The Wilderness of Grief

Volcanic Rock Basaltic Formation in Gran Canaria Canary Islands, stock ...

Approximately ten years ago, I had occasion to visit Gran Canaria. It is an island which belongs to Spain situated off the Northwest corner of Africa, specifically Morocco. The beaches are beautiful and the water is as clear as glass. Most tourists remain on the coasts during the day and in the numerous nightclubs after sunset. I, however, rented a car and ventured inland on this magnificent island. I did not do my homework in advance so I did not expect what I discovered, which was a blessing. It made the experience much more an adventure.

When I arrived at the top of the mountain and exited the vehicle to take in the spectacular view, I suddenly noticed the complete silence. That is when I learned I was atop a huge volcanic mountain rock. There was not a bird nor a bug in sight. No vegetation existed so there was no food to draw any creatures. It was a wilderness like none I had ever experienced…a place totally void of any life, of any sound. It was a destitute vacuum.

A Wilderness is a very solitary place. At times, such a place can be frightening; the void is consuming. If I were to close my eyes in such a barren place, it would be as if I had entered into a land of nothingness. Yet, for some reason, I was overcome with its magnificence. There was an indescribable beauty in this tenantless land. Nothing existed but me and my God, as if I was standing on Holy Ground. To find such a place of utter stillness brought a peace which surpassed all understanding. Where no life existed, my life was enhanced.

In Psalm 78:19, the people grumbled against God: “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?”. Yes, He can. This made God furious and in response He sent them rain to drink, bread-Manna from Heaven, and quail as meat in abundance. In His Mercy, He remembered that they were but flesh (vs. 39) though they had caused Him much grief (vs. 40). There is no place we can go to where God is not there. In Psalm 139, King David wrote:

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

In our darkest hour of grief, when we are consumed with emptiness feeling as if our own life has ceased and nothing but bareness exists, God is still there. His love does not forsake us for not even death can separate us (Romans 8:38-39). The wilderness is a place where God can meet us in the most amazing ways. It is through that ‘hole in hopelessness’ of which my son wrote, that we can find real Hope.

O, how God must become weary with how often we question his itinerary for our lives. How often we think we know better how to get from here to there! We are so much more prone to grumble with the conductor when the train turns south, than we are to sit patiently and wait for lessons from the Lord. He is a very mysterious guide. We never quite know what is coming next. God would never make it in the travel industry because he is always leading his best clients into the wilderness. (Piper)

“The wilderness is never easy. But God has purposes for us in the wilderness that cannot be accomplished by staying in Egypt. Those who resolve to follow Jesus must eventually spend time in the desert with him. There in that solitary place, they gain what cannot be purchased except through pain and suffering. It was necessary for Jesus to go into the wilderness. It is necessary for us also. Think of it this way. The wilderness isn’t a fun place to be. You always end up feeling alone and exhausted. You may not fast for 40 days, but you will often come to the end of all human resources. And you will feel like giving in and giving up. You will wonder why God has abandoned you. Nothing will make sense; all will seem confusing. But do not despair.” (Keep Believing)

We must never lose sight of the fact that the ‘Wilderness of Grief’ is temporary. Even a desert can eventually produce life.

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(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at: Xulon PressAmazon, Barnes & Noble and DeeperShopping. Additional international retailers: http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/biography/gifts-from-the-ashes,jude-gibbs-9781498496728 http://www.upliftvstore.com/product.asp?sku=9781498496728   Also, a Contributor on ‘The Mighty’: https://themighty.com/author/jude-gibbs/

Also, see a more complete list at: http://www.directtextbook.com/isbn/9781498496728?geis=y Please help spread the Word. TY! (((HUGS)))

 

Pearls

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I own very little jewelry. I have only one item that is of any value to me which my ex-husband bought for me three decades ago…a string of pearls. I was never very fond of jewelry because, for whatever reason, it made me feel ‘confined’ in some way. The only other item I have is a ring that belonged to my great grandmother which is of little value monetarily, but of great value to me personally.

