How can I measure how far I’ve come in this grief journey?
Distance traveled or hours endured?
Do I set my heart next to that of another grieving mother and see which of us has managed to piece together more or less of what was left after losing our child?
I want to be able to give myself a grade-to place my experience on a ladder of “success” and determine just where I rank.
That sounds ridiculous, and really, it IS.
Yet I am constantly bombarded with cues that declare: “You need to be making progress;” “You need to get ‘better’;” “You need to ‘get over’ Dominic’s death;” “You need to ‘move on'”.
As a stay at home mom, I’ve lived most of my life in the shadows of behind-the-scenes support to my husband and children. My hours were spent doing necessary tasks rarely considered “amazing” or “noteworthy”.
So I had to learn not to measure my worth based on what others thought I should be doing but instead on whether or not I was living in obedience to what God had called me to do.
My list of accomplishments is short, but my living legacy is large. My children are my curriculum vitae:
2 You are our letter, every word burned onto our[a] hearts to be read by everyone. 3 You are the living letter of the Anointed One, the Liberating King, nurtured by us and inscribed, not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God—a letter too passionate to be chiseled onto stone tablets, but emblazoned upon the human heart.
2 Corinthians 3:2-3 VOICE
As a bereaved mom, I’m now living in longer shadows. Shadows I never imagined. Shadows I would never have chosen. I can’t see the end, I can’t mend my heart or undo the sorrow and pain.
I often feel like a failure because I can’t point to the “good” from this terrible tragedy. I often feel like I don’t measure up to the standard of a victorious Christian life.
We love a good “beauty from ashes” story. We send videos viral when they illustrate that the human spirit can conquer any challenge when someone is committed to success and refuses to give up.
The underlying assumption is that we are always in a position to declare victory or understand endurance or measure strength.
But we aren’t.
Some victories are invisible. Some strength unknowable. And some endurance won’t be revealed until our last breath.
So I am learning again not to measure my worth or my progress by what others think I should be doing or feeling but instead on whether or not I am living in obedience to what God has called me to do.
I don’t have to be an “overcomer” to be worthy of God’s love and care.
I don’t have to declare “victory” to enjoy His grace and mercy.
All I have to do is rest in His perfect, faithful love-leading and guiding-guaranteeing that I will not fail, because my “success” doesn’t depend on ME, it depends on HIM.