After being able to surrender so much to the Lord for the past 11 months, I recently took it all back and totally crashed and burned. It began when, based on the well meaning advice of some who have traveled this road, I began looking back at this time last year.
I had made notes last year during those final dark days last year, and so I opened up those notes and read and re-read them, and began writing. As I did, I began picking scabs off of almost healed wounds, and I found myself plunging—not sliding—plunging into the deep, dark depths of despair and sorrow; deeper and darker than right after Mac’s death. I wound up having horrible nightmares where I chased Mac but never caught up with him, I fought battles in those nightmares where I became wounded, and I woke up with my heart pounding, and my jaw sore from grinding my teeth. Worse, my spirit was raw and aching and I was lost in a sea of misery. By Saturday night I was filled with such anxiety and fear that I was unable to sleep at all.
I’m aware that grief is different for everyone, and how you approach your grief is different. I’ve had well meaning people tell me that they wonder if I really loved Mac, and they wonder if I really miss him—simply because I’ve been able to turn all of this over to the Lord and rely on Him for my strength, comfort and joy. Yes, joy. I’m not joyous that Mac is no longer here, after all, he was a huge part of my life and I miss him terribly; but I can rejoice that Mac is healed, happy and in heaven. I can rejoice that I belong to a Savior who loves me so much He died for me (and Mac – and YOU!) so that I might have forgiveness of my sins and spend eternity in glory.
Yet with all that God has done for me, I took my eyes from Him, failed to really pray about this step of examining the past, and failed to counsel with my pastor and tell him how desperately I was struggling with this anniversary. I know that my pastor is a godly man who would have guided me, but I told myself that he had enough burdens without my adding to his schedule. When he finds this out, he is likely going to be upset with me for thinking this way; and he would be right in being upset. After all, God placed me in this particular church, under Pastor Mike’s leadership and guidance for a reason, and I failed to follow God’s leading in this whole situation. I’ll share something else: if Mac were able to, he would tell me my actions were wrong. For several years Mac told me FBC was a good church, with good people, a godly pastor and we should go: but I refused. So all those years, Mac knew and I rejected; and now, once again, I have rejected the strength and help that God has provided for me.
Sunday I was totally exhausted physically and spiritually, but the Holy Spirit nudged me and I knew it would be good for me to go to church and sit under the preaching of God’s Word. So off I went. As I pulled into the parking lot the Holy Spirit once again nudged me and some great verses in Philippians came to mind, and I realized what I needed to do: stop looking back, and once again look forward.
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”—Philippians 3:13,14 (KJV)
So I paused in the parking lot, asked God to help me look ahead, and stepped out of the car. Oh, I wasn’t instantly “okay”; but I could see a better day ahead. The music spoke to my heart, and the message was just what I needed to hear, although I’m sure as pastor studied, he didn’t know how it would apply to me. In fact, I challenge you to read Romans 9:10-13 and see if you find an application there for a grieving widow. ;) Trust me, God’s Word never returns void, and the help I needed was there.
I spent Sunday and Monday catching up on my lost sleep. I also spent a great deal of time reading my Bible and praying. I have also learned that my struggle was shared with my church family and they were all praying for me. What a blessing!
Today I am better emotionally, and much better spiritually. I am once again sleeping well, resting on the promise of God:
“In peace I will both lie down and sleep,
For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.”—Psalm 4:8 (NASB)
There may be difficult days ahead, but I am determined to look forward not backwards, to hold tighter to God, to seek godly counsel when needed, and to rejoice in whatever God has in store me. I covet your prayers for me as I go through this time.