Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Gratefulness through Grief
November. The one month of the year that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter...whatever social media you prefer is full of posts on gratitude.
And so on and so forth...
I've been surrounded by these for the past 18 days, and have truly been thinking about my gratefulness through grief. It can be hard to be grateful when everything came shattering down around me just 4 months ago. It can be hard to be grateful when something so precious & wanted was supposed to be in my arms this month. Instead....I have to be grateful with empty arms & a broken heart.
How does one do that? How does one look at the shattered mess of hopes, dreams & an unknown future surrounding them and find a way to be grateful? I'll be honest...I'm not completely sure.
But I do know that in the midst of this pain...of this grief that can seem so overwhelming at times, I am grateful.
I am grateful that I have a God that is my safe place. All the ugliness that comes into your heart after suffering through tragedy- He isn't afraid of it. I look back at moments when my anger was so big & so overwhelming, that the only safe place to unleash it was upon God. I've had very serious...very heated talks with the God of the universe...and you know what? He listened to me. He cradled me in His arms as I continued to lick my wounds in the only ways I knew how.
I've had many days where worship & prayer only came in the form of tears...I still have those days. I look at who I am now, and often see a mess of a person. The woman who once was so put together & seemed to have everything under control...she is no longer. She is just plain gone. I think about the anger, hurt, brokenness, tears, doubt, fear....and wonder how God will ever use this for His plan...for good?
And then He reminds me of some things. "Lea, where do you turn when the anger & hurt is all consuming? Who do you talk to when you doubt the purpose & plans I have, and who you are to Me? What do you pray when fear & anxiety creeps upon you in the darkest hours of the night? Do you know that I know exactly how many tears that have fallen upon your cheeks & the reason behind every single one of them?"
He has drawn me closer to Him through the death of Ellie. He is the safest place I have. I don't have to hide my thoughts or spare His feelings. He isn't afraid of them. What I have to say doesn't stun Him into silence. He only wants me to bring it to Him. Every. Single. Time. He wants me to bring it all to Him. And He is willing to meet me right where I am at. I don't have to look like I have it all together. I don't have to be anything but what I am in that moment.
I've heard the analogy that God views us as a tapestry. We see the side that is normally hidden against the wall - it is messy, ugly & convoluted. But God sees the front side...the image that is being weaved together as He refines us. It's not just "pretty things" that are part of the tapestry. It's not without suffering, pain, heartache....but He sees the beautiful picture from the other side.
My daughter dying was not a blessing. I'm not grateful for my empty arms. I'm not grateful that this is the road I have to travel. But I am grateful that I have God with me as I stumble along it. I am grateful that I have found a safe place in Him. I am grateful that because of Him, I will be reunited with my sweet Ellie girl in Heaven one day.
I am grateful that God graced me with her presence, if only for the shortest of time. I will forever be grateful for my daughter, the one who made me a mom. I'm grateful that I loved someone so much that saying goodbye was the hardest thing I've ever done.
I'm grateful that little by little, day by day...I find more joy. Some days I take a few steps back. Other days I completely turn around and run in the opposite direction. But joy is there...patiently tapping on the door to my soul.
I'm grateful that little by little, bit by bit...God is putting my heart back together. It's never going to fit back together perfectly. You are always going to be able to see the cracks in it. That is just what happens when something so important was ripped from your life prematurely. But He is helping me heal, and I am extremely grateful for that.