Posts Tagged With: grief

A Year of Healing

It was almost exactly one year ago today that I realized I really was going to be okay after my brother’s suicide. I remember I was on my way home from a store. The sun was shining on all the gorgeous fall leaves outside my car window, displaying in a small way God’s splendor and beauty to me. I was doing something that I know God has called me to do – helping lead a team of intercessors as we prayed for pastors in our community via email and text messages. And suddenly, I realized I was okay. My storm was passing.

The landscape of my life was forever altered;  I would always know the ache of losing a dearly loved one to suicide; I would always miss my brother, and I still went through really hard days after this realization that I would be okay. Yet, God had proven Himself faithful once again. I was back doing the things I was called to do, like singing on the praise team and helping lead prayer teams, and I was enjoying the beauty of the world around me.

It was such a significant moment for me – a moment where I could look back over the past 7+ months and see God’s presence that had been there all along. Not that I ever doubted it, but it’s one thing to trust it simply because it’s faith, and another thing to finally be able to see it. It made the truth of God’s presence, love, faithfulness, grace, and peace so much sweeter and more amazing after having to trust in it when I was too blinded by grief to see it. And what a tremendous blessing it was when I could see it again.

So one year ago today – I remember it because it was the day the local Pastors’ Prayer Summit started, which is what I was leading a team of intercessors to pray for – was a significant day for me. It was the day I realized I was healing; the day I once again clearly saw and felt all the things that I knew were true and had clung to in the dark, scary days after Rusty died. What a beautiful, glorious day.

Categories: fall, grief, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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  have 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

Blessings in the Storm

The Lord has been showing/reminding me of how much He had His hand on everything that happened this week a year ago. It is such a blessed reassurance that Rusty’s death was part of His sovereign plan, and He did everything to prepare us for it.

First of all, He had been telling me since September of 2010 that a storm was coming to my family that was unlike anything we’ve ever been through. Around the beginning of 2o11, I felt like the Lord was preparing me for a family member’s death. I even already had it in my head of who I would call first and who I would ask them to call; what I would need to do; etc. And the night Rusty died, I didn’t have to think about it, which is good since I couldn’t think. There’s a lot more that God did in the months before Rusty died to prepare me. I never dreamed it would be his death that I was preparing for, and certainly did not feel prepared for it, but in hindsight, I am so thankful that the Lord apparently WAS doing a work in my heart. I’ll never know how I would have handled it without that, and I’m glad for that.

The night he died, two of my favorite people in the world came out to my mom’s house to be with us – my pastor, Harry Walls, and my worship pastor, Kevin Moore. I couldn’t believe they BOTH came out, and I was SO thankful to see them there. Kevin was an invaluable support and help for me throughout that week as I did most of the funeral service planning, and he went with Darrell (my other brother) and me when we had to tell Dad what happened. Kevin is normally out of town with his family on Spring Break. He is this year. But for whatever reason, he was in town and available for us. God did that. Pastor Harry is also unavailable this week because he had to have surgery. What if that had happened a year ago? God made sure both of them were there for us that night and that week. He didn’t have to do that, but I am so glad He did. How would I have made it through that awful week without them?

Then there’s the circumstances around Rusty’s death itself. As hard and traumatic as it was, it was as gentle as it possibly could have been. I can see now how God had His hand on every aspect of what He allowed to happen that day. For instance, there was only one spot where one could stand and see Rusty from the yard, and Mom’s neighbor just happened to come over and visit her, stood in that spot, and saw him. Mom didn’t have to find him alone. He allowed someone – a nurse, no less – to be with her – someone who was used to emergency situations and knew what to do.

So even in the worst storm of our lives, God is there. He never fails. I can trust Him no matter what, even when it feels like my world turned upside-down.

 

 

Categories: brothers, death, God, grief, Rusty, storms, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Surprised by Grief?

I’m sorry for all these hard, serious posts here lately. It’s just where I am right now – I guess because the one-year mark of Rusty’s suicide is less than a month away now. I promise this blog will not always be this heavy.

