When Time Shall Be No More

Tomorrow will be two years since my life was changed forever, 731 days since my heart was shattered, 17,544 hours since Dominic’s accident.

I never dreaded time the way I do now.  Gray hair and wrinkles didn’t faze me.  My children growing from babies to toddlers to high school graduates was exciting, not sad.

But now, I am oh, so aware, of the days and months that have passed since Dominic left us.  I look back to the years we had with him and hate to see them falling further and further into the past.

I look ahead  with ambivalence to the years that may lie between now and my reunion with the son I love and miss.

The Bible describes Heaven as a place where “time will be no more” and I’ve always considered that concept in terms of an unending opportunity to enjoy Jesus and those we love for ever and ever.

But something occurred to me the other day:  timelessness itself will be a gift unimagineable.

In this body, I am bound in time.  My life is divided into “before”  and “after”.  But there will be a day when it won’t be.

There will be a day when I will also inhabit the timeless eternity where Jesus reigns and Dominic resides.

I don’t know if I will remember the details of this life, the pain and the heartache-maybe, because Scripture tells me that God will wipe away every tear-but I firmly believe that I will be able to enter fully into the “now” of heaven’s timelessness without a sense of loss.

I will be free from this body of sin and death, free from the burden of grief and pain, free of the weight of sorrow.

For ever and ever. Amen.

Nothing that has cursed mankind shall exist any longer; the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be within the city. His servants shall worship him; they shall see his face, and his name will be upon their foreheads. Night shall be no more; they have no more need for either lamplight or sunlight, for the Lord God will shed his light upon them and they shall reign as kings for timeless ages.

Revelation 22:3-5 Phillips

Permission Granted: Please Share

I’m not the most tech savvy individual and I freely admit it.

Dominic was our resident tech advisor and among other things I lost when he was taken from us was my own personal “help” desk.  Now I muddle through the best I can.

I’m also not too excited about exploring popular Facebook posts that purport to give you insider information. But I did check out a recent post making the rounds and discovered that FB DOES hide some of my messages.

I have no idea what kind of filter they use to decide what messages I should see and what messages should be sequestered into the “filtered messages” folder, but I wish they would just stop!

I found messages from MONTHS ago from mamas trying to contact me about my blog and many asking permission to share a post or to print a post and pass it along to another grieving family.

I was heartbroken that I didn’t receive these requests in a timely way and I pray that in each case, they decided to share anyway.

So, since I have no idea how to stop FB from filtering messages, I would like to make this plain:  PERMISSION GRANTED to anyone who finds these posts helpful to share them.

As long as you make no changes, share them in entirety and cite thelifeididntchoose.com as the source, share away.

You can share one of several ways-there are buttons at the bottom of each post for FB, Twitter, and Google+.  You can copy and paste into an email or email the link.  Or you can print them for physical distribution.

If you want to sign up to receive the posts in your own email, there is a link on the right side of each post inviting you to “follow blog via email”-this makes it easier to share a post via email.

If you have a WordPress site, you can follow through your own site as well.

Finally, at the top right corner there is a “contact” button-you are welcome to contact me anytime through email.  I try to answer within a day.

I cannot bring my son back-but I can honor his memory by sharing faithfully what God is teaching me as I make this journey.

I am thankful and humbled that others find my words helpful. 

If you know someone that might also find them helpful, please pass them along.  

 

 

 

Stronger

If you meet me now at the grocery store or pass me in church, I probably won’t cry.

I will most likely ask you how you are, what you’ve been doing and smile when you share the latest family news even if in the midst of the words a thousand alarms go off in my head, reminding me of Dominic.

Because I’m stronger.

There’s a common misconception about grief among those who have never experienced the loss of a close loved one.

It goes something like this:  The first few weeks, months and the first holidays celebrated without them are the hardest.  But once the bereaved make it through THOSE, things get EASIER.

I’m here to tell you that, at least for me, it’s just not true.

A better picture of how I am continuing in this grief journey is to think of it as weight lifting.   I started with a 250 pound barbell raised over my head-no warning, no training-that knocked me to my knees and threatened to press the life out of me.  But friends and family came alongside and helped me lift the heavy weight for a season.

And I survived.

Each day, I have to get out of bed and lift that weight.

  • Over time, my muscles have grown stronger.
  • Over time, I’ve become more adept at keeping my grip.
  • Over time, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks to balance the bar more evenly, to situate myself more strategically beneath it and to breathe through the lifting so that I don’t become light-headed and faint.

But there are still days, still moments, when my balance is off and I can be crushed by the weight of grief.  There are times when life adds a few more pounds onto the bar and even my stronger arms are unable to lift it up and carry on.

And in those moments or on those days, the full weight of sorrow and pain and longing overwhelm me.  That’s when I understand how Paul felt when he wrote:

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. These bodies of ours are constantly facing death just as Jesus did; so it is clear to all that it is only the living Christ within who keeps us safe.  

