Saturday, November 3, 2012

My Life As A Misfit

For those of you who have been following my blog and are not on FaceBook, I wanted to let you know that I've started a new blog; http://gailwahl.blogspot.com My Life As a Misfit.  You can read about why I ended ToMakeItWorthThePain and started this new one.

Thank you for journeying with me.

Gail

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The new me..........


The Dragonfly carries with it a symbolism of:
Hope, Depth of Character, and Opening of One's Eyes.
It has become one of my favorite symbols during this journey.
A dragonfly flew into our home on our 2nd Closer group meeting and landed on
the wall next to Ryan's portrait.  It died there and remains.  I do not have the heart
to remove it.  I call it my Ryan Dragonfly.  Silly, but carries meaning for me.
 
This week someone asked me, “Does it seem like it has been a long time?”   I had to pause to answer because it always seems like just yesterday we received the call that Ryan fell, yet it has been almost six months.  That is half a year!!  How can that be?  Seriously! I guess when you are walking through each day learning how to live with a changed existence you lose track of time.  Each day carries so much effort that you stop tracking time and just focus on taking that next step.

I have been taking that next step for six months.  Each of those steps has led me to the new me, whoever that is.  This last week I had some interesting experiences that showed me that as I begin to engage back into my old life I will be entering back as a different person.  My perspective on life and my understanding of the important is different.  Consequently, as I make my way back into my old groups my experience is going to be different than it was.  I learned this the hard way, or maybe it was the only way, as I went back to my book club.

I have a group of wonderful friends that I have shared a book club with.  We had not met since before Ryan went to live in Heaven.  I was excited to see everyone and looked forward to it all day.   There was so much catching up to do as I hadn’t seen some of them much in the last six months.  As we shared dinner together we took turns sharing what has been going on in our lives.  The strangest thing began to happen to me over dinner; irritation began to creep in.  I couldn’t put my finger on why I was getting increasingly irritated but as the night went on and I sat and listened to incredible stories of what was going on in these dear women’s lives I just wanted to crawl out of my skin.  All I could think about was fleeing and getting home to Luke.   I forced myself to sit there out of respect for these dear friends but I didn’t hear much because all I could think about was how I was going to avoid sharing myself.  I knew they would want to know how I was doing but I just simply didn’t want to share.  I didn’t want to cry, I didn’t want to go there.  I just wanted to go home.  This was so unlike me.  It came to that dreaded time and it was my turn to share.  I don’t know why I didn’t trust these sweet ladies enough to just say, “Pass!”  But I felt some kind of obligation to give them a window into my life.  I opened that window briefly with some tears and mumbled answer to questions and then said, “I have to go!”  and made a quick exit.  I rushed home and headed right down stairs to Luke.  I hadn’t seen him much during the week and it just seemed vital to connect with him.  I could tell he sensed my weirdness but he humored me.

Instead of just moving on and hoping it wouldn’t happen again, the next morning I decided to email my friends and try and explain my odd behavior as best I could.  Of course they showed much grace and wanted to know how they could support me better. I am so blessed to have them in my life. I think it ended up being a learning experience for all of us; them learning how to support friends that are grieving and me learning more of what my needs might be.   That night I needed to just “be”, nothing else.  I also realized that I am not the same person I was.  I am now their friend whose son died.  That is a fact and it has altered who I am.  It will be my quest now to learn how to live within that new framework.  It hasn’t ruined me, but it has changed me.

I have a sense that this might be my last blog.  I don’t know why I feel that but someone told me once that I would know when it was time.   It has been an incredible 6 months of journeying together with you all.  My quest was to journal how ALL things were going to work together for good if I chose to continue to love Him in my pain.  He has shown me many, many things and I have personally grown immensely.  But I will be honest, I still would not have chosen to have Ryan leave us to find these things; but my trust in God for the outcome has not wavered.  The mystery will always be there, but my commitment of offering my pain to Jesus and trusting His purpose is steadfast.

Just this morning one of my dear friends sent me a song.   There isn’t a YouTube link to insert here so you will have to look it up yourself, but it is Shelly E. Johnson –“ All Things Beautiful” .  The phrase that I am claiming is this:
 
The soul that finds a song to sing,
Despite the pain and suffering.
Besutiful, beautiful,
Oh how beautiful,
The heart that brings an offering,
Of praise before the One who makes all things.
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
 
I will be speaking at Woodmen Valley Chapel on Tuesday, November 13 at 7 pm.  Between now and then my mind and heart must be focused on what God wants to say that night.  It is the monthly women’s event but they are opening it to all (women, men, teens), so if you want to check in with us, please join us that night.  I would appreciate your prayers that going into that night my heart will be shored up and I will have been rested so I can keep my emotions at bay and just simply speak what God has laid on my heart.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Why I have not fainted at my affliction..............


