Well, I obviously think this is a blog worth reading. Grateful for the chance to share about the only One who makes it possible to rejoice through tears!
I met her twenty years ago, before either of us had met Jesus. Back then she sat in her recliner opposite the matching one her husband occupied, wearing what I would come to recognize as her typical uniform of worn out flannel and faded sweatpants. Hair cropped short and not a stitch of artificial color on it, or her face, she sported twenty year old glasses and a deep, rough, smokers laugh as she told stories of hunting and “mudding” and cleaning fish with her bare teeth. Okay, I made up the last part about her teeth, but she definitely cleaned her own fish, along with anyone else’s. She was “butch” before being butch was cool. She fascinated and scared me in equal measures…and I was dating her son.
Over the next several years, we’d shop together, eat together, smoke together and laugh together. Turned out she wasn’t as scary as she seemed and neither was her son. I married him and gained her.
She liked to tease that she liked me better than him and that there were no refunds, he was mine for good. But she’d prove over and over again that she loved us both the same. She called me her daughter, and he was still her son. She’ll always be my Mom.
We built our home, and our family, right next door to this lady with the men’s size 10 feet. And those feet would regularly make the trek between the houses for awhile. Three grandkids would soften and delight that rough around the edges lady in ways I hadn’t seen coming. They’d light up her face and dull her colorful vocabulary.
Until those work damaged arms screamed loud for pain meds. And the doctors gave them.
And then gave more.
Until that hard working, hard loving, hard living Mom stayed put in that worn out recliner for years. Barely recognizable, she stopped working, stopped loving and stopped living. Sometimes only awake for a few hours a day.
We thought we lost her for good then. That generous lady that sent diaper coupons to distant nieces and nephews starting their own families, dozens of bottles of baby soap and lotion to the ones that were close, paper plates and napkins for every family get together and cards to everyone for every occasion.
Then, just when we were grieving our own personal tragedy…she met Jesus.
Now, when a person taking enough oxycontin to bring down a horse tells you they’ve been talking to Jesus, you don’t take them too serious like. You start believing that this is about to be another personal tragedy. And you start crying out to your own personal Jesus (the One that tends to speak to you through His Word, in your prayer closet, not in the flesh) for some relief.
That’s when it happened. It turned out her Jesus and our Jesus were the same and He told her to dump out her pain medication, that she didn’t need it anymore. So she did.
Because Jesus can reach you even in a drug induced fog and when He tells you to do something….you do it.
Twenty years of narcotic use fell away like as many chains, gone as quickly as those pills skittered and slid to the bottom of the garbage can. And those doctors that gave them to her? Kept her for three days to witness a miracle by the Great Physician. No withdrawal, no pain. Until they finally said they had no reason to keep her and no medical explanation for what just took place.
Her miracle wasn’t without some consequences though. Twenty years of increased doses did some damage to both brain and body but for the next two years she learned to live and love hard again and we enjoyed every minute of learning to live with, and love her, back.
She played BINGO, returned to competitive shooting, watched middle school orchestra concerts and elementary school programs. She went to movies, the town fair (complete with kiddie rides), filled grandkids full of junk food and ice cream, and even learned how to use a debit card. She laughed, and played, and even though she might not have had the capacity to read and study the Bible, I absolutely believe she knew and trusted Jesus as her Lord and Savior.
In fact, she’d tell you He saved her twice.
Today, my greedy, selfish, heart is a little disappointed it doesn’t appear that He’s going to save her a third.
I’m grieving the pending loss of our Mom and Grammy from this world while trying to remember to be grateful for the gift she was. Trying to thank Him for giving her back to us once, long enough to soak up her silly personality and sweet generosity at a time we desperately needed both.
Praising a loving Savior powerful enough to save us from both the grave, and the chains that bind us here.
Rejoicing in the knowledge that no matter what, we will meet again, in heaven.
