Sunday, November 17, 2013

One step forward, five steps back.

I can barely catch my breath. At 11:00am, a heavy fog persists, laying thick and heavy over the water, enveloping the fields, threatening the roads... Is it the weather? Or my own heaviness that steals my breath away this morning? For I find myself in deep despair, under intense pressure, once again forcing the intake and exhalation of air to and from the lungs, clinging to hope, desperate for mercy...

You would be amazed at all I've done. Not really :) But, I am. I have pursued the possibility of a masters degree, have engaged in job opportunities, have mapped out the next steps in writing my first book(s), made several appointments necessary for both family and financial health... I've agreed to sing on the worship team (occasionally) at my church, have committed to writing monthly for a public writer's blog, and am planning my trip to Bangladesh... MUCH more impressive to me, however, is the fact that I've nailed, wired, measured, and hung mirrors and pictures around the house, I've begun digging through Christmas decorations, in the early stages of setting things up, I've purchased wire, cut down branches, and started stringing up my organic garland around the deck railing, and I still managed to feed my family with homemade soup and biscuits, lots of vitamins, and healthy snacks...

My aunt Susanne recently said to me, There's something different happening. There's a sparkle in your eyes I haven't seen there for a long time. There is more strength to your voice. There's an energy there I haven't seen in years. 

My aunt Susanne is right. I have been unable to capture it in words, the amount of growth and healing that has taken place in me during these Fall months... I am awed and honored that God would heal me, both in soul and in body, after so many years of pain...

Today, though, as I try to catch my breath, as I send my kids off to church without me because I can't scrape my body up off the floor, as I wrestle with feelings of fear and shame, hating weakness, hating that I can't will my body to function... I am humbled by the awkward rhythm of grief. No matter what, it seems to progress with one step forward and five steps back. Even though I am struggling with this never ending battle of overcoming grief, for the first time, I am able to sense a progression. I am able to recognize that even after falling five steps backward, I am still ahead, having grown leaps and bounds since the place on which I started this unwelcome journey... I have a peace that goes deeper than its gone before. I have a thankfulness that is broader than its been before. I have a contentment that stretches much longer than it ever has before... In short, my soul has grown. And I can tell. (*Jerry Sittser)

I feel deep gratitude for this forward motion, humbled by how hard I have worked for it, more humbled that it has all been grace. But, it still does sadden me. The further I move ahead, the harder it is to hold on to the past. The more I step forward into life, into living again, the more I turn away from what was. The more I turn away from what was, the harder it is to close my eyes, to reach into those moments with all five senses, to feel my husband's presence beside me, to hear his laughter, to see his eyes sparkling in delight. The more I move forward, which is the healthy, inevitable choice, the harder it is to remember. And this pains me. I wish I could remember. Everything.

In my GriefShare small group, many of the men and women are discussing their choices regarding Christmas. This is my second Christmas after Lynn's death, but for many of them it is their first. They are older, most of them alone, deciding not to decorate or celebrate in any way, just close their eyes and open them when it's over. One sweet lady, Heather, looked at me and said, But with young kids, you don't have that choice, do you? You have to smile and put up the tree and celebrate whether you want to or not.  The more I am with them, the more aware I am of how awkward it is being widowed young. I don't even fit in with the widows, let alone anyone else. One woman questioned me, It has been over a year since your husband died? And you're just now coming to GriefShare? She was worried she had come too early, with her husband dead just two months now. No, I said, you're not too early if this is your time. It's different with kids. I had to take care of them first. Only now can I try to figure out how to take care of myself... It's just a very different rhythm. 

Today, I am not super woman. I am not all-powerful prophet :) Not that that exists :) I am lowly little me. I yelled at my kids all morning. I drank coffee after coffee trying to wake up. I felt like I disappointed the world by admitting that I couldn't make it to church. I haven't eaten right this morning... in fact I haven't eaten much of anything at all. And I may just lay down and watch Netflix all day...?

Rest is a command of God. A beautiful command. And this is why. I am not supposed to be superwoman. How do I continually forget that?? I am not supposed to handle thing after thing on my own without help. I am not supposed to be all-powerful as though I could attain to some divine characteristic that was not intended to be mine. I am a child. A daughter of the King. It is not based on my performance, it just is. I rest in His grace and His mercy today. I call upon His strength to be revealed in my weakness. I honor Him and praise Him for being my All-Sufficient One.

Today, I am content to be me, right now, in this instant, wherever I am at. Something I have never been before...


  1. Lynn and I barely crossed paths at school but I wish I'd chosen to get to know him better. I don't know you that well. But I wanted to offer you and your girls a chance to visit Ohio. I have a set of daughters(4 and 7) who love to play with Canadian girls.(Ask the Horners) I know it's a strange invitation but if you have free time, come here. Rest. Eat. Relax. Write. Speak with my wife and I. We were in ministry for 10 years. Just a thought.

  2. I know that you have said writing is helpful for you, but I just want to say again how much I personally appreciate you sharing your feelings and heart and life. Love you and am thinking much of you this morning.