The winter seems barren and desolate. I have long wondered how I would cope through the cold winter months... Now, being in them, I find myself asking the same question... How do I cope?
God has called me to this barren land, to embrace the pain, to enter in and do the work of grief... I hear Him whisper, Remain faithful to me, my daughter. Remain faithful to the perilous task of grieving, to the pilgrimage you are on... for I will accomplish my purposes in you.
Yesterday, I faced the dreaded task this winter brings... packing. I opened a drawer and sobbed into three shirts while the girls ran circles around me laughing and playing... Pretend you're the girl and I'm making rainbow soup! No, I'm the Mom and you can be the princess. Pretend I made the soup and now we're going to the sea! - Mama sobbing into Daddy's shirts has apparently become a commonplace event in our "new normal" :) They didn't skip a beat!
The shirts remain on my bed. The box in my room stays empty. How can I pack away my husband's things? How can I look into my bedroom closet and not see Lynn's colorful array of ties and worn belts? How can I open my drawers and find them empty of his belongings? How can I face my front closet without the comfort of his coats hanging there alongside my own? Ugh. Dreadful packing... I've decided that I may be able to manage the task at a rate of one sock a week... But even then, it feels completely unbearable and makes me want to scream in agony. I don't want to say goodbye!
There are so many ways I'd like to avoid the pain. So many opportunities our culture affords for distraction. That seems our typical response to pain after all, Have some distraction! Take a pill! Turn on the TV!
But God has called me to the wilderness for an express purpose...
Therefore, behold, I will allure her, will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her. I will give her her vineyards from there... a door of hope; she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth... And it shall be, in that day, says the Lord, That you will call Me 'My Husband'... I will betroth you to Me forever. Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to me in faithfulness and you shall know the Lord. (Hosea 2:14-20)
As I look ahead toward empty drawers and closets in the many months to come, I feel like I am stripped of everything I hold dear... Paul's words haunt me, But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ... (Phil 3:7)
If I can remain faithful on this path, I know it leads to abundant life. But to gain abundant life in Him, is to count all things loss... to let go... to lose my life and find it in Him... to be stripped of all that I hold dear...
Can I do it? Can I endure these long winter months? Will winter end and spring arrive? and a door of hope be opened?