I read an article today based on a Scripture that says: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (MT. 13:45-46). Now I have always been taught that this meant that the merchant was a person like you and me, and that the pearl was the Kingdom of Heaven. The author of this article showed how other Scriptures do not back up this teaching. Instead, he showed how the ‘pearl’ is actually you and me, and that the merchant is Jesus Who gave His all to purchase us. I had never heard this perspective before, but it got my attention so I thought I’d dig a bit deeper.

The first thing I noticed is that a pearl is hidden in a hardened unattractive shell. The shell in itself is not something that a person would be drawn to; it’s not very appealing. Yet, hidden within this shell is an object of great value and beauty. That led me to IS. 53:3 “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” I then found an article by Dr. Orman L. Norwood:

During the ministry of Jesus, the following description was sent by the President of Judea, Publius Lentulus, to the senate of Rome. This quote is from an ancient Roman manuscript:

“There lives a man of singular character whose name is Jesus Christ, in Judea. The barbarians esteem him as a prophet, but his own followers adore him as the immediate offspring of the immortal God. He is endowed with such unparalleled virtue as to call the dead from their graves, and to heal every kind of disease with a word or touch. This person is tall and elegantly shaped; his aspect is amiable and reverent; his hair flows into those beautiful shades which no united colour can match, falling into graceful curves below his ears, agreeable couching upon his shoulders, and every parting on his head like the head of a Nazarite.

His forehead is smooth and large. His cheeks without either spot, save that of a lovely red; his nose is smooth and formed with exquisite symmetry; his beard is thick and of a colour suitable to the hair of his head, reaching a little below the chin, and parted in the middle like a fork. He rebukes with majesty, commands with mildness and invites with the most tender and persuasive language; His whole address, in deed or word, being elegantly graceful and characteristic of so exalted a being.

No man has ever seen him laugh, but many have seen him weep, and so persuasive are his tears that the multitude cannot withhold theirs from joining in sympathy with his. He is very temperate, modest and wise, and in short, whatever this phenomenon may turn out in the end, he seems at present from his excellent bearing and divine perfection, in every way surpassing the children of men.”

He is “altogether lovely.” (Song of Sol 5:16).

Per this ancient writing, Jesus was a very handsome and lovely man. Yet, he was despised and rejected because of His grief. His grief is similar to that shell which shields that pearl of great price.

Having been an incest survivor myself, when I worked in the counseling field back in the 80’s I had a great burden for other survivors. I saw such as a black hole that if only could be ‘tapped into’ would release a great and powerful energy; a person of immense beauty and strength would emerge. To read this article this morning, and to consider the perspective that Jesus perceives us as pearls of great price hidden in a hardened unappealing shell, had a great impact on me. It caused me to understand a bit more of how greatly God loves us and how much more He values us.

We who grieve are not very attractive to the outside world. Some do reject and avoid us. They pass us by not knowing what lies within. They see a grey, cracked, dull ‘un-sparkling’ person from which they often look away. But Jesus sees us differently than man does. Jesus ‘looks upon the heart’ (1 Sam. 16:7). He does not reject us nor turn away from us. Rather, like that merchant, He gave all He had to seek us out. We are so very precious in His sight. He loves us that much.

At my son’s funeral, a woman by the name of Rose Marie who was somewhat a mentor to me, did something that I never quite understood yet never have forgotten. The funeral home was packed out that day; there was standing room only. I knew few, but they all had known my son. He had touched the lives of so many is such brief time. As the family, we were seated in the front row before his coffin. They began a procession of all present to pass by him and pay their last respects. As Rose Marie approached, she turned toward me and bowed her head humbly as she genuflected. I bowed my head in response and in acknowledgement. Now consciously I had no understanding of what was taking place. I was on auto-pilot still in a state of shock and disbelief that any of this was reality. However, periodically over the years this memory has presented itself always with a bit of wonderment and bewilderment accompanying it. Rose Marie saw things others often did not. She was a woman of much prayer who loved the Lord with all of her heart. What had she seen in me that loathsome day that would cause her to pay me such honor? I was nothing, a nobody, a shattered broken vase.

Mary, who gave physical birth to the Man Jesus, was a nobody. She was a simple peasant young woman; she was young and probably poor. She was not a princess nor renown. She was a small-town girl from the insignificant village of Nazareth.

