A few years ago if you had asked me if the holidays would come and go without an aching in my heart my reply would have been, “Surely not.”
That first Thanksgiving after Justin went home to Heaven felt immeasurably raw and painful. I could not imagine seven years ago that the looming absence of my six foot two-hundred something pound son would ever cease to remind me of his death. But, thankfully, today there is joy unspeakable in our lives. Our lives are truly full and we for the most part have weathered the storm of grief without any permanent disabilities. Yes, we felt banged up and splintered – even fractured at times. Still, somehow the pain has healed and comfort has come in the most unexpected ways.
As I look back on the last seven years – a season of completion – I find myself grateful. Strike that. Exceedingly grateful… Grateful. Yes, I said grateful.
Many parents have lost children before me and many I am sure have come behind me. Sad as it is, tomorrow morning a mother and father somewhere in the world will awaken to what feels like an ordinary Thursday until something unthinkable happens and the child born of their line will be transitioned from this life into the hereafter in the twinkling of an eye. An adult child, a teenager, an adolescent or an infant – the wash of shock and denial will overwhelm and the first year of waiting for the cry, the front door to burst open or the phone to ring will begin. And… The parents, the family, will have to make a choice. To press through, to find comfort and healing, and to grieve. As much as I pray everyday that no other parent will have to experience the pain and loss that comes with the death of your own child… I know that reality will come.
I have come to view my loss as a sacred trust. A trust between God and I. He promised to be faithful in times of joy and in times of sorrow. He promised to bring beauty from ashes and the oil of gladness from mourning and praise from utter despair. He promised to be strong when I am weak and peace when I am in the midst of the storm and comfort when my heart is broken. And He only asked one thing of me. Trust Him. Follow Him. Take up whatever cross I find is mine to bear and move into the destiny He has for me. Gives a whole new meaning to the words of Jesus, “To whom much is given, much is required.”
Those who grieve much will also have the comfort to offer much comfort. But, only if they receive the comfort that is available to them. Indeed, it is a sacred trust. It led to revelations. In those early days God drew my heart to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and showed me her humanity. He reminded me that Mary was simply a mother, a human woman – not divine – as some would elevated her, but fragile, prone to error and sorrow. She had a heart that could be broken. She had a son… A perfect Son… who died. She had the comfort of His resurrection, but she also lived the remainder of her natural life without the physical presence of her firstborn child who went to Heaven’s Throne Room, to await the trumpet call and His return.
Mary felt pain much the same way we did. And she made a choice to live on in the legacy of her firstborn son and the Good News of his birth, death and resurrection. I choose to live in this legacy as well. Choosing to allow my firstborn’s legacy to be a mark of redemption and hope. The promise of a Gospel that provides comfort to mothers with aching hearts.
He also reminded me that for us grief starts with death of someone we love, but for God His grief over the sinful state of mankind on earth ended with the death of His only Son. And by that death the power of resurrection came. And by the power of resurrection healing comes. Sorrow may indeed linger for a night, but it is the joy of the Lord as our strength that indeed comes with the morning.
So tonight as I ride alongside my husband and our best dog, Pogo, I find myself ever the more grateful for even the loss we’ve endured and in some ways overcome. I am grateful for a God so real to me that I know His heartbeat and catch a glimpse of His glory in every sunrise and sunset. For my family, a good man to call my husband, and four magnificent children all grown up. For our Brittany’s new journey after the first of the year pursuing her destiny in calling through an internship at a church. For our Taylor’s beautiful heart and the life she lives before the Lord, a good steward with strong faith and a tremendous love for those around her. For Travis, and the man he is becoming. He loves marine animals and seeks a future caring for them. Truly a take dominion kind of man. For Megan who has had a rough time this year with knee surgery that has taken her away from the sport she loves. She fights daily to come back and heal. And we pray everyday that this would be the day of her complete restoration. And we know that by the stripes of Jesus, we – even she- is healed. I am grateful for extended family that lives close and supports us. And I am grateful for times like Thanksgiving week when we reflect on all the blessings and benefits in life being a child of God. I am grateful He has given me this life – all of it.
Today, and from this day forward, I choose to be more intentional about living thankfully every single day rather than waiting for a week in November to reflect on those things that I have been blessed by God to received. “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” ~ Job
Have a blessed Thanksgiving and may the Lord supply all your need this Holiday season in the glorious riches of our Lord Jesus.