A New Life
I quote a lot of scripture on my Facebook and in my blog.  I want to be real and acknowledge that I am not the kind of person that can just quote scripture off the top of my head.  I marvel at how I can be in conversation with someone and they say, “This reminds me of how in blah, blah blah, it says, blah blah blah”, and they quote the entire scripture.  I’m dumfounded and a bit jealous.  My memory stinks!!  But the amazing thing is that what my head doesn't remember, my heart does.  I know God's promises are there, I just have to  go to my precious computer and search for their location. 

Through my journey God’s Word has been my source of comfort and strength.  I have been amazed over and over how I run across passages that speak my heart.  This morning I had one of those moments.  I feel as I ran smack into 2 Corinthians 5 and my heart just jolted as I realized that if I just put my name in the place of the apostle’s I would be saying the same thing.  It was confirmation to me that my heart is linked to God’s Word and very intimately to Him.  Take the time to read this entire passage and know that my heart is speaking this as well and this is why I have not fainted in my present affliction.

For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.

6-8 That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.

9-10 But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing. Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions. Sooner or later we’ll all have to face God, regardless of our conditions. We will appear before Christ and take what’s coming to us as a result of our actions, either good or bad.

11-14 That keeps us vigilant, you can be sure. It’s no light thing to know that we’ll all one day stand in that place of Judgment. That’s why we work urgently with everyone we meet to get them ready to face God. God alone knows how well we do this, but I hope you realize how much and deeply we care. We’re not saying this to make ourselves look good to you. We just thought it would make you feel good, proud even, that we’re on your side and not just nice to your face as so many people are. If I acted crazy, I did it for God; if I acted overly serious, I did it for you. Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everything we do.

A New Life

14-15 Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.

16-20 Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.

21 How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.

I am thankful, once again for His provisions and meeting me right where I need Him.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Arrows of pain from nowhere.................


       


Great day at work, driving down the freeway, and ZING!  Out of nowhere my heart is pierced with an arrow of pain that brings tears and sorrow that is so strong there is no way I can hold it back.  I am amazed at the intensity of the pain; it is no less than the first day of my grief journey.  Why didn’t I see this coming?  How can it still be so deep?

There is no managing these arrows of pain.  They are released from their bow with a random thought or picture that floats through my mind.  Sometimes there are weeks between these piercing arrows.  I guess that is the good thing; they do not come as often.  I have determined, if my circumstances allow, to let the arrows do their job and release the pent up pain and sorrow that is always trying to build.   On the arrival of my last arrow I was able to arrive home, say goodbye to Tom as he rushed out the door and then sit in my chair and really let the tears fall.  In this moment, I allowed myself to do things I often steer away from because I’m tired of crying and cautious of sorrow overtaking; I gazed up at his picture and really looked at it.  I pulled out Ryan’s baby book and took a trip down memory lane.  These are all things that are still so important to do but I prevent myself from doing them often because I know what the results will be.  Tears are good and healing, but I cannot allow them to rule my life.  I must make decisions to not walk in sorrow, but life.

In this moment of sorrow I have choices to make.  Luke is coming home and do I allow him to see me sitting there in sorrow?  I’m supposed to go make applesauce with my lovely neighbor; do I cancel and continue to lament?  I determine that while allowing tears to wash over me is o.k., spending a whole night doing this will not do anyone any good.  I do not hide that I have been crying when Luke gets home, but he sees that I have not allowed my tears to debilitate me and I am moving on.  I go to my friends to make applesauce and we enjoy some laughter and even a few more tears as we make applesauce; she sees the honesty of my grief and helps me move on in friendship.  I chose to not get stuck that night.  Amazingly, 24 hrs later I visit Amanda and the first thing she says as she looks into my eyes is, "Have you been crying?I said, “Yesterday!  How did you know?”  She looks at me lovingly and says, “I can just tell.”  Sweet girl.

I really try to be honest with my journey.  After five months I truly do have more good days than bad…..but the bad still come.  I imagine the pain of the loss of not having Ryan here in the physical will never lessen.  Those arrows from nowhere will always be painful. But I am, can and will experience God’s Joy as I release that pain to Him and continue to make choices that will prevent that pain from overtaking me.

 A thought that runs through my head often is that Ryan would HATE IT if he saw his death overtake me in sorrow.  That night as I sat in my chair I envisioned him comforting me while I sat in sorrow and then cheering me on as I was making choices to get up and engage in life again.  My friend, Sarah, actually made me laugh that night when I was sharing this.  She said, “Of course!  Ryan would have been saying, “Woman, get up out of that chair and live life!””

Monday, September 10, 2012

Freedom In Suffering........

.


Not a dolphin from my porch...they were
too far out.