 The family was so poor that when she went to the Temple to present Him to the Lord, she could only offer a pair pigeons – the offering of the very poor. She could not introduce Him to the culture of the day. Being poor and enduring a forced exile in Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15) Mary and Joseph had little education to pass on to the young Jesus. (History’s Women)

I am obviously not Mary and my son was not Jesus. Yet, I sometimes wonder if in some peculiar way, we who grieve for the loss of our child(ren) have in God’s plan been somehow chosen and honored. Have we been selected to enter into the sufferings and grief, to taste a bit of what God the Father endured by watching His own Son suffer and die such a gruesome death? Is there something so beyond our understanding in all of this excruciating pain we have been called to endure?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I believe they are worth pondering from time to time. I will continue to seek; I will continue to knock; I will continue to ask.

Matthew 7: (NIV)

Ask, Seek, Knock

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

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(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at: Xulon PressAmazon, Barnes & Noble and DeeperShopping. Additional international retailers: http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/biography/gifts-from-the-ashes,jude-gibbs-9781498496728 http://www.upliftvstore.com/product.asp?sku=9781498496728   Also, a Contributor on ‘The Mighty’: https://themighty.com/author/jude-gibbs/

Also, see a more complete list at: http://www.directtextbook.com/isbn/9781498496728?geis=y Please help spread the Word. TY! (((HUGS)))

 

 

A Dark Cloud

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I have recently become aware of a dark cloud that is on the horizon. In 1 1/2 years my son will have been gone as long as he was here. I’m not sure why this is causing me some trepidation. The only thing I can relate it to is my Mom’s demise. She died at fifty years old and when I was approaching my Fiftieth birthday, I had a similar feeling. My sister also experienced this. It differed in that my Mom was my example and when I turned fifty, I felt an uncertainty because I no longer had that example to refer to for my life. I recall thinking: ‘So, now what, Mom?’. But it’s different in regards to my son.

I shared this with another Momma and she has heard others share, who have crossed this point, that they felt: “Sadness and heartbreak to be without their child longer than they were with their child.” That doesn’t sound good to  me. All I know is that it is frightening to me. Another hurdle to cross on this journey…a significant one. It deepens the void in some way.

Next month it will be twenty-four years that I have been divorced from my children’s dad whom I was married to for twenty-four years. I am looking forward to that. This situation feels positive…as if I will feel a greater sense of freedom. It’s as if a ‘bond’ of some sort will finally be broken and complete. It’s a positive anticipation. In regards to my son, however, it is not.

If any reader of this article has passed this point, I would appreciate your comments and insight. I don’t want to be without my son longer than he was with me. It’s a void I do not want to embrace. Yet, I fear, I will have to do so.

This is just another example as to why our grief journey never ends. There are always new hurdles to cross over. We watch our children’s friends move on in their lives, marry and have children…things that some of our children who died too young never experienced. Their girlfriend/boyfriend eventually finds someone new and we feel as if our child is being replaced in their lives. We know that this is perfectly normal and even expected, but what we know and how it feels do not line up. I was recalling earlier a memory of running into the mom of the gal my son was in love with and hoped to marry. I had run into her in the local grocery store. She was all excited about the fact that her daughter was getting married. She went on and on about it never mentioning my son. I could not speak. I left my cart of groceries sitting in the aisle and simply walked out of the store. I was dazed. I did not know how to respond. I know in my heart I was happy for her…but.

This dark looming cloud is another ‘unknown’. I have no clue as to how I will feel when I cross this new hurdle. Though I still am 1  1/2 years from crossing this line, an apprehension is already setting in. That can’t be a good sign. But time moves along at a much more rapid pace; seasons are here and gone seemingly before they began. Our perception of time changes dramatically as we age.  1 1/2 years now passes in less than six months. I know I need to take this to the Lord in prayer. I know He will get me through it as He has been faithful to do with everything else on this journey. Still, the consternation is unsettling. I need my perspective changed. Rather than look at how long my son has been gone, I need to turn it around and look at how much closer I am to being reunited with him.

