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.
I am the Lord, who opened a way through the waters,
making a dry path through the sea.
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.
“But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
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.
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.
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.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Going to the high rock mountain

The days move on and so does life. The world continues to spin on its’ axis and its’ people scurry around with the importance of their day.  I am going on week 19 of my grief journey and while my head seems fairly cleared of the cobwebs that come in the initial stages of sorrow and trauma, my emotions linger in a state of unpredictability; constantly pulling me back and slowing my pace.

The scenes before me move my emotions from one state to another.  Moving out of the shock stage and into a state of “normal” forces us to see what that new normal is.  Even though life with Ryan was never normal, we must now consider how we walk through life without Ryan as a physical option.   It appears this stage of grief might lend itself to more spontaneous tears as a simple action or experience can stir up a thought of Ryan that grips my heart and cause tears to begin to push themselves to the surface. Luke says another true sign is my nose begins to turn red.  This all happens in a fraction of an uncontrollable second and in that fraction, pain comes to the surface.  When I feel the left side of my chest (aka my heart) start to grip slowly sending sour emotional notes up my brain, I know I am going into areas that matter. 

Time to process these things that matter must be an essential component of my life right now.  I marvel at God’s wisdom of crowding our days for the first four months, knowing we needed many touches from others, and now with school starting everywhere and vacations ending, the hubbub of our lives is really settling down offering more opportunities for peace and processing.  It is time to sort out those thoughts that have been rambling in my mind and allow God to truly begin to heal the wound in my heart; something I believe only He can do and WILL do.

God, listen to me shout, bend an ear to my prayer.
When I'm far from anywhere,
down to my last gasp,
I call out, "Guide me
up High Rock Mountain!"

You've always given me breathing room,
a place to get away from it all,
A lifetime pass to your safe-house,
an open invitation as your guest.
You've always taken me seriously, God,
made me welcome among those who know and love you.
Psalm 61

I look expectantly toward these days as the Lord takes me up the High Rock Mountain and shows me what He has for me and how He wants to use this sorrow in my life to create a better me.  I don’t go with fear, amazingly, I go with peace.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

What do I see ?....................


The phrase, "Gail, what do you see?" has been floating in my head for weeks now.  I titled this blog about 6 weeks ago and it has been sitting in my future blogs folder with no content.  But God has been continually putting the phrase in front of me through scripture, sermons, conversations and many of my personal thoughts.  So today I am going to sit and think about "What do I see?"

In Jeremiah 1:11 God is asking Jeremiah, "What do you see?"  C. H. Spurgeon states that, Before you can make an impression upon another person’s heart, you must have an impression made upon your own soul. You must be able to say, concerning the Truth of God, “I see it,” before you can speak it so that your hearers shall also see it. Jeremiah 1:11,12

I have seen so much in the last four months since Ryan went to live with Jesus. I have been given new lenses to see life with an entirely different perspective.  My perspective has been washed with a mixture of pain and beauty. If I ask myself right now, “What is the biggest impression God has made on my heart through this journey?” I would have to say that I see my life as a tapestry that began at my birth and will end with Eternity.  The end of my journey wasn’t being married or having kids or owning a home or finding a great job, and it wasn’t even when something tragic happened in my life…..the end will be Eternity.  My focus must be Eternity.

Ryan was a strong and bold strand that ran through my tapestry for 20 years.  He created some pretty incredible patterns and at times I wanted to tie him off to keep his strand from going off in the wrong direction.  But God knew.  He knew where Ryan's strand needed to weave and what kind of pattern he was to make.  As I was thinking through this whole idea of my life being a tapestry my original thoughts were that Ryan’s strand has ended in my tapestry.  But that is not true at all.  It is still very present as his life and death is still having a ripple effect.  I imagine that will fade throughout the years, but there are many strands coming off of his strand from the lives he impacted in life and death. These strands will always be connected to Ryan's strand but will begin to form their own patterns with perhaps the whisper of Ryan’s strand weaved beside them.  I find this line of thinking so freeing and comforting; a tapestry full of experiences and people that never truly end because the weaved whisper of experiences and people will always be a part of who we are and make up this very moment. 

I wonder how many moments I have impacted by being in other people’s tapestries.  It is important to me that “I see” so that as my soul is impacted, I can make an impression upon other people’s hearts and become a valuable, not damaging, strand in their masterpiece.  Doing this will also bring other strands into my own tapestry making it strong and beautiful, vibrant with color.

My tapestry, as of now, consists of some pretty beautiful patterns that were created from both pain and joy.  I receive each strand, pattern and color as a part of God’s master plan for my life; the plan that leads me to Eternity as I recognize God as the master weaver in my life.

I was told that Ryan’s last words were, “I am at peace.”  That might be hard to read, but it warms my heart.   Ryan’s tapestry was filled with strong and weak strands created from many moments of sorrow and joy.  But in the end, because he chose Jesus as his weaver, he entered into Eternity with a peace and a smile.  Oh that we would all see God as or weaver and truly trust Him with our tapestry, even when it is hard.

weaving mach hands
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.  Psalm 34:8