Grief

When Miracles Don’t Happen

I’ve been Rumbling around

With thoughts on God

And miracles and healing.

It feels that too often in life

I’ve operate under the expectation

That when we have our priorities straight

When we have our life full

Of church and giving and prayer

Then God will hear us.

FOR SURE.

I’ve been more and more uncomfortable

With this mindset and I’ve been digging

Deeper in search of clarity.

I always knew that we can’t save ourselves in our own power. However, for years I felt a desperation deep in my core that went beyond that knowledge. It told me that I was never good enough and never powerful enough to be considered a good Christian. I was always aware of my brokenness and my humanness and imperfections.

So I begged

I pleaded.

I made promises in hopes of becoming more powerful and feeling more committed.

I forced a lot.

I was desperate for God to help me.

I was treating God like a vending machine.

Here’s the deal though. Ten quarters won’t buy you more favor then one. They might buy you more soda but they don’t buy you more favor with God.

He’s not a vending machine.

He will not be manipulated.

He will not be patronized.

He will not be prioritized.

It feels like in a crazy way sometimes,

I have tried to manipulate

The Creator into blessing me.

Then when things go down hill

I check my life for sin.

Like I can control the outcome in

circumstances by DOING.

Now before I get all technical

and you think I’m throwing out prayer

and the power of the Holy Spirit and our own

human nature and repentance,

let me tell you what started me on my

Quest for truth and meaning.

When a loved one escapes death,

We say things like

” We are so blessed!”

“It is a miracle!”

“We are So grateful!”

That’s all good and true and fine!

But here’s the part that hasn’t sat well with me.

What happens if death comes?

Or something worse then death?

Are we still just as blessed?

Are we still SO grateful?

And did we still receive a miracle?

It leaves a wide open feeling of betrayal and is downright uncomfortable when one person is ‘blessed’ because the diagnosis was negative but someone else’s was positive.

When death takes one child and the other child is healed.

When one child disappears forever and the other one is found.

It feels like cruel, ill humored fate. We face grief or we face survivor’s guilt.

And we wonder where God is.

He said He gives to those who ask.

He answers to those who knock.

He says you’ll find if you search.

So how come it feels like He’s not keeping His end of the deal?

Here’s the kicker.

There is no ‘deal’ with God.

Not the kind of deal that we envision anyway.

He already Created us plus the whole entire world so He is already light years ahead of us!

He is my Saviour so having him as a priority feels a bit … dusty and lame. I mean ….really!

Our kids don’t become more or less our children by prioritizing our relationship. They simply ARE ours. In a similar way, I am God’s child and that is a fact that I cannot change by trying to love Him more in hopes that I will become more His. I AM ALREADY! (Thanks to Rhonda Schrock for setting my mind along these thoughts)

He will automatically be a priority when I am in a good relationship with Him. That’s what it all comes down to with Him.

Relationship.

Bad things are going to happen in life.

Heartbreak will come. Unfair, horrible, cruel life wreaks havoc every single day and loving God does not always shield us from it.

We will hurt. We will bleed. We will likely rather die then face life at times.

But our relationship with God can still be sacred and steady and powerful. Deeply calming.

Begging, pleading, trying to change minds, or manipulating never works well in any relationship.

Why do we try it with the Divine?

We don’t have to try to figure God out.

He doesn’t need to be defended or explained.

Taking responsibility for other people’s actions, or the ‘fate’ in life, is not our duty or our right. There’s a lot of truth to that with God as well.

While I firmly believe God WANTS to hear our hearts and wishes and dreams and deep longings that ‘cannot be uttered’, I also believe that we need to step off the pedestal of trying to get it all right, have enough faith, read our Bible enough, pray enough, or be a ‘better Christian’.

God is way more interested in having a relationship with us then having us perform our hearts out in hidden fear and desperation.

He has been waiting for a deep, trusting relationship with us since the day He breathed life into our bodies. He is deeply invested in our lives, whether we feel it or not, and He has incredible comfort, insights, blessings and adventures to share with us.

We are living, moving miracles every single day. We may not get the miracle we were praying or hoping for, but we are actually LIVING a miracle Right Now. That’s worth celebrating!

This whole SAFE relationship with God -even when life is anything but SAFE may feel like the beginning of a relationship to us, or the ending of life as we know it but in all reality, He has known us since forever.

He loves us incredibly beyond our imagination.

Trust Him.

He is still the God of miracles! There is still beauty in January.

Healing Heart

Alive

It’s the twelfth day of 2020.

It’s taken me 12 days to put words to the thoughts in my head.

And even now, they come out stumbly and awkward.

It’s Sunday evening and it’s black dark outside and the temperature is plummeting below zero.

It’s January and 6 years ago, on this very day I was bringing our three year old daughter home from another hospital stay with no idea that in a few short weeks, she would physically leave us for the rest of our earthly lives.

I wept as I drove home in the gathering dusk earlier tonight, after picking up Vitamin C and Echinacea and Throat Coat tea for my son.

I wept because I wanted to spend another day or month or year or forever with our daughter ALIVE.