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(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at: Xulon PressAmazon, Barnes & Noble and DeeperShopping. Additional international retailers: http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/biography/gifts-from-the-ashes,jude-gibbs-9781498496728 http://www.upliftvstore.com/product.asp?sku=9781498496728   Also, a Contributor on ‘The Mighty’: https://themighty.com/author/jude-gibbs/

Also, see a more complete list at: http://www.directtextbook.com/isbn/9781498496728?geis=y Please help spread the Word. TY! (((HUGS)))

 

Seasons

I admit that I’m not much of a poet like my son was, but I wrote this in 2011 after I was coming to grips with some things in my life. I shared it with a published poet (Aaron Espy) who liked it very much, so I thought it may speak to others. It was a time in which I was beginning to set new and healthier boundaries. It had been 12 years since my son’s demise.

Seasons

Each has its own

All have things in common

Some bask in the light

Shadows turn others solemn

We embrace the clear skies

Some remain in the rain

I have learned to take cover

I need to stay sane

I love all the seasons

But all embrace times

Of chaotic confusion

Some of which is sublime

They demand of us choices

Of which we decline

Keeping us prisoners

In chains that will bind

When infernal is knocking

I fall to the floor

No longer obliged

To open the door

I have made all my choices

I stand strong on the line

I have learned to embrace

Each season’s time

5/14/11

Seasons by WhiteSpiritWolf on DeviantArt

(Excerpt from ‘Gifts from the Ashes’)

(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at: Xulon PressAmazon, Barnes & Noble and DeeperShopping. Additional international retailers: http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/biography/gifts-from-the-ashes,jude-gibbs-9781498496728 http://www.upliftvstore.com/product.asp?sku=9781498496728   Also, a Contributor on ‘The Mighty’: https://themighty.com/author/jude-gibbs/

Also, see a more complete list at: http://www.directtextbook.com/isbn/9781498496728?geis=y Please help spread the Word. TY! (((HUGS)))

Grief is like a Chameleon

It’s been a rough week. The week began with the discovery that my ceiling in a downstairs bedroom had fallen in. From there, I discovered a section of the wall which was so soggy, just pushing on it left imprints. I had to turn all water off at the main, and had to make numerous calls for help. Two different workmen came out to see the damage and quoted me anywhere from $2500-$4000. I’m disabled; I can’t afford such things.

Then, I finally was able to reach my eldest. He spent two hours on the phone with me instructing me to turn off this, then that, etc. He was able to narrow the leak down somewhat and was able to get me cold water operational for the downstairs…but none upstairs and no hot water. I was very grateful for any water at this point. All of this bending and reaching caused my body to rebel and I was at the point that even the slightest movement was painful. I had to move very slowly holding on to furniture, etc., as I walked.

Yesterday, after my son had arrived and began to tear out walls and run tests…which eventually led to some repairs…I had to use our hand pump to get some water. As I moved a pot of flowers by the pump, a bright orange but pale lizard appeared. He had black spots and sat there glaring at me since I had disturbed his little home. It could have been some sort of Salamander, but I had never seen such a creature before and the way he was looking at me was alarming. He was ticked. Seeing him, however, reminded me of a pet Chameleon I had as a young child. I loved that little guy. One day, however, he escaped and because of the way he could change colors, it was impossible to find him. His ‘color change’ was both a self-preservation attribute, as well as, a detriment. I found him dead a few weeks later on a book rack. He had taken on the color of a book. His camouflage caused his demise.

Chameleons tend to show brighter colors when displaying aggressively to other chameleons, and darker colors when they submit or “give up” (Wikipedia). My little buddy had given up. Some species adjust their colors for camouflage in accordance with the vision of the specific predator by which they are being threatened.

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We who grieve become experts at changing colors. We learn to smile when our heart is breaking; we learn to put on a ‘poker face’ when we are out in public and a ‘trigger’ gets switched. Sometimes, it works for us as self-preservation. We don’t want others to see ‘us’…to see our pain and have someone ask us: “What’s wrong?”. We do it to avoid feeling embarrassed by falling apart in a place not of our choosing. Although, we need never to feel any shame about our grief, we do. Society, for the most part, simply is UN-accepting of our pain. Sometimes, those that do ‘accept’ it will also pity us…and pity is not what we either need or desire. I read an article yesterday in which the so-called experts who have never buried a child have determined that if one is grieving after a specific amount of time per their determination are then considered ‘mentally ill’. They simply lack any understanding of real Grief so they have had to come up with ‘standards’ to make sense of it for their own satisfaction.

