Friday, April 25, 2014

Pushing Pause

"Good Friday is like pushing the pause button. When we pause and remember the cost…" 
maybe paraphrased, Pastor Tim Guptill, Good Friday service, Moncton Wesleyan Church (#Mdubs)

This is what Christians MUST do on Good Friday. And this is what grievers must do throughout their lives. No matter how much time has passed. No matter how fast or slow life is changing or moving forward. There are times when the heart cries out for a moment. A pause. A moment of silence, not orchestrated by an outside force during some memorial service, but a call from an inner voice that beckons us to push the pause button in the midst of life. To be still. And to remember.

In this moment, extended over several days, I push pause to sit in the memory of the love I shared and lost. The man I knew and held. The friend I laughed with. The companion I lived with…

In Lynn's death I lost:

  • my husband
  • my best friend
  • my lover, intimate companion
  • my safe haven
  • a brother in Christ, spiritual fellowship
  • my co-laborer in the gospel
  • the man who fathered my children 
  • the other parent of my children
  • the fourth member of our family, the one who filled the fourth chair
  • my source of joy, delight, and tremendous laughter 
  • my fellow inquisitor and deliberator
  • the other part of my "when two or three are gathered" (Matt 18:20) or "when two or three agree"(2 Cor 13:1), my prayer partner
  • the co-leader of our family
  • the spiritual leader or male covering over our family
  • the one who loved food, cooking new things, and helping me with my diet
  • the one who loved running errands for me no matter what time of day or how big or small the list
  • the one I would sit and watch movies with on a quiet evening
  • the one who would be coming home at the end of the day
  • the one who listened to my deepest thoughts, fears, hopes, dreams
  • the one who loved to travel and plan trips, who pulled me out into the world
  • the administrator who filled out forms and helped with financing 
  • the one who flattered me constantly and encouraged me on a consistent basis
  • the one who romanced me with endless flowers and cards, usually over-the-top, well-planned dates and vacations
  • the one who tried to help around the house and take care of outdoor jobs
  • my social buffer, the one who carried the conversations of social networking
  • my driver, who always loved to be the one behind the wheel. 
  • the one I admired for his energy, integrity, and excellence in all things
  • the one who told me every day that it was the best day of his life
  • my helper in hospitality, the one who entertained
  • the one who challenged me and pushed me forward
  • the one who challenged my conservative understanding of God, church, people 
  • the one who shared my love for music and worship
  • my musical partner and accompanist, fellow artist

  • the honorable position of being a wife
  • being in society as a married couple and family, being invited to "couple" events
  • the ministry we shared together
  • the blood connection to Lynn's family in the US
  • the excitement and experience of being "Lynn and Natasha"
  • the connection and mediator between me and the local church
  • the connection to many musical networks throughout the Maritimes
  • the "couple friends" we enjoyed together 
I feel like that barely scratches the surface...

Plunging East looks different now. As life changes and unfolds, grief is not as much 100% of my time and energy. But it happens on an ongoing basis, as I discipline myself to push pause, to take moments, maybe each day, maybe each week, maybe each month, and sit in the memory of a beautiful man that I loved and lost. The world may keep turning, time may go forward, and life may continue on… But when I push pause, I grieve. I remember. And I honor my beloved husband Lynn.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Part 1: The awkward humanness of the heart.

This is a tricky post to tackle… 

I am learning how to live and to love again. These two seem to go hand in hand. In this process, I feel both the awkwardly human journey of reviving a broken heart, as well as the beautiful spiritual journey of God making all things new I've decided to write about each "layer" somewhat separately for the sake of my own processing. So first, the soulful layer, the awkward humanness of my broken heart :)

How does a heart that's been shattered by grief learn to love again?? How does a life that has both lived and ended in catastrophic loss, pick up the pieces to chart a new course?

To open myself up again to loving, is to embrace the possibility of great pain. The heart has learned many lessons on its journey through grief. It could love again, and he could die. Anything could happen. The possibility of loss/death is a post-grief reality. I could be shattered into widowhood again, for a second time! How would I survive it? Could I ever survive it? The heart wrestles with these questions, even when the mind already knows the answer... 

To open myself up again to living, is to embrace the probability of further suffering. Life will always include trouble (Jn 16:33). Blessing and suffering will always intersect somewhere... Life will move in a continued rhythm of both gains and losses, joys and sorrows. Is my soul stretched enough? Wide enough to endure? (God's grace is sufficient) (2 Cor 12:9) Is it enlarged enough to have survived catastrophic loss and still embrace a new future? A new life? With new blessings and new sorrows to come?  

After catastrophic loss, the broken heart knows and wrestles with these two things: 
1) That the unspeakable pain of grief is the worst evil a person will ever know… 
2) But also, that life is a gift and must be lived, no matter the cost.

Wrestling with these two "heart-truths" (in my understanding) is what often leads a widow(er) to do a number of "crazy" things… These heart-truths are enough to turn old priorities on their head. To change up what was once a solid system of values and beliefs, now a heap of useless scraps. The old lens of seeing and perceiving life is smashed and broken, a useless tool. A new lens is sought and formed, through which to see and perceive the world, life, and relationships. In this lens, suffering and the fragility of life are basic known facts that further impact life decisions. 

Many times, I have heard people criticize a widow(er)'s wild decisions after grief. Often, people do not understand that "wild" and "crazy" is an almost inevitable follow-up to death. The heart is in such a state that it will either fly or die. It will either lurch itself forward, awkwardly and dangerously, grasping at hope and the promise of a future, or it will shrivel up in fear and agony. There is no more luxury for the "normal" in between. The bereaved gets to choose between fly or die. Thrive or shrivel. 

After death, life and love do come again. But they come with an undercurrent of loss and terrifying vulnerability… And this vulnerability often leads to one extreme or another: either a radical leap towards life, or a surrender to fear.
How can one walk steady and sure in this state of vulnerability? What can one do in this wretched sea of turbulent grief without a Stronghold? Without an Anchor, to keep ones course secure and established?? 

If I did not have a Sovereign Hand guiding my step, holding me steady, guarding my heart… Keeping me when all else falls away, I would surely by now have leapt off of a cliff, into one form of death or another. 

Praise be to God, who is my Anchor in the storm, my Stronghold in the winds of adversity, my shield against the forces of evil that seek my total destruction…! 
(Heb 6:19; Ps 9:9; Gen 15:1)

More of that to come…