2017 is here. I did not make any New Year’s resolutions. I have been quietly contemplating 2016. Reflecting on the past year. Asking myself several questions.
Am I closer to the Lord than I was a year ago? The answer is not a simple one. I shouldn’t be tossed about by the waves and wind. I am to be steadfast in my faith. It’s a hard thing to look and see the times I have let the Lord down. Been weighed down at times by sin, mostly because of anger and bitterness. Living by emotions because of my grief. Not the whole story. But, it did happen.
I lived in fear last year more than any other time of my life. Fear of upsetting people, fear of losing someone, fear of saying the wrong thing, fear of doing the wrong thing, fear of standing up and fear of being me – all that God wants me to be. I have allowed others to control things because I am afraid of the consequences of what may happen. It has caused me to withdraw from people. It has caused me to be quiet when I should speak up. The fear I should have is found in Luke 12: 4&5 “” I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him. Strangest thing of all is it’s not a fear of dying, it’s a fear of losing relationships. Fear of being an outcast. It’s a dread. Peer pressure at my age?! The verse I have chosen to remember through-out this year is Psalms 27:1 “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?” I have to trust Him. Him alone.
January of last year I joined a study group at church. The study was Experiencing God. It made a huge difference in my walk with Christ. It confirmed the ministry of A Parent’s Worst Nightmare. Yes, a ministry. A ministry to others who have gone through the death of a child. Many have contacted me over the past year to talk about their child, their life since the death of their son or daughter. Many have contacted me on behalf of people they love who have lost a child. I have been overwhelmed with the awesome power of the Lord to use such a simple thing – sharing what is going on with me. Things I have experienced, things I have done wrong and things I have done right. It is a wonderful thing to know we are not alone. God is with us. We are with each other. Comfort, care, love and support are so very important.
My husband gave me a Fit-bit for Christmas. It tells me to get up and take a stroll! Drives me nuts. As I was thinking about it this morning, I thought wouldn’t it be neat if I could have a Fit-bit for my spiritual life. A little nudge that says get up and read your Bible, time to pray, stop concentrating on earthly things, stop looking at people, be angry but don’t sin. Wouldn’t it be nice? Something physical to buzz when I am fixin’ to do or say something I shouldn’t. I do have something to warn me. The Holy Spirit. Only at times, I choose to ignore it. I choose to sin. Emotions are created by God but being led by them is a good way to end up on the wrong path. Emotions can lead to bad decisions. Emotions can cause me to stay in bed, not get dressed, speak in anger, feel bitterness, do whatever makes me happy in the moment, and isolate myself. Emotions can lead to good decisions and actions (when I allow the Holy Spirit to control) – empathy for others, concern for others, loving others, caring for others, and laughing!
So, am I closer to the Lord than a year ago? Yes and no, it’s according to the day, hour or minute that is compared. I have grown spiritually. Thank God, my faith is wholly in Him. I still have hope. Thank God for forgiveness. I still have to pay the consequences for my sin. Don’t really like to think about the seriousness of sin or how important it is to even avoid the appearance of evil. It hurts my witness. What others think about my life does matter. As much as I want it to be different, it’s true. I did not obtain perfection this past year. I did grow in the Lord. I depend on Him more everyday. Christian life is a process.
How’s my relationship with my husband? I love him so much. We have been through many joyous and tough times in our 37 years. The death of Amanda has thrown us for a loop. We both have changed dramatically. My husband lost his baby girl. Amanda had him wrapped around his little finger. I have never seen him under such stress. He is a man who saw good in everyone. Everyone! He is a peacemaker. He loves his family. Has always done his best to look out for us to the best of his ability. Someone who was there for us – physically, financially and emotionally. He protected us. He stood up for us. Now, he is caught between a rock and a hard place. He is suffering, I can see it. He is better at holding in some things better than I am. But, he is grieving tremendously. He has had the same fear I have had. We are better together than we were a year ago. We do talk more. We are just different. Still love each other. Still need to open up to each other more but it will come with time. It is also a process for our marriage – to get through this grief.
How far along am I in the stages of grief? I still think of Amanda off and on everyday. It still seems unreal. I still weep. I still cry. I still look at her pictures. I still do not really understand. I still question why. I still struggle to talk with others. I still get anxious. I still miss her. I still want to talk to her. I still want to hold her. But, it’s not like it was a year ago. It’s like my knees. Sometimes they hurt and I can barely walk up a staircase. Sometimes I can bounce up stairs with no problem whatsoever. Doesn’t mean there is not arthritis in my knees, just means some days they work better than others. Grief is the same way. Amanda’s death has brought on several different levels of distress, depression and social adjustment. Bereavement after her sudden death was at first felt as shock and numbness. At this point, I am not in shock and I do not feel the numbness. I no longer have a whole day of crying, I can pull myself together. I am better than I was a year ago. I am healing in a way I can not explain. The pain is not as intense. The struggle is not as intense. The sadness is not as intense. God is the only reason why. He alone can heal the broken hearted. I am thankful for this progression although I’m different. Losing someone we love is not something we can move through quickly. It is a slow process. It is a process we have to go through for our own sanity, safety and security.
Some of you are in a different stages of grief than I am. Some of you just lost your child a few months or weeks ago. Some of you have been dealing with it for years. Everyone is different. God made us different. We are not robots – we have emotions. Emotions can be used for good or for bad. Don’t let emotions keep you from living. Don’t let emotions keep you in bed. Don’t let emotions keep you from getting dressed. Don’t let emotions keep you isolated. Do let the emotion of love keep you going. His fruits can keep us going – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Gal 5:22-25
We are not alone. At times we may feel like we are but God is with us every moment of every single day!
Love, hugs and prayers, Manda’s Mom #APG