2 Corinthians 4: 8-10

I sit in my floor and cry out to God for mercy, cry out to Him for strength, cry out to Him for grace to rise and carry on.

I am thankful that it’s no longer every day.  I’m relieved that I can do routine things more easily.  I can smile. I can even laugh.

I am stronger.  I am more capable.

But I am never completely free of the load.  

 

 

The Problem of [Un]Answered Prayer

When it’s not your kid you can think of all kinds of lofty, theologically correct arguments or reasons for why God answers one prayer and not another–for why one person is healed and not another–for why one person survives a devastating-should-have-killed-him accident but not another.

But when it is your child that doesn’t survive or isn’t healed or is stolen through the violent actions of someone else…well, that’s a different matter entirely.

I prayed every day for my children.  I asked God to protect them, to give them wisdom, to draw them to Himself and to guide their steps.

I never thought I was “giving orders” to God, but I did expect that my prayers would be honored-that by praying in obedience to biblical commands and in accord with scriptural principles I was making a difference in the heavenlies.

Like Daniel, who received word that his prayers had helped Gabriel fight against the prince of the air opposing him, I sent my petitions as weapons and armor against any schemes of the evil one  that might threaten to undo my family. (Daniel 10: 1-13)

Herein lies the problem:   when things go well, when the job comes through, the test score is great and the person walks out of the hospital, healed and whole, we say, “God answered prayers.”

And I believe that He does.

But if we ascribe glory and praise and honor and thanksgiving for the blessings received, how are we to understand and talk about the ones denied?

The nation of Israel was looking for Messiah-expecting Him.

Yet when He came, most missed Him.  They had decided for themselves what He would look like, what He would do and how He would rescue them from bondage.

God’s ways are inscrutable.

I’m not arguing that prayer doesn’t matter.

It does.

I am commanded to pray. And God’s faithfulness to answer prayer is documented from Genesis through Revelation.

But I would argue that the way we speak about prayer, as if we understand how it works and how God works in it and through it, is often unhelpful.

The book of Job pulls back the curtain on what was happening in the heavenlies when God allowed Satan access to Job’s life.  We know that Job’s earthly suffering represented a testimony for God against the Accuser.

But there’s no evidence that Job ever knew.

There was no dramatic revelation by God to this man that had lost EVERYTHING except his own life (which he would have gladly given up) and his wife (who, it seems, went on to bear him more children-oh joy!). Instead, God confronts Job with questions, not answers.

My heart wants answers, not more questions.

I doubt that I will have them this side of heaven.

So I have decided to speak more honestly about my experience with prayer, to refuse to pretend I understand how it works any more than I understand how God breathes life into bodies or takes souls to heaven.

I will pray, as best I can-mostly recalling God’s own words to Him-and resist my desire to think that because I pray, I can direct His hand.

When Jesus was in agony at Gethsemene, He asked His Father to take the bitter cup from HIm, but in the end, submitted to God’s will and plan.

That is all I have left for me as well-to submit and be made into whatever God has ordained.

I will trust in the goodness and faithful love of my Heavenly Father, because He IS my Father.

I will lean into His heart even when I cannot see or understand the work of His hands and follow because He is the One Who will lead me Home.

he is faithful who has promised

Being a Friend: Loving Well Series

Oh, the blessing of true friendship when your world is full of pain!  There is no substitute for loving companionship when all you see is darkness.

There are those who are brave and reach out to me and offer words or hugs or prayers and their efforts give me strength and comfort.

Read the rest here:  Loving Well: Being a Friend

How the Church Can Serve Grieving Parents and Other Hurting People: Loving Well Series

When I first shared this post,  I received a lot of feedback from readers and much of it went something like this:  “I wish my pastor would read this.” or “I’d love to share this on my own FaceBook page but I’m afraid someone might be offended.”

I didn’t write this post to point fingers but I did write it to drag into the light a hidden place of pain and division within churches.  

There are so many hurting people in our pews and we cannot continue to ignore our responsibility to minister to them.  So to you who are timid, I say, “Be brave!  Share! There is no shame in sharing the truth in love!”

“I am a shepherd.  My goats and sheep depend on me for food, for guidance and for their security.

And every day I am reminded that a shepherd’s heart is revealed by the way he or she cares for the weakest and most vulnerable of the flock.”

Read the rest here:  Loving Well: How the Church Can Serve Grieving Parents and Other Hurting People

Understanding Acceptance: Loving Well Series

There is a lot of misconception around the notion of “acceptance” in the grief community. Sometimes among the very people counseling those walking this valley of loss.

It’s not a once-and-done realization or commitment or decision.  It’s a process…

Sometimes those that walk alongside the bereaved are biding time, waiting for that “final” stage of grief: Acceptance.

And some therapists, counselors and armchair psychiatrists are certain that if the grieving mother can simply accept the death of her child, she can move on–that she can get back to a more “normal’ life.

But this notion is as ridiculous as imagining that welcoming a new baby into a household doesn’t change everything.

Read the rest here:  Loving well: Understanding “Acceptance”