Monday, March 12, 2018

He Will Not Let Go

This past week has been the most life-altering week of my life thus far. And I don’t mean that in a good way.  My mom, who was also my business partner, friend, mentor, and so much more- is no longer living on this Earth. It’s one of those things that happens to others and that you never really think is going to happen to YOU...until it does.

I have never experienced such grief in my life before, so this will be a new and interesting process to walk through. One minute I’ll be absolutely fine and then the next thing I know, something triggers a memory or a thought comes to my head and I’m ugly crying all over the place (and If you know me, you know it takes a lot to make my eyes even remotely tear up). I recently heard someone say that losing someone too soon (whether that be a child, sibling, or parent) makes you feel as if you’ve been robbed, and I couldn’t agree more-
robbed of memories, pictures, and experiences that you’ll never get.

Here are a few that come to my mind:

  • Running home after every first-date to tell her all the details (okay, well most of them 😉)….and getting her advice, even though I roll my eyes and don’t want to hear it.
  • Every.Single.Mother’s Day.
  • Giving me a long hug after I’ve had a hard day and comforting me like no one else can.
  • That mother-daughter wedding day picture.
  • Family photo shoots that will always have an empty space.
  • Throwing me a baby shower.
  • Helping me pick out a wedding dress and continuing to try to convince me that I should wear hers and that it really could be made "in style."
  • Being there when I have my first baby.
  • All the grandma nicknames and babysitting.
  • Spoiling my kids.
  • Helping me reach new goals in my business...
  • ...And being there...getting recognized together when we reach those goals....
  • Hearing her voice clearly say the words again of, “I’m so proud of you baby, and I love you”
I could go on.

All of those dreams, expected memories….It’s all gone. It has been taken and can never be given back. The worst part is, there is nothing- absolutely nothing- I can do to change that. That’s what hurts the most. I’ve never hated the effect of sin and brokenness of the world more than I do right now.

Someone recently told me that eventually, the memories will become sweet. They won’t carry the sharp pain, and I’ll be able to smile & be thankful when I think back on them.  I hope that’s true. But I’m scared that over time I’ll lose the clarity of the sound of her voice, the touch of her skin, the life in her eyes, and the joy of her laugh.

Somehow, I know God is going to carry me through this and I’ve got to believe that there is hope and restoration ahead. However, if I’m being completely honest, in this moment it does not feel that way.
Yesterday at church we sang the song “King of My Heart,” and one of the lines is “You are good, good….You’re never gonna let me down.” I couldn’t get through the song without breaking down.

If I’m being honest with myself, God doesn’t feel good right now….I feel let down….but I’ve learned that I can’t base my faith on my feelings. Faith is about acting and moving forward even when you DON’T see the end in sight. It’s trusting that God will carry you, even when your senses tell you otherwise. In times like this, it’s the hardest thing. If you’re going through a similar situation, I get it.

But even amidst the pain and seemingly unending clouds, I have been encouraged with these truths that God has been gently whispering to my heart. I hope that if you’re going through something like this OR if you do in the future, you will remember and find comfort in these truths  as I have:

1. Jesus is acquainted with our grief.

Jesus knew grief. Isaiah 53 says “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief….He has borne our griefs and He has carried our sorrows and pain..” (v.3a; 4a). Jesus knew the anguish and sting of grief. This is encouraging because it helps us relate better to the Father. God is crying with us. He hears us, sees us, and knows the pain we are experiencing because He too has experienced it.

2. We are comforted by God so we can comfort others.

I recently heard a quote that said, “God builds your character to match your calling.” Going through hard situations builds character through the teacher of experience, and it is one of the most transformative processes. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 talks about how God is the “God of comfort” who comforts us, so that we can then comfort others when they go through hard times. It’s about preparing us for a greater calling of ministering to others through our own experience. God will never waste your pain, He will only use it.

3. He has not forsaken us.

John 14:8 says “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you” Some versions replace “orphans” with “comfortless.” We are not without comfort, God has not left, even if it feels that way. I love the Amplified version of Hebrews 13:5b, “For He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]” We can be comforted with the truth that God will never leave or forsake us. Often when He feels distant, it is because we stop seeking Him- but He never stops seeking us.