Hand In Hand
Twenty years ago our paths intersected somewhere the other side of Early Adulthood and there was something attractive in the easy, confident, way you walked. Even if I left a safe, observable distance between us for a bit. Eventually though, your persistence closed the gap and we stepped out together hand in hand for the first time. Hearts and fingers tentatively entwined and overlapping. Questioning, sideways glances through lowered lashes revealed a contrast of broad, safe shoulders, thick, strong forearms, but genuine, kind blue eyes and gentle smile. Always smiling. How does a girl resist a combination like that? A girl whose road up until that point had been a little dangerous and lonely?
We continued into a new territory, Together, me and you. Though I’ll admit my focus was most often on you, I was quite amazed at all the new things I could see. With you beside me. Shadows weren’t so long or menacing and you taught me to jump over puddles and sidestep hazards, smiling all the way. Before I knew it, I had almost stopped looking back over my shoulder and was learning to live facing forward.
This next leg of our journey, though, brought us into Commitment and required a quick jump over a broom. Youth shiny new and dressed in finery we glowed and holding hands, made the leap and the promise to stay the course together, forever.
Then, holding our forever hands with new joy and confidence we continued on. The whole world seemed to open up, spacious, in front of us. Oh, how beautiful those days were! The way the sun shone on Possibility in the distance and all sorts of lovely trails appeared as we checked the map. We spent hours wandering along the way, discussing and deciding which one to choose. There were a couple of rough patches (much easier to navigate together) in the beginning then, but nothing that slowed our progress.
Feeling like we could conquer, together, any path we chose, we went for what appeared the most challenging. We took a deep breath and passed the sign welcoming us to Parenthood. Things sure speed up a lot then. Sometimes I wondered why there wasn’t a better description on the map, or more warning signs at the entrance, for it sometimes felt like we’d picked the diamond run as amateurs. But for the most part, we navigated all of the obstacles “Dirty Diaper Ditch”, “Pacifier Pass”, “Sleepless Slide” and several “Trust Falls” together. The going was tough, but the rewards were great and we emerged on the other end with three precious people we’d been entrusted with for the rest of our journey. They’re loud, expensive and exhausting but we found they definitely make the trip more beautiful.
Checking our map again, we realized our choice to visit Parenthood limited our next steps briefly and the terrain looked slightly more winding and definitely slower going (as we’d come out with more baggage than we’d thought). Given our three extra hands to hold, we decided to stay awhile next to Family Forge and focused on raising up and providing for our pack of five. We settled in and made plans for “after”. For when they finished school, chose paths of their own and found someone to travel with. We worked, saved, spent, planned and enjoyed the time and things we amassed here.
Looking out across the hills one day we watched storms gather menacing in the distance. We’d been relatively protected from extreme conditions in that forge but as soon as I saw that horizon turn purple, the little hairs on my arms stood up and I glanced at you scared, waiting.
Giving my hand a quick squeeze, you didn’t smile, but turned away and set to work. This time though, the broad shoulders and work rough hands were no match for the approaching storm. We sold what we could, searched high and low for shelter, to no avail. As the forge flooded and filled we held on to each other for dear life and even though we still had each other, we were tossed so violently to and fro we could barely keep our heads above water. Terrified, my foot brushed up soft against an Anchor. I’d picked it up a few years before, had moved it into our home and had been studying it when time allowed as it seemed to lend a constant, quiet comfort. That moment though, it seemed to come alive and hold me fast. The storm didn’t cease it’s battering, but held firm by the Anchor I was able to once again grab your hand and those of the children.
The waters receded, we caught our breath, but we’d be forever changed. You kept on moving, working, fixing, taking on anything you could to restore what we’d had, to forget about the change of the landscape as if by sheer force of will you could move the mountains that had shifted directly onto our path. We often held hands in the quiet, without words. You with the weight of us on your shoulders and me with my gaze on those mountains. Exhausted, we had no idea what to do or which way to go next. Gone seemed our confidence and definitely our joy.
But during the clean up. Sifting through the debris, I kept resting on the Anchor. The workload for the days seemed unchanged, the mountains remained immovable, the horizon still tinged grey, but there was always the promises of the Anchor to hold me fast. In those promises I found the joy I thought carried away. And it remained, regardless of circumstances.