Grieving is NOT mental illness. Drugs they prescribe perpetuating their business and promoting their necessity may assist Grievers under certain circumstances, but they do not ‘cure’ grief. What we need most is support. Yes, talking about what we are feeling and experiencing with others who ‘get it’ validates. Talking about all of it with those who do not, and who will simply ‘diagnose’ us and prescribe drugs to suppress it is nothing more than a temporary ‘fix’. We don’t ‘get over’ the tragedy of burying our beloved child. The shame of Grief belongs to a society that is UN-accepting…not to the griever. What we need are more Grievers to become counselors…folks who ‘know it’ and haven’t only read and studied it. A Griever who has lived with it has greater ability to support another Griever.

2 Corinthians 1: (VOICE)

He consoles us as we endure the pain and hardship of life so that we may draw from His comfort and share it with others in their own struggles.

I am forever grateful to a counselor I found who was herself a griever. Her services were offered freely through a funeral home. She helped me understand that all that I was experiencing was ‘normal’. I didn’t need drugs, I was not losing my mind as I feared, I was not ‘mentally ill’. She also happened to be a Christian Believer who shared a verse with me that I laid hold of in my time of desperation: “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning” (Eccl. 7:4a). It gave me Hope. No, it didn’t magically take away the excruciating pain, however it offered me the Hope that something good could come out of all of this hell I was living in. I didn’t have to ‘give up’ as my little chameleon had. I would/will see my son again. While waiting in this temporary holding pattern, there were/are good things I could tap into. I prayed unceasingly for this gem of Wisdom that God says exists in mourning. I wanted this heart to emerge from the shattered pieces of the heart that had been broken beyond repair. James tells us in Ch. 1:5 that if we have need of Wisdom…ask…and it shall be given. Daily, I ask.

Whether I need to fix leaky pipes or need a shoulder to cry on, I have learned to ask for help. It’s humbling, it’s revealing, it may be difficult to stand against a society of shame and predators. But we won’t receive what we need if we don’t ask.

 

(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at: Xulon PressAmazon, Barnes & Noble and DeeperShopping. Additional international retailers: http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/biography/gifts-from-the-ashes,jude-gibbs-9781498496728 http://www.upliftvstore.com/product.asp?sku=9781498496728   Also, a Contributor on ‘The Mighty’: https://themighty.com/author/jude-gibbs/

Also, see a more complete list at: http://www.directtextbook.com/isbn/9781498496728?geis=y Please help spread the Word. TY! (((HUGS)))

 

Dead End

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If you’re like me, most times when you’ve seen a sign that says: ‘Dead End’ you probably have not ventured down the road ahead. There have been a few times, however, when I had to get to a specific destination and knew of no other route, I went forward anyway. I hoped that perhaps there would be some way around whatever obstruction laid ahead, especially if it also said:

Road Closed Sign: Road Closed - Local Traffic Only

Most of the time, however, I wouldn’t take the risk in going forward.

After my son died, I have given up many many times. I would reach a point when I truly believed that there was no sense going forward, that my life here had ended and I might as well simply lay down and die.; I have prayed to die. I became convinced that there was no reason to continue on; I had no more purpose left to exist. It is a point of despair.

Depression and despair, though not mutually exclusive, do differ. Depression will result in a loss of desire to even get out of bed in the morning; it will rob from you most of your desire to speak with others which causes you to isolate and adds to your depression. Despair, however, goes beyond depression. Whereas depression is more of a ‘feeling’, despair is a complete loss of Hope and any expectation; despair is a state of utter hopelessness and complete despondency. It is the belief that we cannot…will not…survive this. It can cause one to be suicidal. It’s the belief…more than a feeling…that there is absolutely no reason to go on. It is a Dead End road with no access, no way around it, no detours available, no turn around. It’s the belief that you are confronted with an insurmountable mountain with no passageway available.

