*First and foremost, I've struggled with this particular post. In my heart, I've wanted to write it for so long and yet have been "bound" and unable. However, today is the day that I have found that I can no longer not write it. I literally don't think I slept a wink last night because I was tossing, turning, praying, thinking, and trying to form the words in my head.
I've recently shared how this little blog has transformed into a ministry for me and how I seek to be used of God in every word I write. Whether I'm telling about the ordinary days, sharing what God has revealed, or even if it's just a recipe or "how to"....I fully want to be used by God to touch someone. *That* desire has grown drastically over the last weeks and months as I've witnessed hearts being touched and changed. NOT by my words, but HIS through me. When it comes to harder posts to write, I struggle. I don't just want to "babble" or just blow off hot air. I want my words to be His. I struggle when those words are "too revealing" and let others see more of me than I'm comfortable sharing. Out of my comfort zone. I struggle when my words may hurt. Yet, how can I be fully transparent and used by God if I'm choosing what to say and what not to say? I'm either all in or not in at all. I know that as a blog reader and avid book reader that my heart is moved the most and I am transformed the most when the writer allows herself/himself to be vulnerable and they share ALL of themselves. I guess that is what scares me. Yet, here goes....*
Ohh....warning....if I find myself able to say what I'm feeling, I know this will be even longer than my normal novels. I try to avoid being lengthy, yet it never works that way. :)
Some words are ugly. Some words hurt. Some words are tacky. Some words are just best not said. Some words are "4 letter" words. Referencing 4 letter words typically conjure up images of things not to say. However, some 4 letter words are not bad to say as in curse word category, but yet they hurt.
Today, I'm dealing with one such 4 letter word.
Loss, hurts. It stings. It rocks the foundation of everything you believe in. When you experience loss you are on a journey that you truly have to take alone. Though people can encourage you and support you, it's a solo journey. No one experiences the exact same feelings and emotions that you carry. They may can empathize and hurt with you, but their own journeys are different. We all have our own set of emotions, our own memories, and our own way of processing every thought that enters our mind.
Loss is just an ugly word.
Today is an anniversary of sorts for me. Not one to celebrate, yet one to acknowledge as a "hole" maker and one that put a few cracks in my armor. One that seemed to open the floodgate for many losses to come in the next several months. It was a loss that touched my heart in a way that I didn't know was possible. I didn't even realize how emotional I was going to find myself in these last weeks and specifically yesterday and today.
Today marks the day I lost something I didn't really know I wanted so dramatically at the time. Though we weren't actively planning for a child as we had our other three, I desperately wanted to be a mother again. To find myself with that blessing (and shock!) and then just a few short days later to have it "taken" away was hard. Though my experience is NOTHING like the pain that some other woman I know have dealt with because we hadn't announced to others or even had enough time to wrap our own brains and hearts around it, it still hurt. It hit me in a deep place that I wasn't really sure existed. Being that I value motherhood SO tremendously, it rocked me.
Just a few days after the fact, while I was still physically struggling (not to mention emotionally and spiritually), we had the decision to make about attending Kevin's family reunion. I was NOT ready on any level to attend, but yet we felt VERY drawn to attend. Little did we know that that day would create such precious memories with a dear Aunt of Kevin's. We didn't know that when we attend this year's reunion on Sunday, that it would be without her there. Loss again.
Though we originally only dealt with the loss of our child in private (even though just BARELY a few weeks in the making, he/she was STILL our child!!!) and with the help of a few close friends (most specifically because I was physically struggling with an immediate Lupus flare-up and needed help meeting my responsibilities and taking care of the kids), a few months later I shared that "loss" on my blog. We didn't share with any of our family at that time because it was just something we felt was between the two of us. We had our reasons. It was raw. It was hard and it wasn't something I wanted to share. Period.
