this season is the way I able to see the Lord caring for me and guiding my steps as I stumble along. He makes himself known in many different ways each day. He works through His people to encourage and love me.. He is truly Emmanuel.. GOD WITH US! It is not just a name… it is who He is..
I need him every minute of every day just to continue to have hope and to believe that He will bring good out of this tragedy.. there is no other way to survive. So the name Emmanuel has become real to me this year and I am thankful.
My prayer for you is that you encounter the Lord in this season.. that the things of this world will disappear as you come close to Him.. in your brokenness.. in your grief and sadness.. Christmas is a time to be real with Him to allow Him to become more real to you.. We live in dark times and there are so many things that steal our joy and hope in this dark world.. We need Him more than ever.. He is our sanctuary, our peace and our hope.
What happened this week? Two celebrities that many people admired and believed in are gone. Both of them took their own lives and left behind young daughters. It is profoundly sad and tragic. As I think through this horrible loss, I realize once again how little we know about people and the pain they carry inside. These people did not just decide in one day to take their own lives.. there is history here. More than likely they were struggling with depression and despair for years before this happened. Anxiety and depression are at epidemic proportions in our country and possibly around the world. We live in a broken world and it is so easy to feel overwhelmed and under water emotionally. When someone in the public eye decides to take their own life.. it causes widespread grief to spread throughout the culture and the world. Why? We never saw it coming.. they seemed to be doing so well. Yet we are faced with a different reality.. obviously they were not doing well at all and maybe someone should have seen it coming.
So we have to process this loss and hopefully we will take it seriously by realizing that many people are struggling with the desire to end their own lives. The suicide rate has risen 25% in the US since 1999. That statistic tells us that something is terribly wrong. For many of us.. life is nothing like we hoped it would be.. either our dreams are not coming true or they have come true and we still feel empty. Either way this world does not seem to have much to offer us. We need more than the fulfillment of our desires to hang on to..we need someone to turn to when it gets so bad we cannot see a way out. Without faith.. we are totally lost. We were never meant to do all this alone. I remember knowing this when I was a child growing up in an atheist home with unbelieving parents. Somehow I realized that I could not do life alone like they were.. my heart longed for the Living God. Eventually I found out that He longed for me too and that was 40 years ago.
So today.. so many years later I still know that I cannot do it alone.. especially in the middle of the night when the tears are flowing and the hopeless tries to take over. He is my refuge and my sanctuary and He will rescue me as I call out to Him. I truly hope you are in relationship with this amazing God who gave everything so you could come to Him, rest in Him and trust Him.
Don’t entertain any self-destructive thoughts.. find someone to talk with and never make a rash decision that you have nothing to live for.. You are the beloved child of the Lord and He knows you and accepts you and will never leave you.
Have you ever felt like you were falling? What I mean is the feeling that you are not going to be able to keep standing under your current circumstances..it’s all just too much..you wonder..will I make it this time? How is this all going to work out? Everything seems out of control and uncertain. Do you know what I am writing about? I wish you were here so we could talk about this.. it is such an important topic.
Life is always throwing unexpected challenges our way. We suddenly find ourselves underwater. Which way is up? We are swimming and swimming hoping we can come to the top for air before it is too late. We grow weary..we are drained..worn out and discouraged. Our hearts are heavy and our spirits are sagging under the weight of it all. There are seasons like that for all of us and sometimes they happen right around the holidays..in fact they often seem to coincide with this time of the year.
Our culture says..be happy..spend money..pretend that everything is wonderful. Sometimes our churches do something similar. Rejoice..give thanks..God is good..Romans 8:28..we are supposed to embrace this season with the joy of the Lord. What if we really don’t feel that way right now? It is OK..in fact it’s more than OK.. it is often the most difficult time to rejoice. Grief comes to the surface during the holidays..old grief and new grief. Old wounds are opened by family gatherings. Unpleasant memories are triggered by familiar faces.
This season reminds us of those who are gone from our presence and won’t be celebrating with us. Every holiday can trigger those memories and bring a sweet sadness to the surface. It is the way God made us. He created us to feel deeply and to remember. So what are we supposed to do with all this? Take it all to Him..be honest..don’t cover up..ask for His help and don’t condemn yourself for being human. He is with you and He knows all this anyway..nothing is hidden from His sight.
Spend time in His presence and let Him open those old wounds..don’t be afraid to cry. Tears bring restoration and healing..He has great things for you..trust Him with your whole heart.
“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best. Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over. But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline; don’t sulk under his loving correction. It’s the child he loves that God corrects; a father’s delight is behind all this. ”