Have you ever thought of the amazing feats and the insuperable circumstances those original Pilgrims faced who ventured to travel out West in their covered wagons filled with everything they owned? They had to have felt completely overwhelmed, at times. There was no ‘free sailing’ when confronted with navigating across the rough terrains and faced with crossing the Rocky Mountains. Passage over the desert land with little to no vegetation and the relentless heat must have seemed unbearable, as if they were in the pit of Hell itself. Many, most likely, gave up and turned back. The task at hand was too merciless and unyielding.

Yet, some kept moving forward.

How is it that some became completely despondent, while others vigorously ventured on? What was the almost magical ‘key’? Many must have felt depression and discouragement. Some completely despaired. Those Pilgrims were human, not some omnipotent super-human beings. The original explorers and fur traders were driven by something that others likely viewed as insanity. They must have had moments of discouragement, yet they would not quit. Even Paul when faced with numerous beatings and imprisonment, hardships that most today in America cannot even comprehend, had occasion to completely despair (1 Cor. 1:8). He said that he and his fellow sojourners ‘had the sentence of death’ within them (vs. 9).

All of these people that kept moving forward had Faith; they trusted; they had Hope in something grander and bigger than themselves. It’s not that they were indifferent to depression nor despair; they had something greater than those feelings and state of mind. Someone once stated to me years ago that: ‘a winner never quits’. In spite of what obstacles and tragedies present themselves along our journey, we who are ‘winners’…conquerors…DO NOT GIVE UP! If we run into a brick wall, we find a way around it. If we cross a passageway that is a dead end road, we look for another. We don’t sit down and throw up our hands and say: “Well, that’s it then”. As the old saying goes: ‘It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings’. We do not presume the outcome while our life is still in progress. We don’t allow our emotions to rule the day because we know that ‘feelings are not always facts’. We have Faith in something greater than ourselves and all tragedies. We Trust there is Someone out there greater than it all. Most importantly, we have Hope that this is all only temporary.

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Romans 8:36-37 (NKJV)

36 As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

This Is Not the End of the Road

(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at: Xulon PressAmazon, Barnes & Noble and DeeperShopping. Additional international retailers: http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/biography/gifts-from-the-ashes,jude-gibbs-9781498496728 http://www.upliftvstore.com/product.asp?sku=9781498496728   Also, a Contributor on ‘The Mighty’: https://themighty.com/author/jude-gibbs/

Also, see a more complete list at: http://www.directtextbook.com/isbn/9781498496728?geis=y Please help spread the Word. TY! (((HUGS)))

 

 

 

 

 

The Paralysis of Analysis

Those who have read my Book: ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ already know of some of the tragedies that occurred in my life in the early 80’s. Over a two-three year period: my adopted son was raped at age twelve by a caretaker; my brother-in-law who was only six when I first met him had driven out to Death Valley at age nineteen and blew his head off with a shotgun; my then husband began to confess a multitude of infidelities which I coined: ‘True Confessions’. These three combined nearly destroyed all Faith I had in God; they had nearly destroyed me. It all had sent me spiraling downward into a very dark pit of despair. Upon going to a counselor for the first time as a result, she gave me a packet with what seemed like endless pages of questions to answer to give her a better understanding in her evaluation of me. After this evaluation was completed, I went to see her for a follow-up appointment. Normally in our visits, she would sit in a chair across from me and we would converse. This appointment was different, however. I sat down on the small two-seated couch as I normally did, but this time she came and sat down next to me. As she began to relay to me the outcome of those answered questions and the conclusive evaluation, her eyes began to tear up. She told me she had been in ‘the business’ for a couple of decades and had many clients who had gone through this same process of filling out all of these papers and answering all the same questions. The conclusion of mine was unique. She informed me that in all her years of practice, she had never had a client that was ‘so far off the charts’ in despair. I had gone far beyond ‘depression’; I had surpassed ‘despair’. The topper was that I thought that all I was feeling, or not feeling, was ‘normal’. This began a long desperate search on my part for answers.

