Some of us only felt tiny hands and feet pressing against the inside of our body.
Some of us saw first steps or first grade.
Some of us watched our child drive away to college certain it was the beginning of an adventure, not the beginning of the end.
Some of us have grandchildren reflecting back a smile or gesture or tone of voice that it so much like the one we miss.
All of us know what it is to lose more than any heart can bear-and yet we DO bear it-every. single. day.
None of us would give up whatever time we had even knowing how hard it is to go on without them. ❤
It took me awhile to “feel” God again after Dominic ran ahead to Heaven.
I would journal my thoughts/prayers/questions and answer myself with Scripture.
My heart was still so very shattered that the words often slid right off.
But eventually, as I kept speaking truth to my heart and waiting on God, I heard them again. I won’t lie and say that I often or even regularly get the goosebumps I used to get when I sing worship songs or read a section of Scripture.
I have something else, though, and that is rock-solid confidence in the promises of God to redeem and renew even if I, like the prophet Habakkuk, will have to live this life in a state of loss, want and under the tyranny of circumstances I’d rather avoid.
“The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!”
~Habakkuk 3:19 AMPC
The times when I am lonely can help me focus on God more intimately. I can speak quite freely and honestly with the Lord. And even if there is silence from the Heavens when I pray, I know that the Lord hears me. He speaks back through His written Word. In these moments, I truly feel the presence of the One that Jesus rightly called The Comforter — The Holy Spirit. Yes, I know that conversations with God are not the same as with a tangible person in the room. But sometimes they are much deeper, going straight to the heart.
~Warren Ludwig, Jewels in the Junkyard
It’s a lesson you never forget once you’ve learned it.
It’s lesson you never learn unless you have to.
The destruction of property-even every single thing you own on this earth-is awful, frightening and life-changing.
But it’s still LIFE.
My parents were caught in the fury that was Hurricane Michael. They were miles inland, a community that had never seen anything like this in four generations that had lived in the house where they rode out the storm.
Their property and home took a hit, but they are OK.
And for this mama with one son in heaven and one deployed half-way around the world, that’s ALL THAT MATTERS.
We can rebuild a house. We can buy more stuff.
But I can’t replace the people I love.
Life and Death.
I know that lesson well.
Life after child loss can be described in various ways.
But any that ring true convey a sense that in an instant, everything is different, shattered, scattered, obliterated, changed.
I like this quote by Tolkien:
It’s the threads, the shards, the broken bits that I will spend a lifetime trying to gather, save and weave or glue back together.
It will never be what it was, but it can still be something.
I will always carry the scars.
The scars are proof of my love.
Here they come round the bend like a pack of dogs chasing that rabbit on a racetrack.
No way to slow them down, no way to step to the side and ward off the relentless message that Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming soon-so, so soon.
Stores scream, “You’ve got to buy it NOW! You’re running out of time!”
Billboards, radio and television ads, and calendars count down the days.
Decorations assault my eyes and ears and nose (thank you pumpkin everything!). I cannot get away. There’s no where to hide
Read the rest here: Trying to Hold off the Holidays
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor, theologian and author who actively opposed the Nazi regime.
He was imprisoned for a year and a half and executed just two weeks before American soldiers liberated the prison where he had been held.
Bonhoeffer was no stranger to loss.
Here is an excerpt from a letter he wrote while in prison (emphasis added):
“There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so.
One must simply hold out and endure it.
At first that sounds very hard, but at the same time it is also a great comfort. For to the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled one remains connected to the other person through it.
It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness. God in no way fills it but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve — even in pain — the authentic relationship.
Furthermore, the more beautiful and full the remembrances, the more difficult the separation.
But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy.
One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain. “
[Bonhoeffer wrote this from his prison cell to Renate and Eberhard Bethge on Christmas Eve, 1943, fifteen months before his own death by execution. ]
It’s a hard, hard lesson to learn.
It’s even harder to carry it like a precious burden in the bosom of your heart.
Because while it is oh, so true, it does not take away the pain when circumstances just don’t change no matter how hard you pray, how long you endure or how much you wish they would.
God’s ways are not my ways. His thoughts are not my thoughts. He is not required to fit into whatever box I want to put Him in.
I came to child loss with what I thought was a pretty good understanding of Scripture, of theology and of Who God is.
What I realized was that no matter how much HEAD knowledge I had, it was only HEART knowledge that could sustain me in the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
He [Christ] said not, ‘Thou shalt not be tempested, thou shalt not be trevailed, thou shalt not be dis-eased,’ but He said, ‘Thou shalt not be overcome.
•Julian of Norwich•
Some people live lives that make sense. They connect the dots-even of the hard and tragic things-into a picture that looks like something. They emerge from the ashes like a phoenix, wings outspread in victory and rising to new heights.
I can’t figure out what God is doing with my life.
I don’t feel victorious.
Mostly I feel tired.
But I am absolutely convinced that God loves me and that He is doing SOMETHING. What that is and how He is doing it are hidden from me.
I don’t understand.
I can’t trace His hand.
But I trust His heart.
If there is anywhere on earth a lover of God who is always kept safe, I know nothing of it, for it was not shown to me. But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in that same precious love.
•Julian of Norwich•