I wept because I miss the feminine, sweet, little girlishness she brought into our lives.

Sometimes death feels so dead.

I know there is always Life somewhere.

I just need to choose to see it.

This year, I chose the word ALIVE as my focus.

Not because I wanted to hide the pain of death. Not because I want to live every day in a flurry of activity or growth.

I chose it because I want to remind myself of LIFE.

I want to remind myself that no matter how my heart and emotions feel, I am vitally ALIVE.

I have been making a running record in my journal of proof that I am ALIVE.

Some may think it a gratitude list if they saw it.

It’s more then that to me. While I’m grateful for everyone of those things I list, it’s also proof to me that LIFE is still happening. Right this minute.

Dirt under fingernails.

Homes for crickets.

Green in Winter.

I stand with myself and weep in the death of our daughter. It’s a healthy thing to grieve. But death can be so much more then physical death.

Death can be lived in the heart and the mind and this is where I stand my ground and come ALIVE.

I refuse to be soul stuck in the clutches of shame and fear and selfish thinking. I refuse to ruminate on things I cannot change. I refuse to believe my self worth is based on my emotions and thoughts and others opinion of me. I refuse to manipulate myself and others by doing and saying things in a passive aggressive manner. I refuse to allow other people’s issues to control my own personal mental and physical health.

I will fall down flat often this year. I know I will. But I also known that I am not the sum total of my mistakes.

Falling does not mean I am dead. It means I am human and it means I have an opportunity to grow.

I am reminding myself of my own humanity and my own power …through the wonderful grace of my Creator.

I am reminding myself by writing lists about being ALIVE.

Steamed cream in my coffee. So frothy and smooth on my tongue.

The ache in my shoulders after a day of work.

Fractured morning light on the living room wall.

The smell of icy winter.

The way my son lies, breathing in and out.

Sleep music wafting through the room.

Footsteps of my husband downstairs.

Writing down the present makes me more aware. It reminds me of the important things happening all around me and keeps me from getting stuck on things I cannot change. Things in the past. Things in the future. Things in the present that are out of my control.

I want to be ALIVE this year.

To listen without judgment.

To give true empathy without patronizing or trying to fix things.

I want to feel my heart healing.

I want to watch the woman inside of me blossoming.

I want to own my story and live my present.

I want to feel the joy and the hard and the mundane.

I want to remind myself that ALIVE is what my soul is. That no death will take that from me.

Death is conquered already. My Divine Creator is the essence of ALIVE and He has invited me into His presence.

ALIVE .

EMBRACE IT. THIS ONE WONDERFUL MIRACULOUS LIFE.

Grief

This is an article I wrote for a magazine recently. I thought I would share it on my blog as well.

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I am writing from the valley today. It’s a place each of us will walk though in life, sooner or later. The degrees of darkness in the valley will be different for each of us, but we will all face a valley. I am hoping to send a message out from humans groping through this valley to other humans who are traveling through sunshine.

As you read, my friend, remember that everyone’s valley is different. Whether it is a valley of death, financial set backs, loss of home, best friend moving away, or any traumatic, stressful, life altering experience, it is a valley. These words are not written to place people in boxes. They are not written to excuse those who are in the valley. They are written so you can get a glimpse of how it looks and feels from the darkness and loneliness of the valley.
One of the first things I would like to shout from those in the valley is that we are very fragile. Physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Physically, this makes us very tired. The smallest things like grocery shopping can leave us exhausted. Being in even a small crowd  of people seems to amplify into grandstands of humanity. We do not always sleep deeply or well. The tired, exhausted feeling still clings to us when we open our eyes in the morning. We are weak. We need to sit down and rest more often then usual.
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What you can do:
Go slowly. If we need to have some quiet time by ourselves , do not think we don’t like you! We only need to organize and rest our overtired mind and body. It would be very helpful if you would clean up our house or mow our lawn or even take care of the children while we rest.
Mentally, are brains move extra slow. We say things we don’t mean and mean things we don’t say. We get facts confused. We may forget to tell you an important tidbit of information. We may make statements that mean one thing to us, and something totally different to you. We may forget to return your phone call or text message or tell you thank you for a kindness. We may even keep your best set of dishes for weeks and simply forget to return them. You see, our brains are super full right now. It’s like this gigantic life issue is taking up all the predominant thoughts and space. Some items and people and events get lost in the current swirling around the great vortex of our life. They may resurface later, weeks down the road, or they may get lost in the tide. It is not even a matter of which ones have more value then others. It is just that the stuff that makes up thinking and remembering gets cumbersome at times.
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What you can do:

First of all, please do not be offended or take things personally when we forget to clarify ourselves. We do not mean to hurt you. Your acts of kindness, no matter how small are like a salve to our thirsty hearts. The kindness rubs in quickly, because our hearts are parched for kindness and gentleness. It is gone from view in no time, but it has made a tremendous difference on out lives! Every layer of salve you put on, no matter if we remember to thank you or not, is a layer of healing for our wounds. The end results at beautiful.
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Be patient with us and do not judge us harshly if we do not always have the best judgment. Give us time to think through new ideas. We are usually not good at snap decisions. Keep it simple. Whether it’s bringing a meal in or planning a small gathering or setting up a schedule to help us out, please keep it simple. If we are bombarded with too many options, we get totally overwhelmed. Often we may not even care about the details of how or when or where.

