Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Sunday night we attended a Thanksgiving dinner at our church, fellowshipping with our church family, our brothers and sisters in Christ. Honestly, I don't even remember Thanksgiving last year. Dh tells me we were there, but all I remember is standing in the hallway visiting with another grieving mother who had experienced the recent loss of her adult son.

The past week, week and a half has been very difficult. I was impatient, short-tempered, and snarly. I apologized to the kids yesterday for my behavior after I finally admitted what my problem was. I had spent the last week and a half trying to ignore Thanksgiving coming up, trying to ignore the fact that Matt isn't here. Stupid, huh? As usual, when the pain is too great, instead of crying and giving in to the feelings, I worked extra hard at stuffing my grief, falsely thinking there was a shut off switch somewhere. But, as Dr. Phil would ask, “How's that working for ya?” It's not. It didn't. It exploded like projectile vomit the entire week all over my children.

I dread Thanksgiving now. It's not like Christmas. Christmas is all about the birth of Jesus. A Savior has been born. I rejoice in that. There's nothing sorrowful about Christmas. Thanksgiving, however, is all about, well, giving thanks. How easy it is to give thanks for stuff and for the people in our lives when circumstances are good. It's easy to give thanks for the blessings God has given. It's easy to be thankful when your heart is not heavy with grief. Don't get me wrong, I am thankful. I do acknowledge the abundant blessings the LORD has given me. There is joy to be found. I'm just trying to figure out what to do with Thanksgiving now, how to give thanks in all things when our loss is ever before us. I need to know how to reconcile joy with grief.

What I find most difficult are songs. That, and seeing Matt's two best friends sitting together during church. Seeing them without him and hearing certain lyrics are painful reminders of our loss. I still don't sing in church. My heart drops with heaviness when I hear song lyrics about being in Heaven or standing before God. It's one thing to sing about imagining Heaven and quite another to be cognizant of the fact that your child is there.

We decided to leave for Thanksgiving this year. For only about the third time in 19 years, we will not be having Thanksgiving at our house. I am all too happy about it, also. I just did not want to be at our dining room table this year. Some of the tension I was experiencing included that, of all things.

So here we are on the road. I finally have the chance to gather my thoughts and write without interruptions. As I was finishing the last minute packing before we got on the road, the radio playing in the bedroom, I heard Matt Redmond's song, “Lord, You Never Let Go” come on. I, of course, had been thinking about my Matt when the song came on. I knew it was a “God nod,” a perfect reminder from the LORD that Matt isn't so far away after all and that God knew my heartache at that moment.

I am so thankful God is faithful. He continues to minister to us and walk with us through this valley. He continues to provide comfort and encouragement in this season of sorrow. While I'm not necessarily looking forward to Thanksging, I rest in knowing that God is with me and goes before us. I heard a Chris Tomlin song a few days ago that has been particularly encouraging as we head into the holidays. It's titled, “God of Angel Armies."

Sunday, November 11, 2012

What for?

I have another blog, but I find it very, very difficult to post anything. Everything just seems so trivial now. My life is colored by grief. How can it not be? My son was here for 16 years. He was standing here in the kitchen making his lunch just before 7:30am on the morning of July 29, but gone forever (this side of Heaven, anyway) just an hour and half later. A GriefShare video mentions not letting grief become your identity. It's such a slippery slope, however. I've been climbing and falling a lot lately on that slope. I've been wrestling with trying to discern the difference between losing a child as my identity with it defining me. We have things in our lives that have shaped us and made us who we are. Those things define us. Then there are things that are inherent like being female or having a particular type of personality or temperament. Those things are our identity. Additionally, when you birth a child and become a mother it's a fine line between letting motherhood become your identity and having it define you.

Thankfully, the LORD is our anchor. He is the tether on that slippery slope that keeps us from falling. Thankfully, God never lets go! Thankfully, truth prevails. Thankfully, God shows us how to deal with our sorrow, our burdens, our trials in His Word. I went to a Desiring God conference on Thursday titled, "The Works of God: God's Good Design in Disability." I felt drawn to attend, for one thing, because Nancy Guthrie was one of the scheduled speakers. She and her husband David are the hosts of the GriefShare videos that I watch weekly. Secondly, I believe that grief is very much like a disability. Losing a child is like losing a part of yourself, like losing a limb. In my opinion, the words "grief" and "disability" can often be used synonymously. I knew this conference was for me.

Going to a conference on disabilities isn't something one tends to gush over. The auditorium wasn't sold out or jam-packed with attendees. I mean, really, who wants to go to a conference that doesn't give you warm fuzzies or that reveals the tough questions and doubts you have regarding the hardships and trials in your life? In fact, one of the speakers remarked that it could really be called the "uncomfortable" conference because there is nothing comfortable about disability.

So while it wasn't a "breath of fresh air" type of conference, it was a deep, abiding assurance that God is there. He knows. He cares. His grace is sufficient for every single second. It was, as John Piper stated, a reminder to look beyond the causality of disability and focus on the sovereignty of God. Krista Horning, another speaker, gave an incredibly moving testimony. She spoke with the title "How I live with Disability" by reminding us that disability lies, but God tells the truth. It was a powerful message that will be available on the internet in a few days when Desiring God puts up the link for the conference on their website.

I am still processing the conference information, re-reading my notes, and seeking God for wisdom in figuring out this thing called grief and how to walk through this season of sorrow, trying to learn what 2 Corinthians 6:10 means when it says we can be "sorrowful yet always rejoicing..." I believe there is comfort in knowing there is a sovereign God who has a plan, who sees meaning and purpose in suffering, and who can make beauty from ashes. (Isaiah 61:3)

One of the conference speakers pointed out that although God asks questions, He doesn't ask them in order to get an answer. After all, God is all-knowing. God asks questions to reveal the heart. He also doesn't always give an answer to our questions,either, because He is the answer. I wonder if God hears me crying "I need You now" instead of my question "What for?" and "Why?"