However, a few months later life took a drastic turn. A turn that blew my mind and still does. Dad's diagnosis. A diagnosis that took him from a healthy, vibrant man to one that walked home with Jesus in just a whirlwind of 5 weeks. An emotional journey that stretched and pulled my faith in every which direction and then some (and still does!). Having just recently experienced loss on so many levels (a child, family member, a large financial loss, etc...), God began a work in my heart like never before. I have no regrets. He had my attention in a way like never before. Through all of the pain and confusion I was experiencing, I was hearing His voice speaking to me like never before. He was so close I could almost feel His breath on my neck. When I couldn't breathe, I could feel Him breathing for me. It was like when I found myself in those panic attack modes, I could feel Him lifting my chest to allow the air to come through. For those of you that have ever suffered one, you know that feeling of an elephant sitting on you. Every thing tingling and on fire as you struggle to get a breath. He was so close that I could feel Him letting that air fill my chest. Often. So close that this highly emotional basket case of a woman was able to be calm and had a strength that she didn't know existed.
In one of those moments of Him breathing for me, I began to understand some of why we had gone through the loss of our child. Though I'd not shared that part of me openly with many people, I talked with Kevin and asked if I could blog about what I was feeling. With his permission, I wrote a post that shared how even though I didn't understand why some things were happening that I trusted God. Though His will and my will weren't matching up, HIS WAS PERFECT. Here. I briefly mentioned our heartache ONLY because I felt led to share that part of us because it revealed how God was at work in our lives EVEN through the painful things we don't understand. It was my way of writing about how that in seeking to relinquish all control of our lives to God, that we have to take the hard things with the good. Though I received some precious responses to that post, some that showed me that I had done EXACTLY what God was asking when I was that transparent about pain we were experiencing. There was one response that brought about another loss.
A family member took that post and COMPLETELY missed the entire point. Without going into details, from that point on I have no longer been "worthy" to be in her life. Someone that SHOULD have been a great support in the last months has been completely absent. Not a single acknowledgment to me personally in the greatest loss I've ever experienced (Dad). No follow up to see how the kids are doing. Not a single, I'm sorry for your loss or how are you doing. "Unfriending" me from facebook that serves no purpose except to keep her from seeing a window into our lives and the lives of my children. Nothing in nearly 9 months. Another loss. One painful loss leading to another. Yet, HERE is the truth. I forgive. I carry on. Yet, it will NEVER be the same. NEVER. When a parent walks away from a child or a grandchild, there are just some things that can NEVER be the same. EVER. Forgiveness doesn't mean I lay myself back down to be stepped all over. Forgiveness isn't forgetting. Forgiveness comes from the heart (which I can control) and forgetting comes from the brain (which I can not control). Forgiveness means I release you. Forgiveness doesn't mean the pain disappears. I still have to grieve for the loss and still feel the pain from the wound left behind. It's a process.
Even though my heart is heavy today over those losses it brings an even greater reminder of how I'm still struggling with my greatest loss. Dad. Security. The loss of "normalcy". The loss of a rock.
Loss is an ugly word. It creates UGLY emotions. It makes me act ways that I truly don't want to be guilty of. I find myself out of balance and I'm short with the kids. Or my emotions are so raw that I don't know how to handle being so emotionally overwhelmed and it causes breakdown of communication with my husband. I even admit to bits of depression creeping in. It's a snowball effect.
Yet, there is something important to remember. Though I do feel alone because no one can understand 100% what it is like to be in my head/heart (just as I can't fully get into theirs no matter how close we are!), I'm not alone. I have Christ walking and breathing with me. He knows feelings of loss. He knows anger. He knows bitterness and betrayal. He knows what it is like to have someone turn their back on you during your greatest need. He knows! He KNOWS!
Give me a minute to show a few more cracks in my armor. What many of you comment about seeing in me: strength, faithfulness, grace, etc... is NOT me. I am nothing. I am incapable of doing a single thing on my own. I'm weak. I'm emotional. I'm selfish. I'm broken. I carry scars that few people know about. I try hard to keep up the outward facade of strength, yet I'm a broken individual on the inside. Don't let the outward appearance fool you.
