Sunday my heart hurt as I walked into August with unfulfilled desires that I thought God said were coming true now. As I stood there in church during worship, I remembered what I thought I heard and my chest felt heavy with the unfulfilled. With the desires in heart that I’ve been clinging to. And I remembered the way July has just sucked. Both my husbands uncle and grandma passed away in a span of 3 weeks. Along with a gloom over my heart and no fulfilled desires and the way marriage can sometimes feel like a burden more than the blessing. Dishes pile in sink and I love you’s are forgotten. Like the heat wave it brought, July lit the fire of testing over our life.
My natural reaction is to clench fists, harden heart, put up walls. But I don’t want to be the woman who only holds on to praise in the good times. In the times that everything is fulfilled. I don’t want to be the woman who only releases clenched fists when I can see the road ahead.
We stood in church on Sunday, and though I remembered what I thought I lacked, though for a moment I allowed myself to feel the lie of being deeply alone in this, I closed my eyes and heard His gospel. Eyes closed with unclenched fists, He invaded broken heart and He took the pieces and held them close. He saw who I really was on Sunday, passed fake smiles and clammy hands in fear that they might see what I’m really feeling. Passed the wall and the bitterness and the way I lost my temper the night before. The way I couldn’t comfort the sad eyes of my husband for a moment.
I close my eyes and the gospel sings and wraps me close. Reminds me that I don’t have to be the clenched fist woman when the testing arises. When July brings heat and death and the unfulfilled. Gospel sings and Father comforts and Jesus brings the joy that is mine. So like a thief I quickly consume it all. Hurting heart that slowly mends in gospel.
I write down desires and plans with Father and I trust Him with hope in heart. And today my devotions said to take it slow, as if He knows. He knows. So we take it slow, say a prayer, walk our dogs down the quiet road. We laugh because love is sweet like He said it would be. Like He promised it could be. Fulfilled. And death doesn’t sting in the morning. Memory is good in the morning. I swear we ran into every elderly man in town this morning. Conversation like we are old friends. It’s August and it’s slow and we remember who we are. We believe in who we are. In the One who slowed down life, at least for this morning.
Birds sing, flowers bloom, coffee brews, pups snooze. We begin again. All is well in the land of milk and honey this morning.
I’ve felt the seeds planted. I’ve watched it take root and I saw it begin to sprout, it aches within me. Do I deserve to ache? I’ve never felt the kick. I’ve never seen the heart beat. She turned the screen from my face. Never experienced the getting ready for. The blues and pinks. Like the other mothers have. I chose to leave it. So like a weed I uproot it. Like a weed in my flower bed I tear it out and throw it away – far away. Because I don’t want to deal, with truth. With pain. With reality. Like a weed so deep I continue to pull. But my soul can’t forget. The could have beens. My soul can’t forget small life and I reach for the paper with that signature. It’s mine but unfamiliar. It signed over goodbye but the me now yearns for the other road. Yearns for the early mornings and the tired eyes. The voice that would call me mamma and the small hand to hold. And though I forgive the younger me, the liar reminds me. Little life gone. Because he said I’d be better off. he said the world would be better off. he slipped in during the night, in the quiet, and he said this isn’t life. he said he would let it go but he hasn’t let it go. he still slips in during the night at times and reminds me. But I’ve seen the Light. It outshines the night. And I refuse to begrudge this life. I refuse to let the weeds take over. It hurts but it won’t separate. I won’t let the hurt of little life gone separate me from the Healer. From Creator. From the One who created the little imprint in my soul in the first place, I will worship Him. The giver of life. Of light. Of healing. Of wholeness. Despite the rawness. Of goneness. Of pain. Despite the yearning, and wanting. Despite the plans that go unfulfilled. The lullabies unsung. In these moments the liar would feel accomplished for us to stay sulking. For us to stay living with this burden, with this pain. But whatever darkness we encounter, we can choose to look for the light and follow it. And I run. I sprint into the arms of the Hero. I fall into the carrier of the cross. Of my mistakes and regrets. Of my loss. The strong arms of the one who is. It’s done. It’s Heaven. It’s more than I can describe but it’s freedom. And I can rest. I can breathe. I can trust. I can cry but believe that the tears will be wiped away by Jesus. Like a cycle. Then comes mourning. Then comes healing. Then comes hope. Then comes morning. Always comes morning.
I hold on to things. I’m by no means a hoarder, but I definitely still have “Babs”, the stuffed-dog I got when I was two. (And I definitely still sleep with her, my husband has accepted this.) I hold on to memories and love and pain all the same. Like stepping away from relationships. All of those years I held knuckle-white tight. And learning to be independent and who I am as this person God created. If we let them, people will shape us into a shadow of ourselves, and when they leave we can’t recognize our own reflections. Sometimes we have moments where we have to choose whether to remain stuck in the waiting for change to hopefully come or we have to take the leap to reach change now.
