Friday, January 10, 2014

Living intentionally

I was reading this blog post last week and paused when I came to this question: "What were the most important events of 2013 and how did they affect me?" I realized I couldn't remember any significant events from 2013. In fact, I couldn't remember anything of 2012, either, due to the shock of losing my son, and the reason I don't recall anything of 2013 is because I was simply too busy trying to get back into life, into living.

To be sure, there were important, and even joyful, events in 2013, like birthdays and such, but recovery from grief is an agonizingly slow process. The effort it requires to get back into life is simply astounding. I look back to where I was two years ago and still can't believe I survived. But I don't want to just survive. I want to thrive. I want to overcome. Things will never be the same. I am forever changed, and my family is forever changed. We will never be the same. We will never go back to the way we were, and things will never go back to the way they were. Healing is now about moving forward and trying to define the "new" me as well as my "re-defined" family.

The loss of a child makes you question everything, most especially your purpose in life. Additionally, when your child's life ends suddenly, without warning, there's no chance to say sorry, to make amends, or say good-bye. I have enough regrets about Matt's and my relationship that I most definitely don't want any more. I can't change the past, but I can purpose to do better in the future. The death of a child is a wake-up call, a call to live intentionally.

I want to know, too, that I lived intentionally, not just over the past year, but throughout my life. I receive Ann Voskamp's emails, and the one from this Monday struck a chord, as well as the Proverbs 31 ministry email from Tuesday titled, "The God Moment That Changes Everything." (Yes, I'm back to reading!) What stood out to me was the realization that I wanted to fly again. I want joy again.

Ann talked about memorizing Scripture, specifically the book of John, through what she called "The Jesus Project." I shook my head and chuckled. John is the Precept Bible study I'm currently attending. I love when God does stuff like this, speaks to us first one way, then another, all with the same message. I believe His message to me right now is to seek joy.

(Photo from Ann's website - the Jesus Project printables)

Tuesday's email from Proverbs31 Ministries also reiterated to me that my son's death was a wake up call, and I could either shut the alarm off and go back to sleep or I could get up and get ready. This sentence from the devotional said it best: "But here’s what I’ve discovered: the effectiveness of any alarm is in direct correlation to how much you don’t want to hear it. In other words, until your desire not to hear the alarm outweighs your desire to keep sleeping—you’re not going to wake up." I can listen to what God is telling me or I can choose to ignore Him.

In the beginning, the pain of losing a child is so great, you just want to die. You search for anything that will take it away. Finding even just one thing to be thankful for seems an insurmountable task. It's why I believe it's crucial to turn to God and focus on His character, as well as find a grief support group. I truly think your very life depends on it. How you respond to your loss those first few weeks and months determine, I believe, the course of your healing.

I don't want to just survive the loss of my son, living the rest of my life never experiencing a depth of joy that equals the depth of grief that I've experienced. I have to believe that that's not what God wants, either. God is a God of intention. He never intended for death to be the end. Never. God's story has always been a life, death, life story. (This is just one of many truths GriefShare reveals in their 13 week session.) I want to live, and run, this race of life intentionally as the apostle Paul says in 1 Cor. 9:24-27. God gave us Jesus, not only to redeem us, but to enable us to live a life of intention through His strength, for His glory, and by His grace.

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