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."