The night of Rusty’s death, when my mom called to tell me, my boys heard me crying and came in to see why. I didn’t realize they were in the room, so when Preston came in to see what was wrong, I blurted it out. The look on Harris’ face still makes tears come to my eyes just thinking about it. When I hung up, he said, “Uncle Rusty is dead?!?!” – like he couldn’t believe it or understand it. Then he burst into tears, and I held him as we cried together.

David, on the other hand, just took off running back down the hallway. After handing Harris off to Preston, and getting Amy Beth out of the tub (which is where she was when my mom called and who was too young to understand what was happening), I went to check on David. He was in his room, just slowly pacing around the room. I hugged him and asked if he was okay. He said yeah. I asked him if he realized what had happened. He said “Yes, Uncle Rusty died. But that’s okay because we’ll see him again in Heaven, won’t we?” I told him we would, but it was still okay to be sad that he’s not still here with us. But he never acted sad. I never saw him cry.

Fast forward to this past Sunday afternoon. My brother, Darrell, had brought his 4-wheeler by and was taking the kids for rides on it. I went inside for a few moments, and then heard the doorbell ring. It was David. He looked very upset and said Uncle Darrell said he couldn’t ride on it ever again. I knew Darrell wouldn’t have said anything like that, but David ran up to his room, slammed the door, and just started wailing. I went upstairs to see what was wrong, and David told me he was mad at Uncle Darrell, and scared. He cried and cried and cried, wailing with all his might. I just held him, wondering what on earth was really going on. And then it hit me – could this be his grief over Rusty’s death finally coming to the surface? Could it be that those emotions of fear, anger, sadness, that his brain didn’t understand and didn’t know what to do with, have finally found their outlet by being re-directed at the other uncle, who was still here and was a physical person to react to? If so, what do I do with this? How do I help him?

I just kept holding him. I didn’t try to shush him, but let him cry it out. At one point, Harris came in to see why David was so upset. When I mentioned that I thought some of it might have to do with Rusty, David started crying even harder. When he was done, I suggested working on a puzzle together. He has always loved puzzles, and even though I didn’t think of this at the time, maybe it helps us in our grief because it’s constructive – putting the pieces back together so that the picture makes sense, the way we wish we could with our hearts. But we can’t on our own. Only God can, and He will.

Categories: brothers, children, grief, Rusty, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

God of peace

Based on someone’s suggestion, I’ve been studying the phrase “God of peace” as it appears in the New Testament. It’s only in the NT 5 times, and each time it’s in one of Paul’s letters: twice in Romans; once in Philippians; once in I Thess.; and once in Hebrews.

The one that stands out to me so far is the one in Romans 16:20 that says, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” When I think of peace, I don’t tend to think of the strength and power that is necessary to crush the enemy – especially under my feet. I usually think of it as something you get to enjoy after the enemy has been crushed.

When I think of the God of peace, I think of a God that is calm, serene, and very tender. I think of a Father who gently holds me in His lap, stroking my hair, and “quieting me with His love”. (Zeph. 3:10 – I think.) I still think that’s true. Even during the storms of life, when I am completely distraught, or overwhelmed, or angry, or heartbroken and grieving, the God of peace is still there. I guess that’s how it’s possible to have peace in the storm. He is our peace.

But most of the time, instead of resting in that peace, I get angry with God and shout out, “Don’t you see this storm? Can’t you see my heartbreak? Why aren’t You doing anything about it? Why are You just sitting here holding me when this storm is raging all around me?! You could do something to stop it!”‘

The God of peace doesn’t react to my anger. He doesn’t reject me or scold me. He just keeps holding me. At this point, I have a choice to make: do I choose to be still and trust Him, His timing and His will, or do I crawl out of His lap and try to stop the storm myself, or maybe just ignore it? If I choose the latter, it will be very hard to find my way back to His lap again, and it will only cause more pain and heartache. If I choose to be still and rest in Him, His peace will cover me like a blanket. And then, I’ll see it. Under my very own feet, this quiet, tender, serene Being, with power inherent in His very name, has crushed my enemy. And it humbles me to know that while I was resting, He was fighting for me. The God of peace is not impotent. He is all-powerful and victorious. And when I’m willing to quietly rest in His lap. He is quietly, but powerfully crushing Satan under my feet. Hallelujah!

 

Categories: devotional thought, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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