This morning as I sit out on my beach front porch listening to the wave’s crash against the shore and watching the dolphins jump with glee, I am free. I opened my Bible up to James 1 this morning and my  devotion, “Streams In The Dessert”, and I was gifted with the understanding that "Suffering" has accomplished its' purpose, I am free.  I have reached that place where I can be calm and carefree, inwardly smiling at my suffering. 

 

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.           James 1:1-4

           

I’m not smiling because Ryan is no longer with me, that will always grip my heart and easily produce tears. In fact, it just did.  But I’m smiling because of the wondrous things the Holy Spirit has done deep in my soul through my suffering.  My entire existence lies perfectly still under the hand of God; a quiet understanding of eternity has settled in my soul.  I have marveled in the last couple months how free of worry I am and how unimportant my circumstances are to my inner workings.   I have realized that the images I once had of a “perfect life” and the pursuit of foolish things are no longer.  My only choice of the day has become the purpose of God.  My emotions are weaned from people and things and I can now let circumstances be what they may be and continue to seek only God’s will.  I am now sure that “All things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purposes.”  Romans 8:28
 
“What a blessing to lose our own strength, wisdom, plans, and desires and to be where every ounce of our being becomes like a peaceful Sea of Galilee (or Gulf of Mexico) under the omnipotent feet of Jesus! From Streams of Dessert.
 
 
I am grateful for this gift of understanding.

 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Receiving His Gifts..........


Flying above the clouds I realized I was physically as close to Ryan as I will ever be again.  Tears streaming down my cheeks, holding his Bible in my lap I couldn't help but feel the grip of sadness and yet an overwhelming sense of peace.  My baby is high in the sky, walking with Jesus.  The markings in his Bible tell me he is right where he wants to be. 

As we were waiting for take –off I opened Ryan’s well warn Bible (which has become mine) and read something he wrote in the back, “I will never walk away, I will never fear.  For His love has saved my life; that much is clear.”   I’m guessing it is from a song, but wherever he got it from, it spoke to his heart and he captured it in his most precious Bible.  Captured so his mom could read it one day when he was gone and know the peace it brought him and the peace it brings her too.  Thank you for that gift my precious Savior.

More gifts to come…. Tom and I have begun a five day “respite”.   We are staying in a white cottage by the Florida ocean shore.  We can only imagine what lies ahead; restoration, reconnection and perhaps a little more realization of where we just came from and where we might be headed.   We are stocked with books and computers and cameras and garments of relaxation.  No stress ahead.

In preperation for our trip I went to the bookstore to pick up a book to read while sitting on the beach.  I went to the Christian Living section and looked and looked for something that would draw me in.  I picked up book after book written by men and women who have had important things to say about walking the Faith Road.  Nothing drew me in.  I realized that right now, at this time, God’s Word is the only book that is really speaking to me; God’s Word and Ryan’s notes in his Bible.  I am not drawn to any other man’s thoughts.  I believe God’s Word has all that I need.  This is new for me.  I’ve never been this drawn to His Word.  I've believed it, claimed it and done my daily devotions like a good Christian.…but I have had very few times when His Word really beckoned me to dig deeper.  I am now being beckoned. I am living out the power of His promises to me.  His words are truly becoming my daily bread and my living water.  Why did it take "sorrow" to bring me to this rich place of learning?  I've missed out on so much.  I cannot change the past, but God can redeem the future. I am fully embracing the gifts He has in store for me by devouring His promises and wearing them like clothing and taking them in as nourishment for my soul.

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.  Joshua 1:8 

 I toyed with not inserting the sentence about being “prosperous and successful”.  I’ve always revolted at the idea of making these my goal; to be prosperous and successful.  I don’t give a flying fig if I am prosperous and successful in the world’s eyes.  But God says that IF I keep his Word THEN I will become prosperous and successful so it must be God’s desire for us to be prosperous and successful…..but in what?  I’m thinking this is exactly what the Lord is teaching me and what He will continue to reveal as I walk down this journey of faith.  As I walk down this road I see Him offering me gifts of understanding.  It will be my choice to open His gifts.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Is it really repulsive?



This week I was looking through some pictures and found this picture of Luke and Ryan.  Luke was about three and Ryan was celebrating his 8th birthday.  I look at Ryan's precious face and wonder that God knew even back then that Ryan would only be on this earth for 12 more years.  He knew the plans He had for him and how His life would impact others and the plans He had for our response.

I know that there are those that find this line of thinking repulsive on a couple different levels.  First off, why would a person want to reliquish that kind of control in their life.  Why would I want to say that someone else was in control of my life?  I am in control of my own destiny, right?  Well if that is true, then when Ryan died, I must have lost control.  And, if I truly had that kind of control then I could have done something to avoid his death. But I didn't have that kind of control.  The only control I have is over my response to life.