I’ll never forget the day you tripped on that Anchor. The way you wrestled with it for days.
You didn’t need the Anchor.
It was enough that it was in our house…right?
But that load you were carrying left you too worn out to fight it for any longer. Led to the Word to study the Anchor of our souls, the Creator of our mountains immovable and the love of our Savior, you invited Him in. Into your heart, into our home and into our marriage.
We’re working our way now, hand in hand, following Christ, around our mountains. Sometimes hand in hand is through tears. Sometimes it’s through laughter. But still together. Always thankful. Because now we both know our final destination (even if we don’t know what will happen in between), that we’re never alone, and our God is bigger than any mountain we come up against.
A couple weeks ago you insisted we jump over that broom hand in hand again. Renewing former promises and making a few more that are meant to last the rest of our journey together and acknowledging the source of the love that has, and will continue, to sustain us along the way.
Blessed to make this journey hand in hand, with you, Hubby.
The Other Mothers
This mother’s day is a bit different than the past four. In a good way. Or a mostly good way. It started a few days ago when Oldest Son and Baby Girl had their latest appointment in neurology.
Neurology hasn’t been my favorite. This place of MRI’s, EEG’s, spinal taps, bloodwork and few answers but more questions makes my heart race nervous in the parking ramp. That day though, kids touched noses, hopped on one foot and images stayed the SAME. This momma breathed deep, exhaled grateful and smiled to her eyes for holding steady. Steady hands, steady legs and steady labs. This momma stayed up late overflowing grateful. And guilty. Heart rejoicing and heart weeping. Oh, she sang praises on the floor of her closet, wrapped warm in undeserved grace. Then prayed hard for the other mothers.
All of this mothering is hard. SO hard. But there is some mothering that hurts more than others.
The kind of mothering that happens when you lose a child to mother. I saw that this week. Prayed for that momma and hurt for that momma as she stood in front of a school she no longer had a child at. What does one do when you have a lifetime of love for that child and the lifetime is far too short?
The kind of mothering that happens when a child goes their own dangerous way. Prayed for one of those beautiful mommas this week too as she watches and prays and waits. Waits for that child’s saving, fully aware that she can’t be the one to do it.
The kind of mothering that happens when one does all the things to be a mother, but hasn’t been given the gift of the child. I prayed for one of these precious ladies too. For she has helped mother my own babies. Will continue to pray that she understands the beauty of mothering whatever children God gives you, no matter what that looks like.
And finally, the kind of mothering that happens with a special needs child. These other mothers weighed heavy on my heart this week. Because not all of them get to hear good, steady, news.
These other mothers stare fiercely brave into the hardest things. Things they won’t tell you. But I will. So you can pray for them too.
Their sleepless nights last far longer than those infant years. These warrior mothers navigate hospital halls, insurance denials, government paperwork and medical equipment. Always advocating, always fighting. They have grieved a diagnosis, mourned a prognosis. And if it’s a degenerative condition, they’ll grieve the loss of each ability, one by one, over and over again. And at the end of their hard days, their want to give up days, they might break a little knowing the only break they’ll get is when their heart breaks.
Or, they don’t have a diagnosis at all. Oh, I’m hurting for these other mothers too this week. You see, our diagnosis is CTX. And after years of research, I know about all the mommas before me that knew something was wrong. That did all the things to find the answers. And lost their babies before they found out what they were. I also know that there are likely hundreds of mommas out there right now, praying for this diagnosis and might not get it in time.
You see, I know I’m the momma that’s had a few hard years. But I’m also the one that gets the diagnosis, the treatment, the good doctors and the steady news.
So this Mother’s Day, I’m rejoicing and grateful for good news. And I’m praying for all the other mothers. That they know The Good News. That they find their rest in the only One who can give it to them. And that they know that there are mommas praying for the comfort and strength they need to persevere.
Friends in low places….
