April 16, 2017

The Struggle is Real

I know I have said it before, but grief sucks. And I am convinced that all of us are going through some kind of grief, at various stages and levels. Some are in the grief of transition to a new job or new town or new season of life. Some are in the grief of a lost job and the uncertainty it brings. Some are on the grief of lost relationships, whether trough death or divorce or some other means. Some are in the grief of losing a child. Some are in the grief of life not turning out the way they expected. Some are in a grief so deep it feels impossible to take another breath. Some are moving out of those days of deep grief into a more stable emotional state, but things are always a bit rocky. Some are finally moving into having more bright days than dark days. But grief always seems to hang around the edges, ready to strike at the first possible moment.

I sort of have this love/hate relationship with grief. Often times I am convinced it's another one of satan's biggest weapons. It comes out of nowhere, most of the time. It feels so overwhelming and all-encompassing. It forces you to be selfish and focus on nothing but earthly things that you realize in the end don't matter. Little things become massive things in a matter of seconds. It hijacks your day, even sometimes hijacks your week.  Or month. Or year. For me, this manifests itself in things like laying in bed for up to an hour just begging God to give me the strength to get out of bed and face the day, having to take a nap to even make it to dinner, being grumpy and short-tempered with my kids, insecurity flooding every area of my thoughts, barely having the energy to think about school, let alone do school (yet knowing homeschooling is still what we are supposed to be doing), feeling awkward around everyone and not having any idea how to have a normal conversation with someone, my blood pressure rising at the thought of being in groups, and having others depend on me for anything (which works great for being a single mom whose children will be orphans if anything happens to me.)

Yet, at the same time, though I know grief is not something the Lord ever desired for us, it's also a tangible proof that our Lord does indeed give good gifts. If the Lord didn't give us the gift of love through others (spouses, children, friends, mentors) or other good things here on this earth (jobs, churches, ministries, etc) we would never feel the sting of grief when there was a loss or a change. I want to hate grief with all I have, but at the same time, I know that having Kevin in our lives was a gift right from the hand of my loving, gracious Creator, and having him in our lives was worth every moment of grief we've lived or will face in the future.

The last few months have been such a struggle between this love and hate. So many of the affects of grief in my life are negative and I know that I can't live there. I can't live in selfishness. Fear. Doubt. Confusion. I must choose to live in peace. Hope. Joy. Trust in my Creator. It's so hard not to give in to the negative. Not to dwell on what's missing. Not to dwell on all that my kids are missing out on in their father's absence. Hard not to let comparison and jealousy take root and grow where the fruit of the Spirit should be growing instead. While grief does prove that God has sent good things my way, it also tries to steal any other joy that God is sending.

I cannot let the grief win. I cannot give in to the dark. This makes me so grateful for the truth that my God can handle my questions. My doubt. My fear. My confusion. My hurt. My pain. He can handle my screams and my tears and anything else my grieving heart decides to throw at Him. He's that big. He's that loving. He's that gracious and merciful. So on the days when the darkness is winning, I force myself to run to God. Those are the days I pray out loud, sometimes through tears so thick I can't see anything around me, sometimes so upset I can hardly keep from screaming. It's on those days that I force myself to pull out my Bible (the hard copy one where I can actually make noise turning pages) and read His word and see all the marks and notes I've made reminding me that His word is living and active and speaks to me each time I read it. Then I get out some pens or markers, some paper, and I write His word out. I read it out loud. I remind myself of the cross and the empty grave and that grief and death and fear and all.the.things. don't win. God wins. Hell and death are defeated. Christ is victorious.

He's received a lot of my tears these last few months. I've shared my story several times, which always brings raw emotions to the surface, draining me of all energy, mental ability, and compassion for others. It makes it hard to not dwell on "Why me?" and "It's not fair." and "What was he thinking?" and "Why couldn't You heal him here so we could spend the rest of our lives sharing with others how our awesome God brought wholeness and healing in spite of addiction, and He can do it for you, too?" I honestly don't think those answers are coming here on this earth. When I get to Heaven, quiet frankly, I just won't care. (But I am thankful He lets me shout them at Him anyway!)

I still get near panic attacks anytime I think of closing my eyes here and opening them on the shores of Heaven. I don't know why. That will be the most joyous moment in my life. I will be more alive in that moment than I was in a million moments here. I will be free and whole and just as God created me to be, in that moment. Yet, it scares me almost more than the thought of leaving my children here as orphans. It's ridiculous and I hate having to go to God over and over again and admit this fear. Is it a lack of faith? Is that God's way of telling me I am not truly saved? Is it just satan messing with my mind? I have no idea, but I am thankful the Lord never laughs at me or turns me away when I come to Him to confess this fear. Again.

I know there are some lifestyle changes I need to make in order to help with the anxiety and lack of energy that creeps in at times, but, I just don't have the energy to do it! I know that cutting out a lot of carbs and sugar and processed foods would benefit all three of us greatly, but even the thought of trying to plan a menu and do a shopping trip for meals that fit that makes me want to curl into a ball and cry. I just need to be able to sign up for a service that delivers Whole 30 meals right to my door. I don't mind cooking them at all, I just need someone else to do all the planning and the shopping and provide just the amounts of each ingredient that I need.

I also know that I need to be much more consistent in my exercise. Right now I am a little all over the place (though the last two weeks have been better.) I need a routine and I need accountability to get my rear out of bed and do it. I mean, I am already up and have finished my quiet time most days before the kids get up, surely I can fit in just a short 20 minute workout of some kind in each morning, right? I am so thankful for the the ladies who have been running with me. They are keeping me accountable to doing something at least three days a week. I just need to step it up on those days in between.

More than anything, I need to get back to praying scripture. It's so easy to give that up when I let grief convince me to focus on the hard instead of the grace. It causes me to spend most, if not all, of my prayer time focusing on me, my questions, and what I want. While the Lord does love to hear from His children, He also loves to speak to them. Also, if I want to be praying His will, there's no better place to start than with His word. I have slipped from this practice in the last two months or so. Admittedly, it takes work and intentionality to do this and I just haven't put in the effort. But the times that I do it are so sweet. The Lord speaks sweetly to my heart and gives me just what I need to get through that particular day. I must get back to that.

I hope that, though this post is a little random and probably hard to follow, it helps someone to see that, no matter what phase of grief they may be in, there is a Helper to get you through it. There are words of comfort and peace and hope in the Bible. Open it. Read it. Write it out and display it around your house. Are you confused? Hurt? Have questions? Talk to God. Ask Him every question you have. Shout and scream if you need to. He can take it. And He'll answer. He never leaves and forsakes. Not sure you can trust Him? Let's be honest, when you're in the midst of the throes of grief, what do you have to lose in order to give Him the chance to prove He's faithful?

Lord, thank You for getting me out of bed each day. Thank You for being patient with my questions and my childish temper tantrums. Thank You for going to the cross when I was a sinner spitting in Your face. Thank You for the many women You have placed in my life, all over the world, who send texts and emails and messages and just pray for me far more consistently than I pray for them. Thank You for their encouraging words, gifts of love, texts full of laughter on days when the tears won't stop. You know just what we need and You send it, even if we don't see it because we think we need something else. You are a good, loving Father. Give me eyes to see the gifts you give and the words to voice those gifts, especially to my children. Teach me to wear my "grace goggles" (thank you Larinee!) so I can see each grace gift in the moment, as you give it, and name it so the next time I doubt I have a tangible example of Your love and faithfulness to cling to and to tell my children about as they wrestle and struggle, too.

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