It is kind of a catchy saying to plaster across a Christian school’s gymnasium wall.
I know the one who decided to put it there meant well. But “I can do all things through Christ Who gives me strength” is absolutely NOT about lifting weights, running an extra lap or hitting a ball out of the park.
No. No. NO.
Can we just look at it in context, please?
I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you’re again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. I don’t mean that your help didn’t mean a lot to me—it did. It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles.
Phillipians 4::12-14 MSG
Paul was thanking friends for their concern and aid. But he didn’t want them to think he was desperately needy. He was assuring them that because he had found utter fulfillment in Christ and through Christ and that he could be content no matter his outward circumstances.
But there is something else here too-another tidbit overlooked in our desire to lift verses out of context.
While Paul was content in his circumstances, while he was at peace and settled in his soul, he was also deeply grateful that his friends had remembered him. He was encouraged that they had sent aid and lifted prayers and inquired as to his well-being.
Being content does not preclude discouragement.
I can feel both deep peace and experience confusion over my present circumstances.
It’s just then that I need faithful friends to remind me that I’m not alone and I’m not abandoned. That is precisely the moment my spirit cries out for compassionate companionship.
This life is not meant to be lived alone-even in a prison cell.
It’s meant to be lived in community with others who come alongside and call courage to our hearts.
If you are a bereaved parent and can fly,
or walk to Hot Springs, Arkansas October 6-7
you will want to make the journey.
April Wendland, a bereaved mama with a heart to reach others with hope and love has organized a conference just for us.
And it’s *FREE* to bereaved parents.
From the website:
“THROUGH THIS VALLEY is a faith based conference designed BY bereaved parents, FOR bereaved parents.
We know the deep pain. We know the longing.
We know the questions. We know the heartache.
But we’ve also found some healing. We’ve found some peace for our hearts.
We’ve found some answers.
And we understand the Healer in new & grateful ways.
It is our desire to share what we’ve learned with other bereaved parents who are searching for answers. And being together with others who have gone through similar experiences somehow gives us all a little more strength & comfort too. You are not alone. There is hope. This conference will change the lives of those who have open hearts & ears to hear.
There is no charge to the bereaved parents for the THROUGH THIS VALLEY conference.
All speakers, attendees & most staff are bereaved parents.”
Wanna join me there?
Click here for more information or to register: Through This Valley
Shame is a shackle as sure as any chains forged from iron.
And it often finds its home in the hearts of those who bury a child.
Bereaved parents may feel shame for lots of reasons:
Read the rest here: Shake Off the Shame
This past little while I’ve started taking care of some things that have lingered long since Dominic left us.
The thought of doing them, of dealing with the details, and of trying to keep my tears behind my eyelids was overwhelming.
But they needed to be done.
So I’ve plunged ahead.
I’ve called on good friends to give me pep talks.
I’ve given myself pep talks.
Honestly, I’m exhausted. It will most likely take me a week to recover.
But I did it.
I didn’t give up. I didn’t give in. I marched forward and conquered the fear and anxiety.
And “Yay You!” to every heart that chooses to persevere
even when it’s hard
or feels impossible.
Today is full of tears.
No real reason-other than the obvious one-but so many things coming together to remind me this life is hard, hard, hard.
I find on this side of burying Dominic that when two or three other stressful events pile one atop the other I crumble. Sometimes it’s other family members doing the best they can to muddle through and sometimes it’s physical pain or disappointment or the random “ya-ya” stuff of life in community with other people Whatever it is, the weight-in addition to grief-just absolutely overwhelms me.
I used to be stronger.
Or at least I thought I was stronger. But maybe the truth was the burden I was carrying wasn’t nearly as heavy as I thought it was and I just didn’t have anything to compare it to.
Now I do.
And I am oh, so weary! I want to curl up in a ball and wish for it all to be over. I want to hide in a hole and hope the world passes me by. I want to wait out my years unnoticed and unchallenged and pass peacefully to eternal rest and the joyful fullness of what has been promised.
Not an option.
So I hang in and hold on. I cling to hope and I climb the mountain. I crawl when I can’t walk. I beg for mercy when my mind grows dark and all I see is the long years stretching before me like a prison sentence.
And I cry.
I let the tears roll down my cheeks and fall into the corners of my mouth. I taste their salty sweetness and let them remind me that Dominic matters. That even when other folks have forgotten and moved on, he’s still part of my every day. My heart is still in pieces. My family circle has been torn apart.
Some days I can push it down and forget a little. But today I can’t.
It’s just plain hard.
It’s not the same as just doing nothing.
Sitting still doesn’t guarantee that the mind remains quiet or the spirit settled.
I know, because sometimes I’ve been forced to stay perched in a chair like a toddler in time out and it was not restful.
But the other day I did spend time in my favorite rocking chair, cozied up to a heating pad with my cat companion
It was wonderful! And it restored my soul.
I haven’t enjoyed something like that in several months. Things to do had crowded my schedule, places to go and people to see or talk to had used up nearly every waking moment.
I let rest-genuine, soul-restoring rest-be pushed aside in hopes of making progress on a never-ending list of necessary tasks.
What I failed to take into account was that the more weary I became, the less effective my efforts and the less enthusiastic my attitude-not to mention my rebellious body!
I don’t know why I push harder when I shouldn’t be pushing at all. Because when I don’t build rest into my schedule, I’m sorely tempted to give up and give in-every little thing becomes a struggle!
The most productive people know when to take a break. The highest yielding fields remain untilled from time to time.
Life is hard and if I’m going to make it on this long and laborious journey, I’ve got to learn to take my own best advice:
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.
Read the rest here: Stronger