There’s this thing that happens when your world gets a lot shaken up. When the ground beneath your feet shakes, gives way, and everything kind of starts to fall down around your ears. Some people are going to run. These same people may have been there from the beginning. May have helped you build all those crumbling things. But when things really got scary, they headed for safer ground. They may have glanced back over their shoulder, hearts in their eyes, but they half jogged away. Now, I’m not blaming them. Really. I’ll explain why later, but first I want to tell you about the others.
Then, there are the other people. The ones on the outskirts that happen to hear the roar, that even as the ground is giving it’s last rattle, are already calling out to you in the rubble. The ones that rush forward, roll up their sleeves, and start digging through the debris. When the dust settles a bit and the Son starts to break through in rays of light shot through darkness and you start to stumble your way out of the mess, they meet you with open arms. They brush off some of that dirt to clear your eyes and start feeding you living water. You start to catch your breath.
And these people, they stick like glue. Even as remnants of the past are raining down on your head, they drape an arm across your aching shoulders and walk beside you through it. As the aftershocks rumble through what’s left of your life and you’re standing shocked and overwhelmed, they start picking through what’s salvageable, identifying what’s not, and arranging for what’s needed. They work tirelessly to meet your needs, physical, emotional and spiritual. The labor of their hands surpassed only by the labor of their hearts.
They don’t stop there. Remember, like glue. They stand ready to help you rebuild. They point out the defects of the previous structure, and make sure, this time, you’re building on solid Rock. A firm foundation.
We’re rebuilding, from the ground up. It’s quite a process. One, I’ve heard, that takes a lifetime. We’re learning that these people are part of the process. Strategically placed, by a loving Father, to bless us in ways we’d never imagined. We thank God for them daily. For their encouragement, support, prayer and almost constant help.
And here’s why I don’t blame the ones that ran. We can make terrible friends. If you don’t know and follow Jesus, there’s really no worldly reason to stick by us.
What’s happened to us is likely one of people’s biggest fears and something they’d rather not come in contact with. Not that we’re contagious, but we’re a reminder that hard things happen. Could happen to them. Something they’d rather not think about. People who love Jesus tend to have less fear of the unknown and more trust in a loving God to get them through whatever He allows for them.
Also, we often give little back. Put plainly, we’re needy. We have seasons when all of our energy, both physical and emotional, necessitates our total focus on the kids. That leaves little time to invest in others and begs people to invest in us. Unless you are giving of your resources, time and energy to follow Jesus, you will quickly tire of these things not being reciprocated. Frankly, there’s not always much to be gained by caring for us.
And recently, it’s come to my attention, that it’s just plain hard to do life with us sometimes. So, if you ran the other way. I understand. You’re forgiven. Completely. Because I’ve been forgiven. And because I can’t say with all certainty, that I wouldn’t have done the very same thing before I’d been saved by grace myself.
Now, just one more thing….
Dear friends that stick with the power and love of Christ,
Thank you. And stop it. No, not the sticking. We sincerely appreciate that. But the “survivors guilt”. When the ground isn’t actively shaking beneath our feet, allow us to love and care for you in any way we can. This is the truth in love right here. It is a kindness to help us not only keep our gaze up, but out. When our entire focus isn’t absolutely required for some major thing we might have going on, it’s not healthy for us to be focused on ourselves. We welcome those seasons! And we welcome the opportunity to talk about the “normal” difficulties we all encounter in a fallen world. Please don’t let our different circumstances separate us. We are, after all, headed in the same direction. None of our journeys are easy. And we might not be able to help at that moment. But what a blessing for us if we are! And if we can’t help in a tangible way, we’re privileged to pray! One of the greatest gifts God has given us is a community of people who not only grieve and rejoice with us, but the ability to come alongside and grieve and rejoice with them. We want to be part of both. Even if our grief and joy may look a little different. Allow us to be your friend in your low places (and the high ones too). We’re eternally grateful to have you in ours.
Good And Faithful Servant
She lays in a bed, her breath slowing, filled and surrounded by what love built. Love of the Father that filled her and has spilled out to the children and grandchildren currently at her bedside. Love that has fueled a life of joyful service.
