Friday, August 15, 2014

A sigh of relief

The anniversary of Matt's death, his birthday, and his sisters' birthdays are over. I feel like the elephant foot on my chest has been removed. I just want to move forward. There have been so many "firsts" this summer. I know most people think all the "firsts" occur the first year after loss, and they do. But the "firsts" continue long after the first year. Every "first" is a hurdle to jump. It's an emotional battle, and I guess I'm just tired of fighting them.

So many times right after Matt died I heard the phrase, "This will make you stronger." I remember thinking, "I don't want to be stronger. I'm just fine the way I am, thank you." But having gone through all of these "firsts" has, indeed, resulted in making me stronger. I am stronger despite my not wanting to be. It's most certainly not the way I wanted to get stronger, but it is what it is. These experiences have made me tougher. Tougher mentally and spiritually.

This strength, really, is a reflection of the healing that has taken place. The wound has healed, but the amputated appendage will never return, be replaced, or grow back. Healing means that we adjust to life as it is. That we learn to live without our son. We bear a terrible scar for life. But through it all, God has been faithful. He has provided the hope we need to carry on.

My life isn't all about grief. The sky is no longer covered black. There is a hunger and thirst for life again. I've learned how to live daily with my son's absence. Never for a second of the day do I forget that Matt isn't here. But I have learned to replace the "He's gone" thought with a "I will see him again" truth.

All of these "firsts" lately have been a huge battle against feeling sorry for myself. Again, however, speaking the truth effectively extinguishes the flames of pity. When joy and thankfulness show up, the pity party is over. Keeping my eyes on what lies ahead instead of what lies behind is the key to not getting stuck in grief. Max Lucado said it well this week in my daily UpWords email devotion titled, "A Vision of the Reward."

Paul said in II Corinthians 4:16-18, “We do not lose heart. . .for our light and momentary 
troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our 
eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.” Hear what Paul called “light and 
momentary”—not what I’d have called them, and I think you’ll agree. Imprisoned. Beaten. 
Stoned. Shipwrecked three times. In constant danger. Hungry and thirsty. Light and 
momentary troubles? How could Paul describe endless trials with that phrase? He tells 
us. He could see “an eternal glory that far out-weighs them all.”

And you–you want to go on, but some days the road seems so long. Let me encourage you 
with this: God never said the journey would be easy, but he did say that the arrival would 
be worth it!

I can breath a sigh of relief because I know that this world, with all it's sin, pain, and heartache, will some day be replaced with a new and perfect one, one without loss or grief. One in which we will be reunited with our loved ones, never to be separated again. One in which we will finally see God face to face, to spend eternity with Him who died for us. Not only will I sigh a sigh of relief when this happens, but one of contentment and awe.

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