Grief and Hope
Loveys, my friend died.
She was Jeff's administrative assistant for four years, and I think he and I are just still shocked by the whole thing. She and I are the same age. She has a lovely teenage daughter and an adorable two-year-old son and a sweet husband who's been through this kind of unimaginable grief before. My heart hurts for the three of them.
The phone call came Saturday night, and I covered my face with my hands and cried. Jeff just seemed stunned. After all, he'd spent every day with her for years. How can she be gone? A beautiful life. A special person. I keep thinking about this moment two years ago--we went to see her in the hospital after her baby was born. Such a happy day. Perfection. A little family in a hospital room, filled with love. No one could have known that day that just two years later she would take her last breath.
It. Is. Devastating.
These kinds of things scare me and frustrate me and fill me with both raging and plummeting emotions. I don't want this to have happened.
Loss. Grief. Sorrow.
Life is a mixed bag. Our friend who passed away lived near us. Just a few streets away really. It seems surreal. Houses filled with families, eating dinner, watching movies, laughing and talking and playing. Except in one of those houses, everything stopped on Saturday night and a mom went to meet Jesus and things will never be the same for that family.
Rewind to a week before.
Sunday morning, Jeff and I look at each other across the kitchen island. I raise my eyebrows. "Are we going to church?" He answers me, "Yeah, we should go." We pack up the kids (this process feels very similar to packing up to go to another state for a week), and head to our church. I'll be real with you, loveys, it's been a rough few months. To get really real, it's been a difficult year. We drop all the kids at their respective classrooms and go sit next to each other in church. Do you know those moments? Where just getting there has been enough to make you need a nap? You're desperate to hear from God, but you don't even realize it. You just hope you hear something that will help.
Our pastor started speaking to those people listening who need a comeback.
I didn't have to look at Jeff. I cried during the whole service. I needed every word like a drowning woman needs air. A marriage comeback. A lifestyle comeback. A faith comeback. We got to the car afterward, and Jeff and I cried and held each other while the kids were chaotic in the backseat.
Every now and then God does this. He shows up when I didn't even have the wherewithal to ask him to.
Fast forward a week later. It's Sunday and we're headed to church again. Just hours before, our friend breathed her last. I still feel shaken by that. By the reality that we can be perfectly happy and busy loving our family and living life--then everything can change and suddenly we're dying and it's fast.
Worship begins and we're singing out that God is the breath in our lungs. And it means something different to me. Because I'm just so grateful to even have breath in my lungs when my friend doesn't anymore.
Life is a gift, lovey.
Her life was a gift too. We're grieving for her. We're heartbroken for her family. We'll miss her.
I closed my eyes on Sunday and lifted my hands and sang out that God is the breath in my lungs. The Author of life. The Giver of good things. The Receiver of the ones who pass on.
Every breath is a gift. We can't go on without it. When we reach a moment where our every breath is God in and around us, where every breath is gratitude, I think it's a moment of awareness and beauty. To me, that time of worship was so comforting. And there was the reassurance that when I no longer breathe on this earth--God will be my only breath.
Loveys, it's hope amid grief.
That's what faith is. Hope.
These moments give us clearer perspective. Some things matter a lot less than others. People get all worked up over all kinds of things.
Sometimes, we need to just take a breath . . . and be thankful we're here.
Pray for the hurting. Love our families.
Do you see the picture above? I've been to that cemetery in Galveston. It's kind of amazing actually. All these gorgeous flowers. Life pushing up around loss. I told Jeff to slow down as we drove past because I couldn't stop staring.
We ALL need hope sometimes. Whether it's hope for our marriage, hope for our future, hope for change, and so on.
Here's the thing lovey, as long as we're breathing, we can make changes. Even if it's as small as just changing our perspective. There's hope. God shows up sometimes when we're not expecting him to. Life goes on even though terrible things happen.
Things stop. Things change. I know this to be true. So do you.
The past week has been an emotional one for us. It's also brought perspective and truth.
I've wanted quiet. I've wanted solace. I've wanted to hold my babies tight and be glad I have breath in my lungs. I've lifted up my friend's family in prayer over and over. It's a reflective time. Sometimes we need that. Slow down. Breathe deep. Be thankful. Worry less about the now and consider the vastness of eternity. After we heard the news that our friend had passed, Jeff just reached over and we held hands. And I was so glad he was there. Thankful for another night together. Thankful for the three beating hearts in the other rooms upstairs.
I'm thankful for my friend's life. So many people loved her. I wish she was still here.
One of my favorite hymns says, "God leads his dear children along. Some through the waters, some through the flood; some through the fire, but all through the blood. Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song, in the night season and all the day long."
I love those words. I keep singing them. It's like that moment of worship--so comforting. I've been thinking about worship ever since Sunday, and the different experiences I've had with it. Brother Dale at Calvary, singing steady and calm. Kim Smith at East River, keeping time by stomping his boot. Hundreds of voices at LBT, with all the men singing out and holding their Bibles up in the air. The passion of that moment almost unnerving. Singing the benediction at Grace in Lynchburg. Standing and singing at Milldale during campmeeting. Louder and louder.
Calling out to God because we're desperate for something.
Hope is a beautiful thing, lovey. It lets us breathe a little when we feel like we just can't.
Love is a beautiful thing, too, lovey. And it lives on forever.