A veritable whirlwind of energy, she has loved in a thousand ways of laying down herself. Short on words she has always been long on movement; constantly loving her family by meeting their needs. Before this flesh started to fail, she had a key to every house and on any given day you could find her in one of her adult children’s homes cleaning and doing laundry. Running errands from behind a steering wheel she could barely see over. Ferrying grand-children to appointments so their parents wouldn’t have to take time off of work. Caring for close and distant relatives alike. She delighted in her service and as far as I know, never refused a request that was within her means.
She lived to serve and lived because she served. Because of the love she had for Christ she modeled a life crucified to self. Some may think this way of life, this selfless love, would leave a person tired and empty of joy. Unless they understand, like this beautiful woman does, that this crucified life brings more energy and joy than a life of serving yourself ever can. Never have I believed her to be unhappy. In fact, you needed only to watch this tiny spitfire of a woman on a dance floor with a good Polka band to see the joy she had in life.
So, from half a continent away, I am grieving that I can not be there to hold her hand. Hands that worked and loved so long. To whisper I love you and thank you. For the milk shakes after the dentist, the french fries to “hold me over” on car rides home, for so many apple pies and the dozens of other ways she cared for a grand daughter that was often as short of words as she was. And most of all, for showing me what a life as a good and faithful servant looks like.
Lord, I pray that if these are, indeed, her last breaths here you will fill them with moments of supernatural peace, confident in Your love for her. In the days to come please help us all to celebrate her life over the grief. Bring to all of our minds memories that make us laugh and remind us of how well she has loved. Jesus, please give us a comfort and peace that can only come with the truth that all who believe in You shall not perish, but have everlasting life. In Your name, Amen.
This week marks the anniversary of what I think of as my personal D-Day, or diagnosis day for our daughter. The day our world seemed to turn upside down and no longer made any sense. The repercussions causing me to land in the dark, and the next year learning how to rest in God, over and over again.
Reflecting on the last year, it has been on my heart to share some things with those of you who have, or are, experiencing your own trauma and suffering. Who may still be in that dark place. This letter is for you.
I see you. Always a compassionate person, I can now feel you in a way I never could before. The pain you emanate is palpable. I see the blank look in your eyes in a crowded room, not really taking in anything around you because the darkness you’re caught in has swallowed up the people and conversations around you. Your shoulders are hunched forward, curled around the pain and grief trapped in that place with you. Your smile a mere up turning of your lips. You’ve turned completely inward in the upside down. I don’t know if you’ll hear me, but I want to gather you in my arms and whisper past the shadows under and in your eyes. You’re not alone in there. Keep looking for the light and call out to Him.
Be careful. There may be bright sparks of anger, resentment and blame. Don’t follow them.They may lead you out, give you fuel to keep going, but they’ll only lead you to a life trapped in a place similar to where you are. Void of hope and truth and love.
Wait for His light. Maybe just soft at first, teaching you truth on your way to the surface, or for some people an all enveloping ride full of grace and love.
Whatever that looks like for you, you’re bound to run into the hard but necessary truths. How utterly fragile, helpless and weak we are on our own. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this means you are unloved, or worthless. Just the opposite. You are so precious and loved Jesus will be with you through all of this. There’s no need to do it alone. When you look to the Lord for your strength, lay all your fears and pain at His feet, you can do all things through Him. Even THIS.
There may be friends and family that, unable or unwilling to absorb the shock, will distance themselves from it. But He will take that anger and resentment you may be tempted to and instead lead you to your knees in prayer for them and thanksgiving for those He’s placed in your life for this instead.
I assure you, His perfect sovereignty has the power to reach down and save you from this dark here and carry you all the way home. When you’re ready, He’ll be waiting. His love so powerful, perfect and faithful, He’ll take it all. And His yoke is infinitely lighter than yours.
There, in that place, you’ll find indescribable joy. The joy that comes solely from Him and has nothing to do with your current circumstances.
