Monday, February 21, 2011

Riding the Waves

They say that grief comes in waves.
I'd have to agree.

For several years we lived close to the Atlantic Ocean and we spent many hours there watching the waves come crashing to the shore. I never found much pleasure in getting in the water but I did enjoy my time just sitting and listening. Seeing the bigness of the ocean before me.

When I think of the first few years of my journey with grief I think of that ocean. I think of standing in the water and seeing that big wave coming towards me and there was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. I could only stand there and try to brace myself as it hit me with all its power. And most of the time it knocked me to my knees and I felt as if I was drowning under it. My hands and feet searching for something solid on which to stand.

When I did find my footing I stood there gasping for air, searching the shoreline for something familiar. Some sign of where the wave had taken me. Trying to figure out how far I was from where I had started. And, just as I was starting to find my way back, I would see it coming towards me. Another wave. Coming to knock me down again.

That's how the grief was for many years. I would see it coming. I could feel it building and it would hit me with all its force. I would find myself on my knees, on my face, laying there holding on to a little stuffed monkey that held the smell of my tiny girl. Gasping for air, trying to breathe. Looking for something to hold me up and help me stand again.

I would search for any sign of the familiar. Anything that felt normal. So desperate to fill the aching hole in my heart. I would cry out to God to make it end. To take the pain away. And He was always there. Even when I tried to push Him away, He was there. Helping me to my feet and holding me up. Even when the next wave hit.

I remember visiting a beach on the west coast of Florida and seeing a whole different ocean. This one was much calmer. I remember just floating there in the beautiful, blue waters. Feeling the gentle waves rocking me like a baby in her mother's arms. Soothing, comforting, calming. There was no fear of being knocked over and pulled under the water. Just peace.

As I have entered this fifth year of grieving I am realizing the grief still comes in waves. But, like this ocean, they are calm, soothing, reassuring. When they come I find myself just giving in to them, laying back and letting them carry me where they take me. They are my friends now. Reminding me of who I am, how far I've come, and where I am going. I don't look out in to the future and dread them. I welcome them.

Like the waves of the ocean, they remind me that there is someone bigger than me who is in control of everything and I can trust Him. He is holding me in His arms as I face the waves, be they big or small. There is no wave to big for Him. They also remind me that the one I long for, grieve for, is being carried in those same arms and I am only one breath away from seeing her again.

I can't even imagine the ocean that she is playing in today.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I trust You

I think maybe living here in the quiet of the mountains is changing me. I don't know. But I hope so. Sure, it gets a little lonely but lonely isn't all bad. I feel as if the air is clearing some of the cobwebs in my head, helping me to see things more clearly.

I notice things about myself I haven't noticed before. Not all good, but not all bad. I know that my time living here is going to be brief but I am grateful for the rest and healing and growing I am experiencing here in the quiet, the stillness, the solitude.

One of the things I am learning about myself is that I crave security. I want to know that things are going to be the same today as they were yesterday. From what I have read I guess that is pretty normal. Especially for women. I won't beat myself up for that.

But what I don't like is how I let that craving for security interfere with my trust in God. I don't like how I try to control or manipulate my circumstances to create a false sense of security. I don't like how my first reaction to change is always fear or worry or anger.

But this mountain air is changing me. Or maybe it is age. I don't know. But I see now that life will never be secure here on this earth. The security I crave will always elude me here. It is something I will only find when I move on to my real home.

And, knowing that, I feel secure. I feel safe. This life seems to be a never-ending series of twists and turns. Just when it seems we have it figured out we are faced with a new decision. An unexpected change. But that is life here on this earth.

But I am slowly, and painfully, learning to rest in the security of trusting Jesus. Instead of worrying, planning, and plotting, I find myself simply trusting. When a new twist in the road appears I am learning to just say, "I trust you.". I am not going to keep listing all of my concerns over and over, as if saying them to Him one more time will change anything. I am simply going to trust Him.

I trust Him with my past.

I trust Him with my future.

And I trust Him today.

Right here. In the mountains. Even though it is temporary, I trust Him.

And I am grateful for this time to learn and grow. Right here in the quiet of the only place I know that never changes.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Welcome Home

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was lost. I had allowed myself to become involved in a relationship that was hurtful, demeaning, and had robbed me of my very self. I didn't know how to find myself again. The girl who believed the best in people was gone. I so desperately wanted her back.

Weeks before, my parents had made the six hour drive to pick up their shell of a daughter. I will never forget the phone conversation with my mother just the day before. So hurt and broken, but too proud or scared to tell her I needed her. But, thank God, she read between the lines and she asked a simple question, "Do you want to come home?". And I broke down in tears and all I had to say was "yes". She did the work for me. She made it easy for me to admit my brokenness. I will be forever grateful to my parents for their willingness to put the past behind us. To forgive and bring me home. No questions. No "I told you so". Just love and grace. I know it was hard. I know they were hurt. But they put it aside and brought me home.

Home was a place of comfort. I let my mom cook for me, do my laundry, even sort through the piles of unopened bills and mail. I let them take care of me. As much as they love me, though, they could not fix a wounded heart or bring peace to an anxious mind. They couldn't fill the empty spaces. I know they recognized this because after several weeks of watching me wander around the house trying to figure it all out, they suggested I go to the camp I had gone to all of my growing up years. I was too old to be a camper but I could be a counselor.

So, I packed my sorry self up and made the drive to camp. I remember it was such a pretty day and driving through the hills of Western Pennsylvania was like a breath of fresh air. I took deep breaths and tried to let my mind rest and enjoy the beauty around me. And when I pulled into the gates of the campground I felt my body begin to relax. I started to feel a sense of hope that maybe here I would find myself again. Maybe God and I would make peace with my past and I would find what I really needed. His grace. His love. His forgiveness.

And, as if God wanted to outdo Himself that day, I got out of my car and saw a familiar face. A friend. And as we started to talk I knew that I was supposed to be there that day. During that week, we talked and talked, and talked some more. We shared all of the things you can share with someone you may not see again for a very long time. But we did see each other. Less than a year later we were married.

God had brought me grace and forgiveness and love. But he also gave me a new beginning. He brought me home. Dean and I have had many places we call "home" over the years but we know that a house is truly not our home. Our home is in each other and our love for God. No matter where this life takes us we are always home when we are together. Serving our God wherever He puts us.

So, every time I see that familiar face I hear my heart telling me those precious words, "Welcome Home".