Wrestling

I’ve been having a hard time lately.  I don’t pray like I used to.  I pray short prayers.  Thank you’s and grace over meals.  Quickly whispered requests for safety.  But not long intense conversations with God.

I used to wake up every morning and say “Good morning God. Thank You for another day.”  Now I wake up and say “Good morning God. Please tell Michael I love him and I miss him.”

My lips sing “Jesus I sing for all that you’ve done for me”.  But my heart cries “Why didn’t You heal Michael?”

My lips sing “I lift my hands to believe again.  You are my refuge, You are my strength.  As I pour out my heart these things, I remember. You are faithful, God, forever.” But my heart cries, “Why wouldn’t You heal Michael?”

Today I went to church and heard an awesome teaching on prayer. On the way Jesus prayed and the way prayer is a conversation where we talk and we listen.  On how prayer is wrestling with God to a resolution.  Well, I’m still wrestling.  I can’t seem to get to resolution.  There’s too much I don’t understand.  I don’t understand why God didn’t heal Michael.  I don’t understand why all the things he planned to do won’t get done now.  I can’t believe he’s really gone.  I can’t believe I’ll never hear his voice.  I don’t understand why there’ll be no more holidays with him.  Why he’ll never know grandchildren.  I don’t understand how I’m supposed to keep doing things that I was only able to do because of his encouragement.  I am wrestling.  I am wrestling with God.  And it’s a battle I know I cannot win because He is greater and more powerful and I know that in the end I will just have to accept that this is where He has brought me. But right now I’m not going down without a fight.  I am wrestling.  And so far I have no resolution.

I’m Learning

I’m learning that every day is a new day.  Not every day is a good day. But every day is new in its feelings and emotions.

I’m learning that not every day is a complete wash-out.  The tears come and go, sometimes when you least expect it, over the most incredible things.

I’m learning that I can drive by myself to the farm and to MC for move-in day for our youngest child.  I can get busy in packing and lifting and sorting and organizing.

I’m learning that I can sleep in the bed by myself.

I’m learning that I can accept invitations to social events by myself.

I’m learning that no matter how many questions go unanswered, my faith in God is still strong – not because of me, but because He inhabits me through His Spirit giving me the strength and confidence in His word.

I’m learning that I can do things that I haven’t done in a long time. Things that I was always able to do, but that Michael always did for me – just because he wanted to.  Things like putting gas in my car and getting it washed.  Things like taking out the garbage and changing light bulbs.

I’m learning that my stomach doesn’t ache all the time anymore and that the headaches are starting to be less intense.

I’m learning that I’m too young and my children are too old to benefit from the social security that Michael paid into for 40+ years.

I’m learning that, in the midst of my whining and complaining, I have so very much to be thankful for.

I’m learning that feeling sorry for myself is easy to slip in to, but not a fun place to be.  I’m learning that I have to fight my way out, pick up my head and find out what life has to offer.

I’m learning that there are projects and plans for things in the days to come – things that will take my time and energy; things that will occupy my time and challenge me to do things I’ve never done before.

I’m learning that I have a lot to learn.

Sacrificial Giving

According to the dictionary, “to give” means “to present voluntarily and without expecting compensation”, or “to place in someone’s care” or “to transfer possession to another”.

John 15:13 says “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down (or in some translations “give up”) his life for his friends.”

I’ve heard many sermons preached on this verse.  And I’ve done Bible studies on it as well.  I’ve tried to think about how I can give sacrificially, what that would look like in my daily life.  What would it look like financially?  What would it look like physically?  What would it feel like spiritually?  How do we give up our life?  Is it only when we would physically die that we could give this way?  Or would giving up our time, our days, also be giving up our life for someone?

But until recently I don’t think I’ve ever thought about what it would be like to receive this kind of sacrificial love from another person.  What do you say when someone loves you with the kind of love that they give up their life, their time, for you?

What do you say to someone who gives up their two months off in the summer to come home and take care of you?  Someone who will give up their free time to relax with friends and vacation at the beach so that they can cook your meals, clean your house and wash your clothes.

What do you say to someone who gives up the chance of a lifetime to travel to the Amazon so they can organize blood drives and help you understand medical terms and conditions?  Someone who gives up sleeping in a soft bed to spend long nights at the hospital in isolation gowns and latex gloves caring for wounds and changing bed linens.

What do you say to someone who drives 700 miles each week to come home and sit with you, help you sort out correspondence and talk over how to handle so many issues?  Someone who gives up a semester of their education to continue coming home, just so you won’t have to spend so many nights alone in a huge empty house.