The whole point of this post and what I want you to SOAK in (if you've managed to hold on this long and haven't fallen asleep or flipped to another page in cyberworld). The reason why I'm risking so much by being so vulnerable, transparent, and honest. The reason why I've struggled with how to write this EFFECTIVELY is this:
I am not who you see. Anything and everything good you see in me is NOT me. It's Christ. HE is the ONE that binds up my brokenness and puts PURE, REAL, UNDILUTED joy in me. HE is the ONE that comforts when no one else can. HE is the ONE that lets me put aside REAL hurt and focus on others. He is the ONE that lets me love my husband completely, thoroughly, and relentlessly. He is the ONE that teaches me how to love my children unconditionally and give to them when I don't feel like I have an ounce left to give. He is the ONE that really sees my inner battles and LOVES ME DESPITE of it all. When I can't look inside myself and feel anything worthwhile (because I've listened to the lies of the devil, the lies of the world, and lies that people have told me), HE is the ONE that sees it. He sees the REAL me and loves me, unconditionally!
You see, I know that though our "hurts" and "inner battles" may be different (though some may be the same since there are things that we all tend to battle!) some of you are struggling just as I am. Struggling to bridge the gap between the person we feel like and the person that God sees. Struggling to bridge the gap between the person we want to be in Christ and the person that we are. You feel some of those same painful losses and wonder WHY? You battle some of those same feelings of being overwhelmed. You feel like your world is caving in. No one really understands the REAL battles you are facing. They don't see the REAL you under the "strong" outer shell. You feel like if they saw the REAL you that they would run away and abandon you. Let's face it: some people REALLY do turn their backs on us. It hurts. Sometimes we really do face a loss that shakes every cell in our body.
What do we do?
That is the simple part. That is the easiest part to write. TURN to God! Let Him wrap His arms around you. Reach out to HIM. He isn't going to disappoint. Yes, our situations may not change. Pain is still VERY real. But what we find in Him is indescribable. He takes the "un" out of the word "unworthy" and shows us just how valuable we are in His eyes. So valuable that He sent His only son to die for us. No matter what self-esteem issues you battle or what you see when you look in the mirror, GOD loves you. He is just as close as the air we breathe. No matter how tough the situations we are facing may feel or how out of control it seems, God is a constant. He doesn't abandon. He doesn't turn away when we need Him most. Instead of turning away, He just stretches out His hand. The hand that gives strength when we have none. The hand that wipes away tears, even the most secret ones we hide from the world. The hand that leads the way when we don't know which path to take. The hand that defends and protects. The hand that lovingly corrects. The hand that loves us right where we are and just as we are, but loves us enough to not leave us that way.
Today, I'm reaching out to that hand. Reaching out to that hand that understands every emotion I'm feeling and every painful part. Reaching out to the hand that belongs to the person that sees all of me, every hidden recess, and doesn't walk way. He just reaches His hand out a little bit closer when I'm unable to reach up to Him. Reaching out to the hand that has my name written in it. It has yours, too.
Isaiah 49:16 tells that he has written or engraved our names in the palm of his hand. God can't forget us even when we feel like others have. He can't. Our names are written in His hand. Though some of us may be forgetful and have to write notes on our hands to remember things, He doesnt' forget. Our names don't wash away. They are ENGRAVED or TATTOOED on His hand. He doesn't wipe our names away when we fail. Whether or not our hearts are open to feeling His love at any particular moment, it doesn't matter. HE LOVES US! We can't take that way. Even if we run away from Him, He is just waiting for us to come back. Just like the prodigal son. He searches for us and wants us to come back. Just like the parable of the shepherd and the lost sheep. We can't outrun Him. We can't hide from Him. No matter what we've done or no matter what we see when we look in the mirror, HE LOVES US. He loves you. He loves me. We can fully place our trust in Him.
That is what I'm clinging to today and every day. Though my heart is heavy and my emotions are raw. Though my questions are many and answers are few. Though wounds are painful. I'm reaching out to that hand, and I KNOW my hand won't come back empty.
In closing, (finally!!!!!)...I leave you with these words that have been going through my heart over and over today. Words of a song that means so much.
In Christ alone
I place my trust
And find my glory in the power of the cross
In every victory
Let it be said of me
My source of strength
My source of hope
Is Christ alone
In Christ alone do I glory
For only by His grace I am redeemed
For only His tender mercy
Could reach beyond my weakness to my need
And now I seek no greater honor in just to know Him more
And to count my gains but losses to the glory of my Lord