The second reason some might find my line of thinking repulsive is wondering why I would want to trust a God that had my son's death in mind from the beginning of time.  If I put all my hope in Ryan's life and Ryan's success then I would probably be pretty mad at God right now for His plan.  But, thank you Jesus, there is a bigger picture in life and my choices have brought me to a place of seeing that picture.  I read a passage of scripture this morning that hit me right in my soul.  I read it with tears running down my cheeks: 

1 Peter 1:6-8

6 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

8 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

My faith has become truly genuine and deep, it is not mere words. It is more precious to me than gold, or silver or any earthly thing.  It has become the source of my eternal HOPE and this hope is not just for me!

17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

I am so grateful that my ancestors (my family) did not hand down to me the empty way of life.  I am so grateful we did not hand that down to our own children.  Because of this I am able to live out my time on earth as a foreigner with reverent fear and confidence in my HOPE of salvation!

This is what I choose!  The alternative is what is repulsive to me.  The alternative is an eternal sadness that cannot be healed, an eternal thirst that cannot be quenched.

There is no other response for me, but choosing Jesus.







Friday, August 24, 2012

How can I explain it?




How can I explain it?  It has only been 20 weeks on this grief journey and yet what I have experienced this week has had stirrings of my life before; before I experienced the greatest pain of my life.  How can that be?  Shouldn't I be walking or laying or curled up with a heavy, debilitating sorrow?  People would certainly understand and show me grace if I was.  Honestly, I'm amazed every day that I am not.  My pain and sorrow has certainly been great enough for that outcome and I definitely miss my son and long to have him next to me.  But I have received a different outcome.

This week I recognized my old life when I found myself working out at the YMCA with my family after dinner, when I sat at the computer and played Bejeweled as if there wasn't a care in the world, when I invited a guest over and actually prepared the meal and didn't have it brought to me.  These are all glimpses of my old life and they have come with a welcome relief.  But again, I ask myself, "Why me?"  Why am I experiencing a healing of my soul and peace amongst the storm of grief and joy in the sorrow so quickly?  Some might think it is because I'm not working through the grief or moving on too fast, or talking myself into something that isn't real, OR perhaps I'm putting on a show. 



A growing symphony
I’ve never been down this grief road before so I don’t know where I should or shouldn’t be on the road.  I only know where I am right now and what it feels like in this moment.  In this moment, I feel restoration on the horizon.   Does that mean I’m done crying?  No.  Does that mean I’m done missing Ryan? No.  Does that mean I’m done longing for more time with Ryan?  No.  Does that mean I won’t have those moments of uncontrollable sorrow?  No.  What it means is that I’m beginning to be able to allow the pain to be a part of who I am without allowing it to thwart what I can become through Jesus.   Sorrow and Joy are learning to play along side each other creating an entirely new symphony within me.

            God is a God of restoration.  There is no point along this journey at which He will not restore us.  I have believed that and claimed that from day one of my journey.  His Word has been a healing balm to my wounds and His love has sutured my broken heart.  There is no other explanation for the current outcome of my sorrow.  The only part I play in my healing is choosing to allow Him to be the healer.  This will be a daily choice the rest of my life.


O LORD my God, 
I called to you for help and you healed me.  

Saturday, August 18, 2012

It was just a simple question..........


It was just a simple question, “Did his wipers not work?”  My husband was cleaning out the garage and found a new wiper pump and wondered if Ryan had purchased it.  As I pondered the question the reality hit me with a vengeance; I could not call, text or Skype Ryan to get the answer to this question.  My heart broke and I had that sense of urgency one feels when you have the flu and must get to the porcelain throne as soon as possible.  I had to escape to the patio and expel the tears that were rushing out.  I had no control over the moment other than to flee.  These moments simply come out of nowhere.  I’m feeling strong, my heart is happy and then BAMB, the grief takes over and I just have to let it run its course.   



I have begun to liken my grief to a terminal disease that I have little control over, it came out of nowhere, and will only end upon my death.  That is such a dark statement and yet it is reality for so many.  So how do I take that sentence steeped in darkness and bring it to light?  I do that by running to God’s Word and claiming and believing what He promises.  This is a practice that I choose. What is my alternative?  Darkness is the alternative and I want no part of that.

One of our precious young friends went to college this week and left us with a passage of scripture he thought would encourage us; Isaiah 43.  I read it this morning and now I am CLAIMING it this afternoon. The entire chapter is powerful but I have plucked out a few passages that I am clinging to.

“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
 I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
16 
I am the Lord, who opened a way through the waters,
making a dry path through the sea.
17 
I called forth the mighty army of Egypt
with all its chariots and horses.
I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned, their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick.
18 
“But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
19 
For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
20 
The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too,
for giving them water in the desert.
Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland
so my chosen people can be refreshed.
21 
This people I have made for myself; they shall declare my praise

I am choosing to declare my praise in this moment.  This is a moment by moment journey but in this moment  I choose to dance in the rain.  

Now I can move on.