I get lost in my own mind sometimes and relive moments with my grandma, I still have her number saved in my phone as if I could call her whenever I want to. I get lost in her memory and her goodness and her love for Jesus. I wish she could see me loving Him, too, the way she always prayed I would. I remember the night she made her way to Heaven and I wasn’t sure how any of us would continue to live. How would we make it without her? But tomorrow came and we had to choose to move with it. I’m so thankful I finally chose to move with it.
We walked down the beach tonight and there was a young boy with his mother, and I think of my child. I think of the way his memory used to be shut away, too painful, always taunting by the enemy. And I think of the way God has redeemed it, so beautiful, so thankful I can talk about it. He would be big enough to run alone and play in the ocean and laugh and talk with me about who knows what. It hurts for a moment but I think of Heaven immediately and the setting sun behind us. And I smile. I’m full of joy in heart at the thought. How much greater is it all on his side of Heaven?
And a year ago I couldn’t face this. The pain of growth and releasing of hands and moving forward. But sometimes God works in our time, when it comes to matters of the heart. He doesn’t rush our wounds to heal and He doesn’t push us when we aren’t ready. Because He knows it’s not easy being us. He came down on earth as one of us. He knows life can be ugly and burdens can be heavy and this bed seems far too safe compared to the world outside of our window. He knows people die and fathers leave and relationships end. He knows results come back a devastatingly positive and the rain seems never-ending. And so he doesn’t push us, but encourages us, that yes, the pain in your heart may be overwhelming some days but there is a sunset over the ocean painted just for you that he doesn’t want you to miss. Just a sunset over the ocean that can help our feet to move forward, even if it’s just one small step at a time.
And what’s on the other side of moving forward has been so worth getting out of bed. So worth the releasing of hands. So worth all-in trusting Jesus. So I will leave my pains right here, where the shore meets the sea. I will let it wash away with each wave. Because although there is pain, God is still good, the sunset is still so beautiful, and Heaven is surely worth it all.
“I don’t want something so tragic to be suppressed into my stone heart. If someone is going through this I want to pour into them. It hurts. It sucks. It’s full of regret. It’s full of wondering if there’s healing. If anyone will ever understand. I want people to know that I understand. I believe there is healing. I believe this will always be painful. Always be embarrassing. Always be shameful. But I believe one day I will wake up and a burden will be gone. One day I will wake up and breathe light. It will hurt but I won’t be scared to share. To speak truth about abortion. To speak up.”
This week will be 42 years since Roe v. Wade came into affect. 42 years. 56 million babies. What they don’t tell you is abortion is not an easy fix. It does not take away the fact that we are still mothers and fathers. Sometime around now I could have been celebrating life. I could have been buying birthday cakes and candles and there could have been celebrations. And I’ve fought with my inner self for some time. It seems like over the years I’ve counted every footstep I’ve taken that has separated me further from that day. Further from my younger self who didn’t choose life. And it rings true that we don’t realize what we had until it’s gone. And by then it’s so far gone from here. I’ve spent time staring out blank windows feeling an emptiness. Watching the snow fall out blank windows and days would change but the pain always remained the same. I’ve spent time with a jealous heart when mothers walk hand in hand with their babies. And I’ve spent time wishing for mine. Daydreaming of an echo of a voice in my mind and wanting so badly to reach it. For it to be real. I’ve beat myself up over the goneness. In the silence. I stayed silent for too long. But 56 million babies have come and gone and how many more since my own? How many more moms only realize what’s missing when the missing comes far too soon? I wonder if they are dealing with it or if they keep it hidden in their heart. I wonder if any of them have begun to stare into the same blankness and are wishing that same wish. One thing the abortion clinic doesn’t prepare us for is that there’s no refund. There’s no getting our babies back. When we realize what we have actually done. They say it is best for us. That we will be relieved. But abortion is forever and so is the yearning for our babies back. They never prepared us for the day we would blankly stare out of these windows watching the snow fall, missing a baby we only knew for a little while.
If I could give advice to anyone facing abortion I would tell them to really think about it. Lay it all out there. A baby might not be convenient in your busy life right now, but life will get quiet. And in the midst of the silence “what-ifs” become overwhelmingly loud. The temporary inconveniences will pass but the regret is lasting on the heart. Know that the after-affects of abortion is more draining than chasing around a toddler ever would be. I want to face it head on. I don’t want to be scared of it. I want to speak life into it. I want to declare victory over abortion. Because the world tells us to keep it hidden in the darkness but there is healing in the light. After all this time I’ve finally found peace. I’ve found a piece of healing. I’ve learned to loosen my grip on this secret. I’ve learned to embrace the memory of the one I only knew for a little while, and I marvel in the Lord’s promise that I will one day see my baby face to face. I refuse to stay silent anymore, because my child’s death will not be in vain – for there will be victory over abortion. You were here. You existed. You are remembered.
A voice is heard in Ramah,
Mourning and great weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because they are no more.
but I will turn their mourning into gladness;
I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.
