Good Grief – Part 1

“Have started hospice for Malorie,” a text from her husband flashed across my screen as I clicked on the new message tab.  It was February 27, 2016 at 9:49 a.m. I was in my bedroom and I stayed in there for a long time, in disbelief. I was afraid to respond to the text and denial quickly set in. Thankfully, my sweet husband took the liberty of booking a flight so I could spend time with her the next weekend.

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Malorie flew to Georgia in 2006 to be with me for the birth of my daughter Kaira. This photo was taken before Malorie went home when Kaira, who was born on her birthday, was just four days old.

Malorie was my dearest and closest friend for almost twenty years. In a recent letter to her I wrote, “I am the mom (woman) I am largely due to your love, prayers and support. When I met you I was a mess, but you loved me, befriended me and taught me and never treated me like the mess I was.” She was the single, most influential person in my life. How do you say good-bye? Well, I still do not know, but I am learning.

When I arrived at the hospice facility on Friday and Malorie heard I was there her eyes popped open and she looked around for me until her beautiful eyes settled on my familiar face.  I will never forget that.

Sunday morning I got time alone with her and I used that time to remind her of all she had taught me, to use her very words to bring comfort. I reminded her of all she taught me about our Father and how it had changed my life. It was a precious time. She was reciting scripture, finishing my sentences and still believing in her good, good Father. Grief did not set in because her faith was still contagious.

A month and a half after that text came my children and I sat in a church for Malorie’s memorial service.  I had to be there, they had to be there, to hear about this woman who had affected my life and in turn affected theirs, forever!  Everyone said the same things:

  • You did not meet Malorie you “encountered” her
  • We had lively discussions about scripture
  • She treated others the way she wanted to be treated
  • She made you feel like her best friend
  • She was a pioneer
  • We got lost while driving to (fill in the blank)

We flew home on Mother’s Day, which was usually a day I talked with Malorie and she always honored me as a mom although a mom much longer herself.  We did not talk this Mother’s Day.  Monday the grief set in. I would not see or speak to my friend again in this life.  

I was given a book Recovering from the Losses of Life by H. Norman Wright and as I began to read a lifetime of grief stored up in me began to surface. Losing my friend was going to be a catalyst for a journey I needed to take. The Lord nudging and encouraging me to embark on this journey of grieving. The journey of releasing all to Him to receive all He has for me.  The journey of believing in my good, good Father just as Malorie had modeled.  Believing that although sorrow may last for a night, joy comes in the morning. Believing that grieving is good and necessary for growth. Believing that through grief, although sad and painful I will more fully see and experience the good. Believing that the seeds Malorie planted are being watered by the Father to bear good fruit.

What losses are you grieving or denying? Ask your Father to show you areas where you need to grieve and areas where you have grieved and can now receive the blessing and joy from the completed process. Invite Him into your grief, for He alone can bring the peace that surpasses understanding.

Father, your Son taught us that, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” We thank you for the comfort and assurance. You are our God and Father of mercies who comforts us in our afflictions so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any afflictions, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. Thank you for your promise that sorrow may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Amen.

Join me here for Good Grief–Part 2 on June 9, 2016

 

We Were Made For Friendships

Family Photo copyIt didn’t make sense. It was 11:00 at night. My husband had just gone to bed, and I was shutting down the computer to follow him when a simple picture of friends swept across the screen and loneliness swept through my heart. I turned out the lights and sat in the darkness.

It wasn’t that my friends weren’t there or didn’t care. It was that I was in an emotionally exhausting season and was too overwhelmed to connect like usual. I was struggling on my own, and I felt isolated. I needed the encouraging words of a friend to shed light and remind me that I was not alone.

Maybe it isn’t a picture in the midst of a too full plate that makes you lonely or hurt. Maybe it’s:

  • The cold stares from those moms who think your son is too wild in the church nursery.
  • That all your friends on Facebook have husbands who post praises to their wives and pictures of romantic dinners while yours falls asleep in the chair and you cry alone in bed.
  • That you feel like a terrible mom because you love your kids so much and yet you don’t like them because they’re rude and disrespectful and you’re sure no one else feels that way.

Whatever makes your heart heavy, I want to be that friend whispering into your darkness that you are wonderful and capable and accepted and loved. And that I understand your fears and your doubts because I have them too.

We were not made to go solo. We were made for community.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NLT) says, Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

Here we see that friendship provides greater success, help in need, warmth, strength, and wholeness. I want this and I want it for you.

It’s why I write here. For those of you who only know me by my blog photo, you matter to me. I want you to know that on the other side of your screen, I am here cheering you on. My heart breaks when you feel broken, and it celebrates when you feel joy. Every word I type is my effort to take your hand and say:

“We” is better than me!

And sometimes I need you to take mine because it can be lonely on this side too. The enemy often convinces me that what I do doesn’t matter. That my words are meaningless noise in an already too-busy place. But my writing is not for me. It’s for you. I share my stories and my thoughts to encourage and hopefully inspire you. So I will keep writing when I’m too tired or too busy because maybe it does.

Putting my heart on display for public scrutiny is not easy. With each post, I risk rejection and criticism. But friendship comes with a risk–there can’t be intimacy without vulnerability–and you are worth that. And I know that as we learn to share our broken pieces, we can fit them together to form something beautifully whole.

So, can I ask you to link arms with me in friendship? In a world where people are isolated and alone, will you remember that you don’t have to be? I hope so, and I hope you’ll leave me a message to tell me so.