I’ve been feeling quiet in my spirit. I know it’s because I’m processing so many things all at once: it’s almost been one year since Sarah’s death, trying to parent and support a 14 year old who is also dealing with grief and so much change. Changes in our church family, good friends moving away, and trying to discern what God is calling me to do next as a job, etc… In many ways I feel like I’m waiting. While I wait, I am enjoying the freedom to grieve as I need to. I’m not going to lie, the gut punches have been hitting me hard over the past couple weeks as I’ve been missing Sarah and reminded of where we were one year ago and our journey to the end of her life here with us. It’s been especially hard walking into her room, seeing her things, and thinking about the beginning of school and how she should be enjoying being a junior in high school. As grief continues to demand it’s own attention in my life, here are a few things that I’m learning a long the way:
- Not everyone will be comfortable around you like they used to be. Sometimes it can make conversations feel awkward as people are unsure how to approach you. Depending upon my particular mood for the day, some days it’s easier to approach others first and just act normal, but somedays I know that I shouldn’t. It’s hard knowing that when people see me, it makes them feel sad. It’s not anything that can be helped.
- You can laugh with anyone, but it’s only your best friends that you can cry with. We know that someone has reached a special place in our hearts when we’re comfortable letting out our deepest emotions. I’m thankful for friends that I can be real with, when I need to be.
- I look for “signs” from Sarah everywhere. There has been some really special ways that she has been with us lately…like the amazing “angel” figure in my vacation picture. I hope I never stop receiving them. I still haven’t had a real vivid dream with her. I still ask too, but God knows best about how to minister to my heart. So, I’m going to trust Him with it.
- When you’re grieving, it’s very easy to let feelings of jealousy and bitterness rule in your heart. I have to be honest, it’s hard not to compare what could have been, when I see FB posts about other kids hitting milestones. Sometimes, very negative thoughts cross my mind as I read comments from mom’s who are missing their children who have just moved away or when someone complains about something very trivial. That is totally normal for me, but it’s also not ok for me to NOT submit those thoughts to Jesus and let His Holy Spirit set me straight. It would be hurtful for me to not acknowledge those feelings, but it’s more hurtful to let those kinds of thoughts rule in my heart. I need to have grace for others. The reality of it is, that I wouldn’t wish this kind of grief on my worst enemy. So, it’s ok if others live in a space where they don’t have to consider the things that I do. I’m learning what posts to just scroll over and sometimes, I just need to stay off of Facebook for a bit.
- Sleep is such a precious thing. Lately, I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night again. It’s so frustrating! I know that when it happens, the more I try to force myself to go back to sleep, the harder it becomes. So, I just try and find something good to meditate on; or I just bare my soul to Jesus, if I’m struggling with anxious thoughts or trauma.
- Worship still is the thing that connects me to Sarah more than anything and most importantly, Jesus. I know that when I worship, it’s like a little taste of heaven. As much as I miss Sarah, Jesus is the only thing that can fill the emptiness in my heart. He understands my grief, but he truly is the only one worthy of our worship. Worship while were suffering is life giving. It is the way to truly activate His strength in our weakness…which leads to my next point.
- I’m learning a lot about the biblical theology of suffering. Yeah, I know…that doesn’t sound very exciting. However, we know for those who do not believe, many times it’s because they can not accept that a loving God would allow for pain and suffering of those He loves. I’ve discovered an author, Rebecca McLaughlin, Confronting Christianity & 10 Questions Every Teen Should Ask (and Answer) About Christianity, who has some very helpful insights about this. First of all, if you’re looking for logical answers about theology, I highly recommend her books. The one directed towards teens is superb and actually quite helpful, even as an adult. She takes on almost every culturally relevant issue and has a fantastic way of explaining correct theology, with grace and love. Anyway, back to suffering. She uses the story of Lazarus to make some very keen points in regards to suffering in both books actually. My quotes will come from Confronting Christianity:
- “Sometimes we call for Jesus and he does not come.”
- However, “If Jesus had only come when he was called, no one would be crying.” and we wouldn’t have the verse: “Jesus wept.” John 11:35
- “Jesus does not just feel sorry for us in our weakness and pain. He takes on that agony himself. ”
“He was was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain…Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering…”Isaiah 53:3-4
- In the story of Lazarus, “Jesus knows the resurrection is coming. And yet he cries out in his distress.” He bears the heartbreak of our suffering. “Pain is a place of special intimacy with him.” When we go to Him in our sorrow, we find understanding, comfort, and hope.
- When Jesus does arrive, he doesn’t automatically fix Martha’s problem. Jesus looks into this grieving woman’s eyes and says: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11: 25-26) He wasn’t just talking about Lazarus to Martha. He was talking about Martha herself. It’s as if he was saying to her, as she was longing to have her brother back, “your greatest need is not to have your brother back again. It’s to have me…He himself is life: Life in the face of suffering, life in the face of death.”
- Our suffering is never an indication that God does not love us or that we’re being punished. Time and time again, in the pages of The Bible, we see those who are “chosen and beloved suffering. When Jesus comes, we see that script played out on a cosmic stage: God’s beloved Son, the One who the Father is well pleased, comes expressly to suffer and to die out of love for his people. Indeed, our beliefs about God and suffering expose the fault lines between our natural assumptions and the biblical narrative.”
I have no affiliation with Amazon for sharing, but if you’re interested in reading Rebecca McLaughlin’s books, they are available on Amazon here. I highly recommend them!