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The other side of it all
Waking up isn’t easy when you don’t see a way out. There’s no way out of the hopelessness and depression you feel. Loneliness is just behind those covers and so you bury your face within them for just a few moments longer before the alarm clock goes off. You wonder what’s worth it. You wonder what’s worth standing out in the cold. What’s worth facing a world that continues to knock you down? Maybe you’ve lost a loved one and it’s still too hard to walk passed their picture hanging in the hallway. Maybe you’ve failed at something you’ve put so much effort into and you just can’t bare to try again. Maybe the bills are piling up and you don’t know what to do. Maybe there’s an addiction that keeps knocking at your door. Or someone has hurt you right down to the core and forgiveness seems so far away.
The snow falls and it gets hard to go out into the world. It gets hard when it looks dark out there. The snow falls hard but it melts away. The Earth doesn’t let the dark of the winter define it and so it makes beauty within the snowflakes. It always melts away and let’s new things bloom into life.
Whatever it may be that makes waking up hard to do, whatever burdens or failures that are pressing against you, they don’t define you. You can lay in bed until 3pm because it’s safe, because there you won’t fail. There you won’t walk passed that picture in the frame. There you won’t get hurt and you won’t feel the cold, brisk air burn your cheeks. But there you miss out on falling in love. You miss out on meeting someone new for the first time or helping someone who needs you. There, hiding in that bed, you are safe but you miss out. Put on your scarf and face the cold and make something of the day.
You can rejoice in the memories of your loved one and when the missing gets too heavy to carry you can lay it at Jesus’s feet. You can cry until snot drains from your nose but you can laugh hard until your belly aches and know that the world is still turning. A failed test doesn’t reflect a failed life. Just because you haven’t met “the one” doesn’t mean you have a terrible love life. Love is in helping an elderly woman find her dogs in the freezing, cold weather. Love is holding your newborn niece for the first time, staring at her in awe because you can’t believe God put this all together. Everything doesn’t always go as planned. Life isn’t always perfect. We can stay miserable or we can accept that we don’t always get the life we think we deserve. We aren’t perfect but we can accept that because He already has.
Waking up can be hard to do and things aren’t in our favor. We try our best and sometimes we fall down and it hurts. But sometimes we don’t. Sometimes it goes our way and we are waiting for something bad to happen because life just isn’t this good to us. Sometimes the stars align for us so we wait for a meteor to come crashing in but it never does. The stars align and our babies laugh and our cups overfloweth. We are just a week sober and that is enough to make us dance. We truly forgive and we forget why we were ever upset. We see someone in need so we give them all we have to offer and feel their overwhelming thankfulness in a hug. All because the chance of something good happening finally outweighed the bad that is keeping us in our safe beds. We faced the brisk, cold air on our cheeks for a chance that our stars might align, and eventually, without fail, they align. All because waking up was hard to do but we did it anyways. And for this, we rejoice.
Two years ago today i held my grandma’s hand as she lay in a hospital bed and we described together what Heaven will be like. I put my face on her chest, and she just smiled as i told her i wasn’t ready for her to go. she quietly said, “you will always be my nah-zee.” i miss her voice. her voice was gentle yet strong and passionate when she prayed. she prayed for everyone. all day long she whispered His Name, “oh, Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.” i replay this voice in my head often hoping to never forget it. Two years ago my grandma made sure to make each of her grandchildren promise her she would see them in Heaven one day. i told her i would but my heart wasn’t sure if that was true. i told her i would see her again and she squeezed my hand. i miss her hands. her hands were old but they were beautiful. they squeezed my wrist as we crossed the street when i was a little girl. they made the best scrambled eggs and the best chocolate cherry cake. they clasped together tightly as she prayed to her great God Almighty. it’s been two years since i’ve gotten to look into her blue eyes. mine were filled with tears and sorrow that day but hers were filled with excitement and joy as she prepared to leave for Heaven. when you looked into her eyes you just knew her soul was destined to sit next Christ. growing up i never had a strong personal relationship with Jesus but i knew my grandma from the inside out and i look back now and think that sitting next to my grandma as a little girl was the closest to Jesus i could have been. it’s been two long years since i told my grandma that i would see her in Heaven. i hadn’t gone to church in years, the Bible i got when i was 8 years old was like brand new, i was not living for Jesus in any way, but my mouth spoke the words before i wholeheartedly thought about what she had asked, and i told her i would see her in Heaven. i believe in the very moment my tongue spoke those words to her i unknowlingly signed a contract and God was the witness. i believe from that very moment God made it His mission to fulfill that promise to my faithful, God-fearing grandmother. two years ago i began to lose my life just so i could find it. there is nothing that i long for more today than to be able to look into my gramma’s eyes, hold her hands, hear her voice, and pray with her. to seek advice from her in times of struggle in my walk. my heart hurts for the wasted time i didn’t do those things when she was here but i know when i get to Heaven Ella Mae will be waiting. if there could ever be the ideal way to pass away, she let out a big, peaceful sigh, and you just knew Jesus Christ picked her up and took her Home.
“your Heaven is going to have a big blue house, just for you. with a big flower garden. with lots of onions and chocolate cherry cake. and a big blue sky. with golden roads. you’re going to sit right next to Jesus, gramma.”
One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.
i suppose change is temporary. like freezing or thawing still water. changing who we are and then realizing we’re the exact same person as always is as natural a cycle as breathing.