Friday, 28 March 2014

FTF: Grief Covered In Grace (Part Three)

A short re-cap from the last 'Grief Covered In Grace Post' ...

To people looking on the outside, I appeared as normal. I was happy, fun, encouraging, loving; but on the inside I felt near dead. It's so much easier to put on a face, then it is to let down your guard and confess the truth to others of what's really going on inside.

So, what was the truth? 

I was lost. I was grieving. I was in denial. I was hit for a six when the most beautiful, purposeful stage of my life to date, came to an extremely fast end. Like a blur. I would talk to my close friends about this, and they would comfort me but not really knowing how to all the same. The loss grew and the grief just would not leave.

I had countless amounts of arguments with my husband telling him his choice was wrong. Telling (OK, screaming at) him that he'd not thought it through enough (this is far from the truth with any huge decision my husband makes). My grief, becoming sin, was eating me alive and I was destroying everyone in my family along with me.

I found that to a point I even held my children at a distance. I would 'count my blessings', then want more blessings, and then the pain would start all over again. I've lost count of how many times I cried myself to sleep. Lost count of how many times I just thought it easier to give up and stay in bed all day.

What made it hard to move forward was not knowing 'where' to head; what direction to go? I had not studied, not worked really anywhere that I knew I would enjoy returning to. I just felt lost, alone and like I was treading water. I knew that God was faithful, that He'd not left me, but I just couldn't move forward. I didn't want to. I wanted my comfort zone back.

And that, was my first lesson. I was looking at what I wanted. What about what was best for my husband? My children? I thought I was thinking about them and their needs, but I was convincing myself that it would 'surely be good' for them too? Steve is the one to provide the finances, how much more pressure would it be for him? Can I put that pressure on him? Can I have less time with our relationship, when we are already not getting enough now? Could I really split myself between six children and still have all their needs met well? The answers to these questions, for me, is 'no'.

It's been said, and is well known, that motherhood teaches you what you're made of. This period of grief in motherhood has taught me so many lessons that I don't think I could have learnt as well through another means. I have learnt to trust that my husband really does consider my best interests; he does value my opinions, thoughts and concerns; that he really loves his children and wants to give them his best, but that he will still always take matters to God in prayer and then decide, even if that means I hear 'no'.

I have learnt that God really is my everything. He is my stability, my source of comfort and understanding. I now know why I could not really have the full understanding of others throughout this whole process, why I felt so alone through it all; it's because I needed to be healed by God and God alone. 

This was His lesson for me. I know me, and if I had have had even one person who fully or even slightly understood my grief, then I would have been less inclined or not as diligent in seeking the face of God. He is my everything. I began intensely seeking His face and searching for truth to cling to. Some hope. Some assurance that the next 'un-known' stage of my life was going to be just as beautiful, maybe even more, as the one that came to an end.

He gave me the most amazing assurance and hope from His Word.
Isaiah 48:17  This is what the Lord says - your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: " I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go".

Isaiah 41:10  So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 42:9   See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.

Isaiah 26:3   You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you (NLT)

Isaiah 44:8   DO not tremble; do not be afraid, Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago? You are my witnesses - is there any other God? No! There is no other Rock - not One!

Isaiah 46:3   "Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob, all the remnant of the people of Israel, you whom I have upheld since your birth, and have carried since you were born. Even to your old age and grey hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. (There is also Isaiah 55:8-12)

I have no idea why all of these verses are from Isaiah. For a time of about 6 months or more it was like the book of Isaiah was the only book in the Bible! Almost every message from our Pastor, or guest speakers, devotional books, Bible studies etc., even when I went to Hillsong Conference, the speakers were speaking from Isaiah! Maybe one day I'll understand the significance of 'Isaiah', maybe I won't. But, I knew then (and still now) it was God comforting me and speaking words of truth and life into my heart and mind, when I just couldn't do that for myself.

I've learnt that when I am weakest, He truly is strong. His grace is all-sufficient. There is no way in my own capabilities that I would have been able to get myself back on the right path. In fact, I tried so hard to do it on my own. And it did more damage than good. It made me bitter, angry, distant, unforgiving, selfish, cruel, self-righteous and self-justifying, and very hard to be around at times. I knew I couldn't drag myself out, only get myself further into the pit that was my reality.

During the times when I just couldn't put the words together into substantial prayers, I began praying  what I now affectionately call 'one-liners'. Prayers like, "Please don't leave me where I'm at" "Help me to trust you more" "Please forgive my bitter anger" "Help me to see Steve's heart" "Please show me the next step". This was another beautiful lesson for me - that God doesn't require long prayers to go to work in our lives. He saw my heart. He saw that I knew I couldn't stay in this damaging place, nor could my husband and children. He knew I was crying out for His help because I couldn't do it alone; and He was so incredibly faithful.

He brought me to the end of myself, to the point where I really had to stand in faith and know that He had me, he held me, he was not going to let me go. Just the other week as I was driving the long stretch of country road back home, I was pondering on how I feel like I am exiting a very long, narrow tunnel. I had just driven out of the end of it. It was so vivid. 

Things were clearer. I saw that I had to make some decisions about the future. Would I study now?  Would I just find part time work in a fast food restaurant? Would I become a famous author? (Okay, that was a definite daydream ... I still have to finish my writing course ;) ) There are some new possibilities that I can look at, while still being a wife and mother to four kids! He's helping me to see the beauty of the stage to come.

To be continued ...

Monday, 24 March 2014

What We All Need More Of

Counterfeit satisfaction. This world offers us so much of it. It's always in our face what this world guarantees are the things that are going to bring us happiness and fulfillment; purpose and passion.

We can become so easily caught up in the thinking of this world that we forget what it is that actually does brings such incredible satisfaction to the depths of our souls. On what do you spend your time? On what do I spend my time? It's true that we can always find time and make time for the things that we love. It's true that we can become so inward focused on our plans, our schedules, our next steps that we don't leave much room in our minds for anything else.

We all know that satan is the enemy of our souls. That he wants to steal, kill and destroy. But he's sneaky. He also persistently distracts. Distracts our minds. We so often wake in the morning, go straight to our 'to do' list and start ticking things off. We go about the course of the day, hurrying, achieving, with our thoughts focused on our agendas. What do we do at night after a day of housework, or work, or study?

How do we spend our time? We spend all day in motion, then all night, vegging out, trying to find rest and rejuvenation. But there's one thing that we need more of in this distraction-filled, goal-driven, self-focused world. 

We need more of God's Word.

Lately in my life, I've been struck by just how much I can't find any peace in my soul without frequent time in His Word. My hobbies are good, my circle of friends are wonderful, my family is amazing, our church is great; but all these things are still not the life giving words of God that speak right to my heart for the situations that I go through in life. Situations that need correcting, leading, guiding, confirmation and encouragement.

How on earth do we think that we can get through living in this world trying to be His witnesses without His words that speak life embedded into the fabric of who we are? Without His words that bring truth to our hearts and minds, that drown out the negative, wrong, filth of this sin-drenched world? 
We simply can't. I know for sure I can't.

We must choose to be christian women who cling to His truth, who spend time reading His Word and listening for His answers to us. 

The Word needs to be coursing in our veins; seeping out of us to all we meet; anchoring our souls with unfailing hope; filling our hearts with overwhelming peace and joy; filtering our minds with the never-changing truth of Gods ways, and the beacon that illuminates our every step.

Counterfeit satisfaction is a cheap substitute for the real thing.

Beautiful readers, enjoy His Word in your life this week, and every week after that! I know I'm going to make every effort to! 

(Linking up with Christian Mommy Blogger - Fellowship Fridays)

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