Click here if you haven't read Part 1 yet.
In the days after we lost Grace I completely withdrew from almost everyone and everything. Social media. Friends. Face-to-face interactions. Grocery stores. Everything. I was terrified of people. Terrified of having to converse with people, of having to supply something they needed, whether it be comfort, encouraging words, anything. I had nothing to give.
I was both in awe of my sons, that they were living and mine, and terrified of them needing anything from me. I did zero parenting in those first days and weeks.
Family was really the only people coming over for the most part and I could only handle so much and then I would literally abruptly stand up and walk out in the middle of conversation and escape to our room where I would curl up on our bed and start the process of crying and surviving all over again.
(You may be wondering why I'm sharing such a behind-the-scenes look into grief. One, because I have a point, and two, I can only share this now. I could have never shared this before, it was still too raw and painful. It still is painful but less so; I feel more removed from that blistering first season of grief.)
|This was just a few weeks after we lost her and my smile never reached my eyes in those days. It was hard to find joy.|
But if there's one thing I had in those days, it was Jesus. And this is so difficult to explain because I can't handle it sounding so churchy but there's no other way to say it. I heard a Focus on the Family broadcast recently and the guest was explaining how difficult it is to explain God's kindness and nearness when you're walking through such painful times, that it's like describing a color nobody else has ever seen, and that completely resonated with me.
Because here's the thing. While I did cry and lament to Matt every single day, he alone wouldn't have ever been enough to bear my grief. Nobody saw the full extent of my grief. I knew almost immediately that nobody would be strong enough to bear it except Jesus. Even the best comforter, best husband, best mom, best friend, is not good enough or strong enough to alone hold you up.
Day after day I locked myself in our office and opened my Bible, desperate to meet with Jesus. I journaled constantly, unable to really speak my pain but able to write it. I was desperate to be anchored in truth. I needed to remind myself daily that I had his hope as an anchor for my soul. That my story and pain had eternal weight and that he was the same God he'd always been, he had never changed.
There is something powerful about meeting with God in the secret, something so precious, so intrinsically valuable. It grieves my heart when I hear people describe having to spend time with God, having to get it done, get it checked off. He's so rich and so wise and so full of depth and mystery, there's no end to discovering him!
When you have Jesus, when you really have him, when you walk with him in the secret, anchored in his Word day after day, it solves about a million other things at once. Not to mean that it solves you of your sinful nature and the battle between the flesh and the spirit, just this morning I yelled at my son in our rush and my frustration and had to repent to him, but it solves so many of our counterfeit life-finding attempts.
There's this woman I know and I really, really (really) look up to her. She's godly, she's wise, she is who she is without pretense (my favorite type), she speaks truth and doesn't put on a churchy face. I just really, really like her. And recently I found myself wanting to impress her. I wanted to "drop" a comment about what I'd been learning in my devotional times and I wanted her to think it sounded wise. (Right?? What the?)
And while I regularly have to repent of doing something out of pride or with impure motives, this time I was able to remind myself: I don't have to do that. I have Jesus. Our meeting time is a treasure and so rich and something to be prized in my heart, not diminished by trying to prove myself.
On another occasion recently I was introduced to a new friend. She's beautiful and confident and in my younger, immature days I would have been tempted to find something disagreeable about her so I felt better about being less pretty than her. (Seriously, the thoughts.) But I was able to remind myself that I have Jesus. I have my place in him, the Creator of so much beauty and wisdom and light and goodness, and I need never have to compete or prove or fault-find. And it frees me up to rejoice in others' beauty and gifts and abilities, especially if I don't possess them. I can speak face to face and rejoice in my heart for them, be intentional to speak encouraging words to them.
Because I have Jesus.
At the end of the day, when all is said and done, when life is great and when it feels like a crapshoot, when others receive and I didn't, when I receive and others didn't, when I'm understood or not, when people assume and they're wrong, or maybe they're right, at the end of the day, I have Jesus.
And he's just so much better than every other counterfeit treasure. He can withstand the storms of grief. He can withstand the insecure heart. He can withstand the fears that form into anger. And only he can withstand them. Not even the best person in the whole world (and believe me, I know some quality ones) can bear up under the weight of our hearts and minds and souls and all that they bring to life.
"Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him."
Taste. See for yourself. He is good. And he is a refuge.
And if you need proof that Matt is one of those quality ones, these pictures from last night are it. Let me preface them by giving you some context.
The boys: Mom, can we help you paint?
The boys: Dad, can we help you paint?
Matt: Sure thing, I need some help right here. Great job, guys!
Hashtag he's definitely the better parent.
And one more for good measure.