4. We serve a God of redemption and restoration.

We have to remember that we serve a God who loves to take broken things and make them beautiful, and that goes for situations in our lives too. We see this all throughout Scripture. Take Job, for example, who had everything taken from him, his estate, family, health- EVERYTHING- yet God restored Him in abundance. “And the Lord turned the captivity of Job and restored His fortunes….also the Lord gave Job twice as much as He had before” (Job 42:10). While no Earthly possessions can replace a person, there is still always restoration that God can bring- often in ways we don’t expect. Often it is through people- new friends and family-  that He brings blessings into our lives. Isaiah 59:1 says, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened at all, that it cannot save, nor His ear dull with deafness, that it cannot hear.” Nothing is too far gone for the Lord to restore and heal. I am beginning to actively look for, expect, and ask God to bring restoration and healing to my life and restore to me in abundance what has been stolen by the Enemy.

5. We have hope. Keep Perspective.

Finally, live with eternity in mind. We are eternal beings! In the grand scheme of eternity, our time on this Earth is like a microscopic dot on the timeline! As believers, we have hope that we will see our loved ones again. While it still is hard here on Earth without them, we can know that we will be united again one day. It truly is not goodbye, but “see you later.” “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep...Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:13;17). Losing a loved one means every day is a day closer to being with them forever in heaven. It’s a strange thing. When you lose someone so close to you, heaven becomes a real, tangible place in your mind where they are and that you anticipate going to- it’s a weird balance between living here on Earth and also anticipating a future in heaven. Until we get there, we must live out each day for the purpose that He has for us here. That’s what we are called to do, and that’s what our loved ones would desire for us.

But still, at the end of the day, it’s hard you guys. It’s really, really hard. I don’t want to sugar coat anything and tell you that any of this is easy, because it’s the most painful thing I’ve ever been through. I can’t honestly tell you I’m “well” when you ask me how I’m doing. But you know what else? I’m OK with not fully being OK right now. Healing takes time. Remembering these truths hasn’t necessarily made things easier, but it does make for a small shimmering of light at the end of the tunnel.

So until that day when we meet again, mommy….I’ll remember these things: That God is good even when I don’t feel Him, that He is preparing me for an incredible calling that is beyond imaginable, that I can trust Him to never forsake me, that He is restoring what the Enemy has stolen, and that all will be made right again in the end.


Monday, February 12, 2018

Oh the Seasons!

The idea of “seasons” has been on my mind a lot recently. In Michigan, metro Detroit had its big #snowmageddon this weekend, and I'm pretty sure all of life stopped on Friday as we had snow non-stop for 16 hours? Maybe more. The Detroit metro airport shut down and all incoming flights couldn't land. It was bad.

Anyway, as I sit here now and look out at the beautiful snow, I can’t help but think about how gorgeous it is but also how destructive it can be. From inside a warm home, looking at the snow is beautiful, serene, and calm, but to those who have to get up and drive in it or don’t have heat- it is stressful, dangerous, and even life threatening.
Seasons can be a double edged sword.

The great thing about seasons is, they are just that, seasons- meaning temporary. And there’s a specific purpose & point in each one- sometimes bringing both beauty & pain. Seasons can be really exciting, but they also bring change, which is scary to many of us. Sometimes we never want our season to end (hello college), and other times we can’t wait for them to be over. I remember partially dreading graduation from college, because I thought the best part of my life was coming to an end and I would never see my friends again. Was college an amazing & life changing experience? Yes, but it was just a season and the beginning of an incredible life full of opportunities! In the words of High School Musical (slightly edited), "[College] wasn't made to last forever." The same goes for any season you might be walking through right now - it wasn't made to last forever.

SO whether you’re in a really wonderful season right now, OR things are really stressful & hard- remember life isn’t necessarily ALWAYS going to be this way. Seasons change. Literally and figuratively. The thing that keeps us grounded no matter what season or transition we are in is to keep our eyes on God, who never, ever changes, and who has promised to protect & guide us in any upcoming snow storm or hurricane that may be lurking in the next season.

"To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven." Ecc. 3:1
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