This month’s topic of grief has been a raw one for me. Not just because of the memories of my chapters of grief, but also because I hate to think of my 4word family (that includes you reading this!) having to endure a difficult time in their lives. I believe wholeheartedly that God can use times of grieving and suffering to mold us into even more beautiful beings than we were before, but it is still heartbreaking to think of all the hurt being endured in the world.
When I think about my most life-changing moments of grief, a few situations come to mind. The first was when I realized my first marriage was not “a marriage” and I needed to end it. The second was when my oldest son was making bad decisions with his life and I was trying to help him while also juggling my career. Another tough time in my life was when I lost my Mom and Dad both suddenly, one year after each other. But the most grief I have ever felt in my life is seeing my daughter, Annie, who is now twenty-eight-years-old, deal with chronic pain and sickness for five years and is currently still in the middle of enduring.
In times of grief and suffering, I have always gone to God first, not only praying, but pleading. The accounts in Psalms of David doing this same thing makes me feel OK about going to God and crying out. I have found myself telling God that I don’t feel his presence in the middle of these situations. I ask Him, “Why is this happening to my precious daughter, Annie? Please give her pain to me.” After praying, I go to scripture each morning, which many times has helped bring me a peace about a situation. The following verse is one of my favorites.
“Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace shall be yours, which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ.”Philippians 4:6-7
Another way I try to find comfort in tough times is I go to my earthly community of my family and friends. I need my husband, Chris, to physically hold me. I am an achiever, so I’m not someone that likes to talk a lot about tough things I’m dealing with. I mostly need my community to help me laugh, smile, and escape, because there is no one working harder to think about the solutions and try to seriously solve the things causing my grief than me.
Each time of grief that I’ve gone through, I have seen God work for good. It’s such a testament to His faithfulness. Coming to the decision to file for divorce brought me so close to God. The Holy Spirit gave me comfort that I had done everything I could to save my first marriage and in my case, it was time to “end it.” I didn’t confide about the situation with anyone except my pastor, so I thought that only God would be with me through this grief. It turned out so differently, though, because literally everyone else came alongside me. I am so much more compassionate about relationship challenges because of my journey through divorce.
When my son case was making bad decisions, I learned to pray constantly. There were times I didn’t know if I would see him again. I openly share this story and always have a mom thank me when I do, because my story gives them hope. What a beautiful outcome from a dark time!
In the case of Annie’s chronic illness, I see the Holy Spirit working through Annie daily. In September, we were at the Mayo Clinic for an emergency appointment (which God miraculously made possible!). A woman at the Mayo Clinic suffering with a similar pain was drawn to Annie because the light of Christ was shining through my daughter even in the midst of pain. God has used Annie to touch so many medical professionals and people in pain through her story. She also has over 4000 followers on her Facebook page, Annie’s Army, that she encourages by sharing updates on her story.
To anyone going through a time of grief and suffering, I want you to know this: it is OK to grieve. You have to let yourself grieve. Tell the community of people around you what you need during this time. This is actually what I told my 4word community as I left for The Mayo Clinic this last month on our third trip to the Mayo Clinic during Annie’s struggle.
“Please pray for us as we leave today for The Mayo Clinic that the doctors can solve this alarming new condition. I give God the glory for opening an appointment as I called one week ago, last Monday after two weeks of vomiting, and we got in in a week. A miracle! Since one of my Strengthsfinders is ACHIEVER, it drains me of energy when you ask me about Annie’s health. Please do not email me about her health either, I know you are praying. Your prayers are so appreciated.”
If you are going through a difficult time, I lift you up in prayer, whether I know you and your personal struggle or not. I know the pain you are feeling and the hopelessness and doubt you are wrestling. It is my prayer that you remain strong, lean on your community, and remember that one day, your dark time might be used to bring light into someone’s life.