I began to attend eight meetings a week, two on Sunday, in an attempt to reevaluate everything I believed in. Up to this point, I was a stay-at-home Mom raising four little boys; I made up to three hundred calls a day to businesses in order to ‘open the door’ for my husband and make appointments for him to sell his service business; I would also have a brief Bible-study with other gals daily mostly by phone. My ex had been a Pastor of a small non-denominational church and though he had essentially ‘retired’ from that position, there were still many women that I remained in contact with as having been a Pastor’s wife. In addition, I was attending college classes. I drank fourteen cups of coffee daily to keep up with things. I was a ‘good Christian girl’ and believed I was doing the right thing in meeting all these demands.

Of the many meetings I was attending, most were in 12-Step programs or at least affiliated loosely because many members in those not officially so designated were also ’12-steppers’. I had believed before these three tragedies occurred, that if I was a good Christian, bad things would not happen to me and my family. I held on to select  promises in the Scriptures and fully embraced them, completely trusting God based on my understanding of my ‘cherry-picking’ way in which I approached God’s Word. Suddenly, all that had been shaken…down to the very core. Doubts flooded my soul; questions upon questions presented themselves…and I wanted answers. How could such bad things happen to someone like me who had been so ‘good’?

One Sunday, as I was driving home from one of my meetings, it was as if the sky had opened up. I was driving probably 70 MPH on the freeway when I momentarily looked up at the sky and literally saw the clouds parting. It was then that I heard that ‘small still voice’ spoken into my heart. God told me that He had not done these things, but that He was there for me and would get me through them. Suddenly, I was then back behind the wheel driving home on the freeway. I know many today do not believe in visions nor believe that God interacts with us in such a personal and direct manner. But, He does. He is truly the same yesterday, today, and forever. He has sent us forth into this fallen world as His ambassadors. Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, and told us that once the Holy Spirit fell upon us we would do even greater works than those.

I have spent the past seven+ years in the wilderness, literally, for a good part of this time. I have had to work though a number of things with my Lord; I have fought often against the goads. That Sunday is when my questions were answered. That Sunday my foundation which was in shambles began to be rebuilt. I then understood that we live in a very fallen world. I learned that although God is Sovereign, He will not always intervene in man’s lives and choices because to do so would violate the gift of freewill which God gave unto all of us. I learned that although well-intended, my Faith had been based more on my good works than on the Goodness of God.

When my son was killed in ’99, my Faith was now well-established; my foundation could no longer be shaken. It had now been built by God, not me. It stood on a Rock…The Rock. I still struggled with times of anger; trust did become a great issue, but not an insurmountable one. I had learned to listen for that ‘still small voice’. I had learned to not read the scriptures as a textbook in which I was studying for some sort of exam that I needed to pass. I learned that my Faith is rooted in a relationship with my Creator, a very living and powerful God Who is my Saviour, my Lord, my King. I no longer had to succumb to the ‘paralysis of analysis’. I had to learn to tell my soul to ‘be quiet’ as King David did.

None of this dissolves the excruciating pain of my grief nor diminishes the ‘missing’ of my son’s physical presence in this world. What it has done, however, is allow me to grieve with Hope…and that Hope makes all the difference in my grief. I don’t simply ‘believe’ that I will see my son again; I KNOW I will see my son again. He is in God’s Kingdom now, and Jesus made it clear that His Kingdom is not of this world. I thank God it is not. I thank God that I belong to His Kingdom. I thank God that this place is not my Home and that I am only passing through for a season. I will be here for as long as He chooses, and will go Home when it is His time for me to do so.

1 Thessalonians 4: (NIV)

13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.

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(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at: Xulon PressAmazon, Barnes & Noble and DeeperShopping. Additional international retailers: http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/biography/gifts-from-the-ashes,jude-gibbs-9781498496728 http://www.upliftvstore.com/product.asp?sku=9781498496728   Also, a Contributor on ‘The Mighty’: https://themighty.com/author/jude-gibbs/

Also, see a more complete list at: http://www.directtextbook.com/isbn/9781498496728?geis=y Please help spread the Word. TY! (((HUGS)))