Some things are too hard to swallow no matter how you try to disguise them.
Losing a child is one of them.
I have been a student of the Bible for decades-I take Scripture seriously, believe it with my whole heart and trust that the truth it contains is necessary and sufficient for this life and the life to come. But when Dominic died, I found I was forced to look again at verses I thought I understood.
Cars, cars, cars filled my long driveway and front yard.
People spilling out like ants scrambling after the hill is disturbed.
Oh, our hill was disturbed-knocked wide open by that deputy’s visit.Phone calls to let others know. Phone calls from people who couldn’t get in touch with him and were just checking “in case something had happened”.
So many of us are finding it difficult to face a new year without our missing child.
Sometimes we wonder, “Where is God? ” and “Why MY child?”.
I believe that God invites us to ask our hard questions. It’s not like we can hide them from Him anyway. When we speak them aloud, we open our hearts to the healing power of His Spirit.
For most of my adult years I felt like I had a robust prayer life. I regularly interceded for my family, for my church, for missionaries and for the world. I’ve kept a prayer journal for over twenty years.
I felt connected to the God of the Universe.
But when Dominic died I felt like I lost that connection.
It’s the subject of everything from romantic comedies tohundreds of books.
“Men are from Mars, women are from Venus” and all that.
So it shouldn’t surprise those of us walking this Valley that our spouse may be grieving very differently than we do. But it often does. Because everything is amplified when it echoes off the high mountains on either side.
And just when we need it most-for ourselves and for extending to others-grace is often in short supply.
This year has been challenging in ways I could never have imagined nor anticipated. It’s been that way for most of us I think.
Communal grief, pain and loss have wrapped themselves around the unique grief, pain and loss of hearts everywhere.
Definitely plenty to give a person pause.
And while I do believe it’s a good thing to reflect every so often I’m not certain it has to be on the same date every year.
But since the world seems to agree on this one, I’ll join in:
Turning a calendar page doesn’t guarantee a fresh start. Resolutions, affirmations, hopeful aspirations can’t erase the marks we bear from previous life experiences. I’m all for declaring boldly that tomorrow may be better but I’ve learned the hard way it might be worse. So I hold my hands open either way and adjust my stance to accept whichever it may be.
Attitude makes a difference.I despise silly little mantras that claim I can will my way out of every dark and desperate situation.Bad things happen. Sorrow and sadness are appropriate and reasonable reactions to hard times. Sometimes there’s nothing else to do but feel the feelings, let the tears fall and allow my heart to experience the pain. But I can choose to turn my attention to whatever may still be beautiful in my world. I can lift my eyes to tiny flickers of light on the horizon. I can embrace joy along with sorrow.
My worth is not tied to external accomplishments or society’s arbitrary markers of success. I refuse to listen to the enemy’s lies whispered in my ear, “You are less than. You are a failure. You only count if your ‘wins’ outweigh your ‘losses’”. A new year may feel like a new beginning but it can also be a stark reminder of last year’s list of resolutions that may or may not have yielded measurable progress. Striving for improvement is healthy. Beating myself up for not meeting every goal is not.
Things can be replaced, people can’t. I’m not making light of the very real and very painful loss so many people have suffered this year as businesses failed, income dwindled and hopes for financial progress dashed. It’s no small thing to come back to ashes where your home once stood. Standing in line at a community food bank for a box when you used to stand in line at the grocery store is humbling. But if my family is alive and (relatively) well at the end of the year, we can work the rest out together.
The only investment with a guaranteed return is love. Sure I try to plan for the future. I eat right, exercise, save money and maintain my home and car all in the hope that investing time, energy and effort today will pay off tomorrow. But truth is (as we’ve all learned this year!) outside and unseen forces can undo the best laid plans and preparation. But love is never wasted or destroyed. All the love I pour into others lasts forever.
This time last year I was hope-filled and looking forward to a less stressful, amazing twelve months.
That’s not how it turned out.
I’ve learned some things though.
So I’ll carry that wisdom into 2022-no lofty resolutions or proclamations-and settle for survival ❤