On our drive from Arkansas back to our home in Nashville, I looked at my husband and held his hand tightly. “I feel like we’re forgetting something,” I said. He looked at me with pain in his eyes. We were forgetting something. We came on the trip as three and were going home as two. Just like that we were no longer a family of three.
When we returned home after that traumatic weekend, I became a recluse. I didn’t go to work, I didn’t go out with friends, I didn’t even go out with my husband, I physically wasn’t able to at that time. The first places I made it to was church and the grocery store (if I didn’t go, there was a good chance we would’ve starved. My husband doesn’t grocery shop, he would probably make it home with a bag of half eaten chips and call it a day.)
Church, the grocery store, and my couch. Those were my places. And at each one of them I couldn’t get it together. At church, I cried. I wept practically the whole service. Songs made me feel all the feels. To stand and attempt to sing ‘Blessed Be the Name of the Lord,’ without crying was impossible. The ball that built up in my throat while mouthing “You give and take away, but I will choose to say Lord blessed be your name,” the tears just came flowing. That same ball built up by just sitting in the pew and watching all the precious babies and children that surrounded me. The little baby boys, oh the little boys. The site of a baby boy caused me to weep, there was just no hope in keeping my eyes dry at church.
Same with the grocery store. I watched mommas push their children around in the buggies. I stared at them and cried. There were times I didn’t even care that anyone saw me. There I was in my pajama pants, house shoes, looking like I hadn’t showered in a week, staring and crying at babies. I owned it. I didn’t care what I looked like. I was in pain not just emotionally but physically still.
It’s been said that two things can lead you to the cross. Inspiration or desperation. In my case, it was hands down desperation. I remember being desperate for someone to pick up the pieces. I grew up in the church and have always had “a faith.” But never in my life have I been on my hands and knees truly needing Him to pick me up.
After September, I started taking a hard look at life. I was never capable of saying “this is God’s will for me to lose my boy,” I couldn’t fathom looking at God in that way. But to be honest, in the back of my mind I contemplated daily, why He allowed it? Why does He allow me to suffer? Does He want me to suffer? Is this a consequence for the wrongs I’ve done in my life? Why did this happen?
These are all questions I wrestled with, I mean really wrestled with, for the first few weeks after our loss. I think a lot of people wrestle with these questions after an unwanted event happens in their life. I remember trying to pray to God, and each time, the spirit must have interceded because it took me a while to actually form words, or sentences, let alone a full prayer to send to him. About three weeks after, I joined a women’s study group at our church on Thursday mornings and we made sure to stay really involved with our life group and classes at church. I just started sinking in activeness. I tried. I put forth effort. I refused to have my view of God tainted because I didn’t get my way. I decided reading ‘Jesus Calling’ once a day is not the golden key to having a strong faith. Just attending church wasn’t going to cut it. God wanted to really work on me and I felt it. He wanted a relationship and so did I. So I dug in. I dug in to scripture, to study books, to other sisters in Christ, bible studies, and most importantly I dug into prayer.
Instead of trying to form the words to speak, I got out a pen and started writing to God, my thoughts, my emotions, my praises, and my grieving to Him. After I wrote, then I would read my prayer aloud to Him and that’s how I learned to pray, genuinely pray again. Our God hears us. Psalm 34:18 “ The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Not only will He save us, but He will never “leave us and never forsake us!” Deuteronomy 31:8
One answer I do have from all of those questions is that God will not protect you from what he will use to protect you – think on that.
2 Corinthians 7:9-11 “ As it is, I rejoice, not because you were suffering but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves. What indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment!” From the message translation of the bible, these verses are summed up like this – “ Now I’m glad – not that you were upset, but that you were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him. The result was all gain, no loss.”
Oh, how this speaks to me and how I want it to speak to anyone who is going through pain and hardships. Do not grieve your loss in this world! Grieve in God. Let it draw you to him, not away! But it has to be intentional, every day! Lay your burdens at His feet, he is the ONLY one who can handle them. I truly believe that God doesn’t rejoice in the fact that we lost our baby, or that you lost your job, or your husband cheated on you, or you just lost a parent. God rejoices when we chose to trust Him through the hard parts of life. We chose to lift our hands up to him, for him to pick us up and put us back together. Trust me, this world isn’t going to do it and you definitely can’t put yourself back together…you’ll find yourself in your pajamas at the grocery store crying alone! He rejoices when we try to grow in him through our suffering.
I imagine when you have children and they fall and hurt themselves under your watch, picture them stomping up to you saying, “how dare you let me fall, how dare you allow me to get hurt, I’m never trusting you again.” That’s not usually the response is it? I imagine the sweet moment that little child runs up crying, saying “mommy, daddy, I’m hurt, pleases hold me and make me feel better.” This is how I imagine God wants us to be when life hits us hard. He doesn’t want us to be hurt, he doesn’t want us to turn away from him, he wants us RUNNING, full force, hands up, free falling into his arms. The only arms that can truly ease our pain. All we have to do is go to him. Everyday. Arms up. Running.