Updated: May 12, 2021
There are no words...so I will find them in God...
Today, I found out that a most cherished person in my life is no longer here. It's weird, because for the first time in my life, grief feels more like a naked truth than an expected response to loss. With every covering I have of love and joy and comfort woven in a beautiful tapestry, loss this time around feels like someone just ripped through the fabric without care. I've reached a point in my life where I actually have something to lose, because I have gained so much over the years. I remember a time when I had no one and nothing but the clothes on my back and a single suitcase with worn-out wheels scraping the pavement as I searched for a new place to call home.
Nevertheless, God has favored me with the gift of good people, and I never really stopped to think what the other side of that looks like. When you have so much love in your life, it poses as a target for the enemy. Almost like a beacon. He always wants the good things. The bright things. The shiny and beautiful things. Time has nothing to do with it, nevertheless, it allows for all the goodness to soak in. With most people, I realize that I don't call as much as I should. I don't reach out as much as I could, and I could show all the love that's in my heart just a little bit more. Grief has a way of teaching you this, but I'm learning that it really doesn't matter if I haven't talked to them in forever or if I just called them five minutes ago. If I call them family. If I call them friend. Then that is what they are. They reside in this permanent place in my heart whether I express it enough or not. That is where they will always be.
So, when they are gone, it breaks me.
My heart hurts and aches in such a way that it feels like immovable pressure.
And that's how I feel today. I feel deeply.
For the last few years, I've been learning to let people in; to open my world up for others to see. That's huge for someone like me who keeps to herself and doesn't trust easily because of everything she's been through. But I have been healing. I know that none of this is centered around me, but this is how I explain the reason why I cried like a baby and the sheer effort of not letting myself go into full emotional overload has begun to feel weighty.
In times like this, I do remember all the social platitudes and dignified assurances that God is my strength and they are in a better place, but right now, I choose to be raw in my feelings. I choose to fling open the gates that are normally boarded shut, expectant of a storm. I need to feel this. I need to experience all there is in this, because if I don't I will never get past it and it will be a shadow that I can't unload. This is how I make sense of it all, because in order to get through the grief there's this defense mechanism of needing to understand.
If I could just wrap my head around this...regain control, because if it were up to me, it never would have happened in the first place.
It broke my heart, because I believed so strongly. I envisioned this person's recovery as though it had already happened and my expectation was to see him praising God and singing "Glory!" on Sunday morning as though he didn't just have the fight of his life. But that's just it. He had the fight of his life, and God rescued him from fighting anymore. You see, this man already knew war. He was a soldier, and so fighting was something he knew how to do, but at some point he was done with it.
It feels selfish to say that I prayed for him. I had such faith. I pleaded for his life with God. I declared with every fiber of my being that God would restore his body, because I was taught that I could speak life with the power of my lips. I laid every moment I witnessed this man be kind and generous and strong and loving and selfless on the altar because I just knew that God was listening. I think that's why today hurts so much. God heard me and still didn't change the outcome to what we wanted. His Will won. It always overcomes ours every time, but that feels like cutting off our selfish desires in order to see it. We never think as we pray that sending out that word really means that we are putting it in God's hands, and He's doing exactly what we asked Him to.
The song that has the verse: "My life is not my own...to You I belong...I give myself... I give myself to You..." Serving God is honestly one of the strongest things to do when you realize just what it means to sacrifice.
He seen the tears. He heard the desperate cries. He felt the give of our releasing everything within us to Him in anticipation of salvation, of healing. But did He truly answer our prayers? Some will say yes while others will feel cheated and stolen from. I believe He did, not because of my faith, but because of what He's said. His Word returns, but never does it return void. Sometimes His Will doesn't match up with ours. Sometimes it's inconvenient for us to let God be God. We only get a piece of the puzzle while God has seen it finished. If we could understand that we can't clutch everything God gifts us like pearls to our chest, then maybe we can see His glory that comes from Him doing what's for our good.
It's hard to take the emotion and feelings out of things when as people, that is all we seem to be driven by. They are just directly in our face, willing us to let them take the wheel and drive. Pressuring us to release in a way that is more like depression than a mere moment of sadness. Today's sadness feels like a teetering moment on the edge of a cliff that came out of nowhere. Going over the edge would relieve us of holding back, of the stress and sheer willpower of keeping it all together. It would be so easy to let go...but if we do, then we become everything that God has made us not to be. Drowning prevents us from reaching that other person that's still alive and waiting on what we carry.
This is hard for me, not to disregard how his family and loved ones must be feeling. It's hard for me to be in this place of sadness and finding it impossible to get out, because the only way I can recover is to do what I am called to do which is be an encourager. I encourage, I uplift, and help pull others out of their place of un-productivity. This is what gives me joy and life and happiness. I am encouraged when I encourage others. So, what do I do when I have no words of encouragement to offer? I am really struggling to verbalize such a moment without using cliques and empty platitudes that no one is comforted by. I am speechless. I have nothing to say that will be beneficial or helpful or even wanted by someone who is probably more hurt than I am.