Dear one. I don’t know what your personal D-Day is. I don’t know if it’s a child’s diagnosis, your own, loss of a child or loved one, a life changing phone call at 2 a.m. I don’t know why God has allowed this in your life, but I know that He does. That regardless of how this feels now, His plans are to prosper you and give you hope and a future. Even if you can’t see any possible way for that to be true.
Look for, embrace and give thanks for every gift of grace. Big or small.
Hold onto Him, as He is always holding onto you. Remember His promises written on your heart and commit them to your mind.
Love and Blessings,
I wish I could say that this particular anniversary came and went without any unwanted or uninvited memories for me. It didn’t. I woke to fresh memories of that day a year ago. Fear and pain springing up in place of my hope and faith. Sure that despite the blessings rained down on me over this last year I still didn’t have enough faith.
But in the remembering, I realized just how far from the dark He’s brought me, and how much joy I’ve found in His light.
Pursuing Love In The Valley
This week marked 14 years of marriage for Hubby and I. Though as a young bride I couldn’t have imagined the victories and valleys we’d share youth made me sure that we’d conquer both together, victorious.
I remember hearing of longtime, happily married couples whose lives had been shaken with grief and loss so powerful it was as if it had been an earthquake. A perfect “10” and the aftershocks had left their marriage in the rubble. I’d also heard of happily married couples who’d taken that rubble, and rebuilt something stronger, and more beautiful out of the pieces that were left. I often wondered what had happened to the latter. I couldn’t imagine a scenario in which Hubby and I would not cling to the one person under the sun who knew us best. After all, we’d experienced hardship and loss before. We are so very different by nature that where one of us had been weak, the other had been strong. Those strengths and weaknesses had complimented each other and served as tools to help each other through.
But what happens when you are both weak? When neither of you have any strength? When both of your plates are full to overflowing with grief, pain, loss, stress and worry and your cups are empty? How do you help your spouse balance those emotions when your own plate is dangerously close to dropping? You can’t.
I couldn’t. This last year we experienced our own perfect “10” and what I found was that my cup was empty. I barely had the strength to balance my own plate, never mind relieve some of Hubby’s burden. I could not lighten his load. I could not cure our children. I could not pay the mounting medical bills. I could not give him peace and comfort when I struggled just to save myself. So I prayed to the One who could.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Father, please take this from me! But if this is Your will, please fill my cup and give me the strength to bear it. Please lighten this overflowing plate.
Ah, but He already did.
And He was patiently waiting for me to remember that He himself would carry the load. Would give me His strength. Had already offered to fill that plate and cup with His bread and wine!
As I surrendered more to Him,my burden became lighter (Bread is rather light) and He filled that cup with strength born of hope. And made me aware that I needed to love Hubby. Not the feeling, that was still there. But the action.
Father, I don’t know how to help Hubby, Please give me the strength, wisdom, and knowledge to love him the way he needs right now.
I was reminded of a message years ago by our pastor in which he shared praying for God to help him see and love his wife as He does. This ended up being to make the bed,but I was sure that wasn’t the answer for Hubby (Though I’m ALL for expressions of love that include a tidy bed). I was really sure that Hubby was going to need a lot more. So….
God, please give me Your eyes so I can see. Help me to see him and love him as You do.
That’s it? It does not seem like enough. Not for this.
But when I kept my focus on meeting Hubby where he was, as he was, being patient and kind, and praying continuously to see him as Jesus does, and love him as Jesus does it was a powerful thing. I became more aware of his pain and suffering, which was hard, but it naturally evoked more patience and kindness. And in return, lightened his load and opened his heart towards me and towards God.
Yes, love is God, and God is love. And, our love is stronger and more beautiful now after pursuing it in this valley than it ever was before.
My cup overflows…..
When your life unfolds like a heart wrenching drama. When you get that phone call at 2 a.m., those test results come back, a uniform shows up at your door, your loved one shudders their last breath and the curtains suddenly close on that life you had and the lights fade to black. You can be sitting in that theatre surrounded by people, completely alone. And the One your soul is crying out to is silent.