Emotions are our trickiest companions. This is where things can change really fast. We may tell one friend that we are having a good day. Four hours later, everything has changed. We are struggling with questions and bombarded with fears and ready to melt into a puddle of despair. This does not mean we were not honest with our first friend. It just means that our emotions are swinging all over. We do not mean to be lying. It’s like being on a  teeter totter. You may catch us, up, down or fairly level all in one day.
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What you can do…
Once again, do not take it personally. If your friend can’t talk about an issue right now, that’s ok. Give them the freedom to have some space. Perhaps you considered yourself a close friend, and suddenly feel very distant. More then anything else, this may be because you are at two very different places in life right now. Let the ones in the darkness know it’s OK to be where they are. Once again, it is likely not you. It is the enormity and overwhelming situation that makes both of you not know how to deal with the other person. Give each other grace and time. Always, always give grace and unconditionally love.
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I read an article recently by Susan Silk and Barry Goldman on how to help those who are hurting. I give them all the credit for this idea I am about to present . I feel it is very accurate and helpful.
Imagine a circle with a bull’s eye, surrounded by a circle around it, and a circle around that circle and a circle around that one and on and on as many as it takes. The bulls eye is the person most affected by trauma in life right now. Maybe it’s cancer, or death of a loved one, or a broken heart. That person in the center is hurting badly right now. The circle surrounding this person is labeled spouse, or children. The next circle is labeled close family. The next circle is close friends. The next one just friends. The last circle is associates.

You may change the order of the circle around to fit your specific situation. Perhaps your friends are closer then family or you have no spouse or children. The most important thing is to put the ‘trauma’ in the center and go out from there with people affected the most from the situation.

Now think of giving positive thoughts and kindness to the people inside the circle from you. In other words, if a family member dumps all life’s problems on the spouse, it will most likely not help the spouse a bit. Instead, the family should use encouragement, sympathy, prayers, and strength to encourage the spouse. The friends should do the same for the family. Instead of expecting the family to hold up the friends and be strong and always positive, the friends should strengthen the family and not dump all their troubles and worries and concerns on them.

So simply put, if someone is closer related or better friends with the ‘trauma person’ then you, then by all means, do not add to their burdens with burdens of your own.

This is a beautiful picture of us bearing each other’s burdens. We look out for our brother. Our other brother looks out for us. It’s a strong chain of strength that can flow with positive thoughts and prayers and encouragement right into the heart of the trauma.
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The other extreme is being so careful with every word you say that you are not even real. It does folks good to know they are not alone in the darkness. That others have been there and survived. That life is not perfect or totally uncomplicated for folks around them. It’s when folks dump too much darkness into folks already walking in the valley that the valley can become even darker.

Everyone likes a good story. Some people like to tell good stories. If they hear about a traumatic event, they nearly always have a bigger one to share. This frankly, does not help. I know I have been guilty of this in the past. If you are on the outside, looking in, do not share other sad or similar stories unless they have an encouraging moral to them. It is overwhelming sometimes, to hear of other peoples trials while you are in the valley yourself. Having someone tell you a worse story then your own seems to make you feel like they are minimizing your pain. It feels like what you are going through shouldn’t be hurting so badly because someone else had it so much worse. It makes you shut down and crawl into your shell when you actually need the healing that comes from grieving your own loss or hardship.

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Perhaps you are looking in from the outside, longing for ways to show you care. You think of a kindness and offer it to the person in the valley.  The person in the darkness turns you down. That hurts. You wonder if they don’t like you. If you offended them. If you are not good enough for them.

All these things are most likely not true. That’s how Satan rolls. Using fragile situations to amplify misunderstandings and plant seeds of lies. Most likely, the person in the valley was too overwhelmed that day to say yes. Perhaps  they were too tired to even think about it.Perhaps they were embarrassed of how needy they are right now. Perhaps they felt like a project that everyone was trying to fix. Perhaps they simply didn’t think or were distracted by something else at the moment.

Don’t give up if this happens. You can think of other creative ways to help. When people in the valley feel like those in the sunshine are ‘fitting them into their already full schedule’ it can be very intimidating. Random acts of kindness can show that you truly love them in a more gentle way sometimes.
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Having been in the darkness has changed me. The knowledge that God will bring us into the light again has held me through the valley. Prayers and kindness and wonderful friends and family that surround me have given me the courage to write these words from the dark side in life. We were treated so respectfully and with so much love in our valley.  I apologize to anyone I hurt unintentionally in my own valley.  You were all so very kind to me!
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Now that I see glimpses of sunlight and rainbows, I wanted to share a bit with others who are basking in the full light of day. Be gentle. Give grace freely. Do not judge. It may be your turn to walk through the valley soon. Then others can extend the same grace to you that you extended to them!
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