But I do know that is grief.
(Ecclesiastes 3) "...A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance..."
And yet, it feels different this time around. After my own adoptive father, who I was very close to, passed away a couple of years ago, I didn't think I'd experience grief on this level again. But because I have learned to care. I have learned my role as an intercessor. I have started understanding what it means to truly stand in the gap and pray without ceasing until my voice gets lost and my eyes are puffy and achy from crying so hard and long...because I have found out how to really love...this feels deeper. More real. More close to home. More profound.
This experience has taught me that God always knows, not just from my prayers, but because He's already seen this moment, and yet He chose to let this happen. "Why" doesn't matter. Questioning God's choices is a lot different from questioning His authority. He let's us question with a "why" but the answer is always the same. He is still the same God that saves. The same God that exacts judgement. And the same God that loves deeply and wholly. Something that we are still struggling with as humans. I have this back and forth struggle in my mind that God doesn't enjoy our suffering. In fact, He never intended us to suffer or cry tears or hurt or feel any sadness...He never wanted that for us in the garden of Eden. Yet, we are on this destructive path and all God has done is try to reveal the path back to Him so we don't have to feel and experience any of this. To believe there was once a time that none of the bad things in the world were a thing is strange as I attempt to wrap my mind around it.
One thing that I do know is that if God made us in His Image, He has made us with all the emotions that He feels, too. What I feel is normal, true, but this also reminds me that because I am feeling, God is feeling as well.
He hurts when we hurt. He is moved by what we experience. He is bound to be a witness to the pain that His children suffer. So, He understands what it means to want it to end. To not want to feel.
No one knows us the way that God does. Literally. It is said that as Jesus Christ gave up His last breath, even God turned His face away.
I used to know how to anticipate these things. I was that weird child that tried to picture how I would feel if I lost my parents or loved ones. I envisioned losing them which made me mourn them before they were even gone. For some reason, I thought this would make it easier if it did happen. I think I was trying to save myself from the hurt of loss, trying to control the outcome or get around what it means to lose something that I care for so deeply. I was looking for the loophole to life at 12 years old. Even then, I had a taste of loss, and it lingered in my mouth long enough to cause me to reject it.
I love hard, and so as a kid, I tried to save myself from grief. Maybe it wouldn't feel so bad if I have already mourned them...this sounds morbid, but I know I am not the only one who's thought this or done this. We do all we can to not feel, to not experience the depth of what life throws at us.
We forget, though, that out of every moment of death, there's a piece of life that crops up. Every seed that is broken apart and destroyed under the earth, there is also a small bud of green that pushes its way through the suffocating dirt into the sunshine. Out of death comes life. Out of death, there is still life. It always lifts me up a little to see that while I may mourn, I can still witness the life of a child coming into the world or the beginning of someone's long awaited dream. Some may think of it in that "Lion King" kind of way - the circle of life...but to God, death happens so that everlasting life can begin. I think of the king who had to die in order for God's train of glory to fill the temple. It's strange that one had to lose something in order to gain more.
"In the year that King Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple." (Isaiah 6:1)
Death is and always has been a catalyst. What we feel after a loss is often the painful sting of change. We know God has all control, and so we wonder, out of this, what could God be up to...? What is He trying to set straight or align or what message does He want us to receive, because there is no way that He'd allow all of this to happen for no reason at all. There's no way that He gave the enemy permission for such destruction and there not be a purpose behind it.
I have to ask myself, what does God intend to give us in exchange for what He has taken? They say that God doesn't take without replacing it with something better. So what can be better than what we had?
Out of all this grief and pain that I feel, I only have so many questions, but, interestingly enough, my faith hasn't wavered like I thought it would. I question out of a need to verbalize what's roiling around inside of me, but I still remember that I am still His daughter. I still have this rock solid foundation with God that hasn't been moved or even shaken. In fact, it's probably been fortified. I haven't thought that God has abandoned me or suddenly isn't as real as I thought He was.
I still have faith.
When you've taken so much to build your faith like I have, it will take more than a moment to knock it down.
God and I have history.
He's done too much for me, promised me even more than I have now, to bitterly turn my back on Him, but I still ask Him questions...what is the meaning of this? God, what are you doing? Am I allowed to know...?
And in the midst of all my questions, there is still this one where I wonder why God healed me from cancer, and still took someone who I consider to be better than me in every way. What did God see in me worth saving, and does that mean that this other person didn't have the same thing? Someone told me that I need to free myself from these pity parties. God wouldn't have saved me if I was not worth saving. And neither did He do it based on the comparison of someone else's qualifications.
So, as I work my way through this, I do hope that something I wrote has struck at least one of the cords of your heart, and shown you that you are not the only one. Sometimes, the best way to heal is to feel, but of course we feel as much as we need to in order to get out of it whatever God intends for us. Sometimes, our feelings are pit stops along the way, beneficial until they aren't so then we keep moving forward.
Love you muchly,