I’ve talked with so many people who have walked through suffering and have recalled the same thing. During their darkest moments, biggest trials in life, God’s silence seemed to echo louder than the beating of their broken hearts. During my own darkest moments I’d pondered things I’d heard. The Footprints in the sand poem and “The teacher is always silent during a test”. Neither sat well with me. Partially because neither seemed to have any Biblical backing. I wanted real answers. Real truth. Where was He and why couldn’t I see Him, feel Him, or hear Him when I’d needed Him the most?
I recently read Ann Voscamp’s One Thousand Gifts. And I was blown away by her thoughts on a piece of scripture I’d read plenty of times before but now has been rolling around in my head for weeks.
22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.
What if, when it’s the darkest, you feel the most alone, you could have been so close to the One you needed, you could have practically
Yes, what if during those loneliest, soul wrenching, heart breaking, moments.
He was passing by
And placed you in a cleft in a rock. Mercifully covering your eyes until He passed.
But wait, it gets better.
23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”
Then, when you’ve exited stage left of grief, the curtains open again to slowly reveal your new normal, and you can see. You can see His perfect timing, His masterful weaving once He’s gone by. He’d been there all along. Closer than He’s ever been.
When it had seemed like the world’s worst cliffhanger, you hadn’t been hanging to the edge of a cliff at all, but been carefully placed in a cleft instead.
And if you’re currently in the dark, achingly silent, loneliness of that cleft, patiently waiting for His glory to pass, for the chance to see, feel and hear Him again, know that He is SO CLOSE.
I have spent the last three days in a place too closely resembling the dark. I’m sure the details of which will come pouring out in a later blog, but for now, I thought I’d take advantage of the insomnia and a brief moment of clarity while treading water to share a small, yet significant, light bulb moment.
I have discovered, unfortunately, that there is something about pain and loss that makes me incredibly near sighted. Not the kind of near sighted I had fixed by a gifted ophthalmologist a few years ago, but the kind of near sighted that makes it virtually impossible for me to see past my own haze of pain and loss, to the world around me and the kingdom above me. Let me see if I can string enough words together to explain.
There is the kind of pain that explodes into your life with such force that you can’t believe that people within a two mile radius didn’t feel the reverberations. That makes you surprised that everywhere you look, people are just continuing on about life as if the world hasn’t actually slowed to a near stand still. They are going to work, buying groceries, and watching TV as if the searing hot white blast that is still causing your ears to ring and the breath to leave your lungs never happened.
There is the kind of loss that creates such a Huge void in your life that it sucks down with it things like laughter, days of the week, people’s names, prior commitments, and the ability to multi task. You stand at the edge of this vortex desperately trying to keep hold of your sanity with a white knuckled grip on HOPE. And sometimes that pain, it’s sucked down with the loss for awhile too. I believe it’s called “shock”.
But that HOPE I’m gripping? It’s not truly in my hands. It’s in the hands of my Savior. Or rather, at the foot of His cross.
This past Sunday, our message was titled, “Christ Centered Hope”. And I was blessed with the reminder of this message today. I’d like to say that my brain was functioning well enough that I remembered it myself. But alas, this information was in the fuzzy area obscured by pain and lost somewhere in the void. No, when I frantically searched for a piece of paper to write down our latest diagnosis and testing appointments, this conversation guide was closest at hand. Thank you God!
Colossians 3:1-2New International Version (NIV)
3 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
So, where is my HOPE? Is it centered on the transient things of this world like finances, relationships, and health? Or is it focused on the HOPE in Christ?
Today, I am struggling to remind myself where I need to place my hope. I am struggling to see further than the pain and loss. Today, I am incredibly near sighted. But I’m also incredibly grateful that He is meeting me where I am and occasionally breaking through that haze to remind me that this is not my home, and my hope is not in my hands, but seated at the right hand of God. And He is with me.
For anyone reading who is struggling through the near sightedness of pain and loss, to see further than the grief:
Psalm 119:114 New International Version (NIV)
114 You are my refuge and my shield;
I have put my hope in your word.
Isaiah 40:31 New International Version (NIV)
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.