Of course you say “Thank You”, but that doesn’t begin to tell of how grateful you are for their sacrifice.  Because while a parent brings children into this world, knowing and ready to sacrifice anything for them, you never want your children to have to make sacrifices for you.  You only want their world to be full of good times and happy endings.  You don’t want them to know hurt and sacrifice.  And yet, I’m now thankful that they do know these things because to know these things is to better understand the sacrifice God has made for us.  And that sacrifice comes out of love.  His love for us.  And our love for Him and each other.

We love, because He first loved us.       1 John 4:19

I’m So Alone

God, where is Your perfect plan in this?  I don’t see it.

God I’m so alone.  Michael was my partner.  We did everything together and now I’m so alone.  I’m scared and afraid and I’ve never liked being alone.  But now I’m so alone.  I want him back and I know he’s not coming back and I’m so alone.

I have friends.  Good friends.  Great friends.  But I’m so alone.

Nothing fills this emptiness up God.  Please fill it up.  I know he’s in a better place but I want him back.

I have my children and they help me and try to be there for me but they have their lives and I’m so alone.

God I know You say You will never leave me or forsake me.  But I’m so alone.  Please put your arms around me.  Let me feel your arms around me.  I don’t want to feel so alone.  I don’t want to be alone. This will never get better.

God please don’t let the enemy win in any of this.  Don’t let him scare me or gain any ground.  Please.  Please.

I cannot even imagine what the next week will be like without Michael.  How will I get through the next year or 5 years?  Or 30 years?

Precious L

A few days ago I had lunch with a precious young friend, L.  Precious L has suffered a tragic loss almost two years ago.  She has so much to teach me about loss and grief, or I should say I have so much to learn from her.

Our lunch lasted about 2 ½ hours – that would be ½ hour of lunch and 2 hours of crying, laughing and remembering.  Precious L is still hurting and has been so kind to share with me what her deepest feelings are – how sometimes she just doesn’t want to be here, how she’ll never “get over” her loss, how other people view her.

Our circumstances are not the same.  I’m many years older than Precious L.  We are at different places in our lives.  The situations that have caused our grief are not the same.  But I’m learning for both of us our grief is great.  It is very painful.  It is life-changing.  It doesn’t matter if your loss is from a spouse, parent, child or friend, your loss is your loss.  And I’ve come to the conclusion that the greatest loss, the one that hurts the most, is whichever one you’re going through.  Because it is your own personal pain.

It makes me aware that there are people all around me dealing with their own pain and grief from loss.  I guess I’m just more keenly aware of it now.  I think that I’ve not really appreciated what my own mother-in-law’s life has been like.  She’s been a widow for 33 years now.

Maybe the sadder thing would be for someone to be gone and not have someone that loved them so much and mourned for them.  The saddest thing of all would be for someone to be gone and not to be in the arms of Jesus, not to know beforehand where they would be going, not to have the assurance in this life that they would spend eternity in heaven.  I’m thankful for that – I’m thankful that I know where Michael is, that I have no doubt he is in heaven.  I’m as confident of his salvation as I am of my own.

As lunch progressed Precious L and I found many things we agreed on and our corporate response quickly became “That sucks”, followed by the clinking of our glasses in a toast.  People that tell you you’ll get over it (and lots of other stupid things, which I think will be the subject for a future post).  Clink!  Seeing other people celebrating anniversaries and birthdays together that you know you’ll never get to celebrate.  Clink!  Going to places you used to go with the one you’ve lost or knowing that you can never go to those places again.  Clink!  Having to deal with the personal clothes of the one who’s gone.  Clink!  There was a lot of toasting going on at that table.  Which was fine because we were drinking water and tea.  But next time Precious L wants to do margaritas, so I think I’m gonna need to call a cab.

Also, Precious L is the consummate animal lover.  So she’s had this incredible idea that I need a dog to keep me company.  She’s even been looking at different dogs to gift me and is talking about just leaving one on my front door step.  For anybody that knows me, you know this is NOT a good solution for me.  For the sake of the dog, this is not a good idea!

Thank you Precious L for what you are teaching me.  That grief is universal, yet very individual.  That grief cannot be defined by a timeline.  That grief shows up in many ways.  And that most of us don’t understand until we’ve had to walk through it.  And Precious L — I look forward to the next meeting with margaritas and queso, BUT NO DOG!