Face to Face With Grief

I’ve discovered that I tend to want to find an escape when faced with uncomfortable emotions like grief or frustration. Or maybe it goes so far as to be any time I feel completely out of control of what is going on around me. My means of escape are harmless in and of themselves: shopping (well, that may not be completely harmless….); going out with a friend; going out to do something – anything; meeting with my pastor; or even just our normal scheduled activities; and I even escape with comfort foods.

Why do I do that? I know it’s probably a pretty normal response to difficult situations and emotions, but I “know better”. I’m supposed to know that escaping won’t solve anything, and that the answer to my grief cannot be found in any person or thing or activity. I know Jesus is the only Person who completely understands, and He is the only One who is truly “acquainted with (my) sorrows”.

Perhaps I’m not so much escaping as I am simply looking for something to soften the harsh reality of my grief – a pillow on which to lay my broken heart until it feels better. My routines – especially the ones that involve church – can be a pseudo-comfort. I’ve been expecting my friends to assuage my sorrow to some extent, and part of me has been terrified that they would forget. I’ve been fighting to keep Rusty’s memory alive in everyone’s hearts – or was it just my heartache I wanted them to remember?

Last week, the anniversary of Rusty’s death, made me realize all this, because I didn’t have a way to escape. It was Spring Break, every midweek activity was cancelled at both of the churches I am involved with (I’ll explain how I came to be involved with 2 churches in a different post.) My worship pastor, who has been my grief counselor in many ways this past year, was out of town with his family. My pastor was out of commission due to an injury requiring surgery. My friends were busy enjoying their own Spring Break activities. Every means I would normally use to escape was unavailable to me last week.

So it was just me and God. I wish I could tell you what a wonderful week of sweet, comforting, healing communion I enjoyed with the Lord. But I can’t. For some reason, I was holding Him at arms’ length. I knew He was there, and I was even talking to Him some, but I did not throw myself into His arms like I could have. I didn’t spend my evenings, after everyone was in bed, pouring my heart out to Him. Why? Why do I do that? Am I afraid? If so, of what?? Am I angry? Yes, that’s very possible.

But the Lord is good. He is faithful and long-suffering. He still upheld me because of the prayers of my friends. He has been there in this whole, long, excruciating season of my soul. He met me at church on Sunday. First, while I was working in the nursery, He had a nice lady who only knew the gist of what had happened, asked me for all the details. I could ┬áhave politely declined to answer, but I didn’t. I think the Lord wanted my heart to be exposed, because every single song during the service met me right where I was. It was as if the whole service had been planned for me. I know it wasn’t, except for in God’s plan. It was hard, and I cried a lot, but it was healing.

So I learned that I need to put my arms down, and stop trying to find something or someone else to “fix me”. I need to not be afraid to come face to face with my grief. For when I do, I’ll probably find myself face to face with God, who alone can comfort and heal.

Categories: brothers, choices, church, grief, lessons, Uncategorized, worship | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Whose Security Blanket is it Anyway?

Hi! Remember me? I felt so bad about not having blogged in so long that I was seriously thinking about just giving it up. However, I have had a couple of people in my life tell me that I should start blogging again. So here I am. I did have to laugh to myself though when I signed in and saw my last post was titled “Being Quiet”. Nice to know I took that one to heart!

So Sunday, 2 days ago, I had one of the most traumatic events that can happen in the life of a mother of a toddler. (Yes, my baby girl is a toddler now. If I weren’t having digital camera issues, I would post a picture of her on here for you.) We. lost. Amy Beth’s. blankies. **da, du, dum!** I can hear your screams of horror now.

Yes, she has two. The plan being we would always have a backup for wash days and if the unthinkable happened and we misplaced one, but once she realized there were 2 of them, she had to have both of them with her at all times. We lost them at church that morning. I knew they were in her bag when I dropped her off, and I realized they were missing on our way home when we stopped for lunch. Of course, I immediately turned around and headed back to church, but all the doors were locked and everyone was gone. At this point, my mind overloaded on the horrible future that laid immediately ahead of me. I was thinking no naps, lots of crying at bedtime, overall fussiness throughout the day – and it wasn’t going to be a picnic for her either.

I came home, called Preston, who suggested that I ask someone who lived near the church and had a key if I could borrow the key and go look for the blankets. Our worship pastor was the obvious choice, because he lives within walking distance to the church, and he knows where I live in case I “forgot” to return the key. Call made; he agreed to let me borrow the key; we drove back across town to get it and check the church. I looked all over the place; retraced every step we could have possibly taken that day; to no avail. It wasn’t there. I was now ready to go curl up in a fetal position in the corner and whimper. Amy Beth, however, seemed oblivious, even though we were a couple of hours past her bed time. Her oldest brother, Harris, had let her borrow his beloved blanky. It felt and smelled enough like hers that it was sufficing for the moment. (Amy Beth has 2 of the best brothers in the universe. I hope she realizes that some day. Although it took me until I was an adult to realize how awesome my brothers were.)

We came home and commenced with our Easter festivities. Amy Beth was too distracted hunting eggs to worry about her blankies. I, however, was making phone calls and sending emails to the nursery director and the workers in her class, and wracking my brain trying to figure out where they could be. I came to two conclusions: either they are in the toy cabinet that I couldn’t get into, or they accidentally got sent home with someone else. Either way, chances were very slim we would be getting those blankies back that day.

Sunday night. Bedtime. She goes down without a fuss due to sheer exhaustion – and her brother’s blanket. But it was a restless sleep. Same with nap time on Monday. And the next night. During her waking hours, she is even clingier than usual – which is a lot, since she is going through the 2-year-old separation anxiety phase. I notice my stress levels are higher than normal. The case of the missing blankies is driving me crazy. I considered going and buying her a new blanky, but didn’t think that would solve the problem. I hate not being able to find things!

Monday night. I check email and see the reminder for our MOMS’ group that meets on Tuesdays twice a month. It’s for the next day. Yes! Another chance to go up there and recheck all the places those blankets could be. And some of those moms have children in Amy Beth’s nursery class. So maybe, just maybe, someone will have them. I was almost giddy with the possibilities.

We get to church. I talk to the nursery director and all the workers again and determine that the blankies have gone home with someone. Seeing that I’m almost the last one to drop off my children, and no one has mentioned to our nursery director that they found someone’s blankies in their child’s things Sunday, I start to get nervous again. And heartsick. Amy Beth, meanwhile, is happily playing with her nursery friends, oblivious to my distress, thankfully.

I go downstairs to MOMS Group, (on my way stopping by the sanctuary and getting on my hands and knees to look under the pews). I’m sort of in a depressed daze at this point. And then Jennifer Lynch walks in, whose daughter is one of Amy Beth’s best friends in the nursery, and in her hand is Amy Beth’s blankies!! **insert angel choir “ahhhhhh!”** I was SO ecstatic! The day was suddenly brighter, and the birds were once again singing. I hugged them to me and ran back upstairs to the nursery to give them to Amy Beth right away, imagining the look of joy and relief when I handed them to her. Instead, I got a look of “Oh, I knew they would show up.” She didn’t act excited or relieved AT ALL!!! She did take a much better and longer nap when we got home than she had in 2 days, though. And her brother was happy to get his blanket back.

So tonight, I was pondering the last couple of days and came to a startling and a bit disturbing conclusion: I am just as attached to her blankies as Amy Beth is! After all, the last 2 days had been seemingly more traumatic for me than they had been for her! So it begs the question, not just of me, but of all of you whose children have blankies or “lovies”: whose security blanket is it anyway?

Perhaps I should start a support group to help wean us off of our children’s lovies.

Categories: blanket, children, church, nursery | 2 Comments

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