Wednesday, January 11, 2017

When the journey is hard


Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
Lamentations 3:22


I haven't blogged in a long time. Sure I have several mostly written as drafts, but I just have not been able to post them. I felt conflicted. How do I continue on a blog about the journey of life and yet not address what was shattering and altering. But I couldn’t put it into words. I’m not an eloquent writer like some. I’d much rather sit down over a cup of coffee and talk it out in person. But many months ago I started to write drafts about it, read articles about it – this thing called grief. This fog called brokenness.

It’s hard to explain what it is like. If you’ve lost loved ones through death or broken relationship you know what I mean. It’s hurt- not in a shallow way or an over exaggerating way, but gut wrenching, knee bending, tear inducing tough. It’s nights awake, tears that come unbidden at moments when a memory is triggered, or internal conversations in my head about how to make things better.

The summer of 2015 we suffered losses and hurts. The most obvious and cruellest was on July 12, 2015, when we lost my brother in law Colin and my baby niece Madeline in a car accident. My sister in law and two nephews were injured, but survived. I re-live that day often in my head. The kids and I were in Canada already, and thankfully had spent two days with them just the week before. They were headed down to be with the whole McIver family for a few days. They never made it. I re-live in my head hearing the news while in church and being pulled out. I re-live phoning Paul (who was still in Niger for 6 more days) and the gut-wrenching feelings of working to get him home a few days earlier than planned. I re-live being in the hospital room when the boys were told their Daddy was gone to heaven, I re-live being in the room when she got the call that Madeline would not live. So many hours I play these memories back and weep. I can’t forget them.

We are close to Colin and Leanne. I say are. I can’t speak about Colin and Madeline in the past tense yet. And Leanne and the boys are precious and vibrant and beloved. So many beautiful memories, so much laughter, plans we had made for vacations together, etc. I’ve known Colin since High School when we played basketball together.  I have regrets for all the things we planned to do together but never can, and regrets for all the things they should be able to do with their lives, but never will. Thankfully no regrets on the state of our relationship as nothing was left unsaid, broken or unloved. Love was known and it was good. Thank you Jesus for that.

But the hole is real. In our hearts and I can only imagine the size of the hole in Leanne’s and the boys hearts as we walk this journey with them. I’ll be real, at times I’ve been in that stinky, yet honest, spot where no amount of good platitudes are received well at all. It’s just a horrible thing to have happen. I didn’t want to hear a Christian “thought for the day” about how it’s for the best, how one day we will see the “reason” for it etc., even though I fully know it is delivered in love by people who care. We live in a World of SIN. Bad things happen. There was nothing that their family did to “deserve” this. That’s just ludicrous. I believe this is heartbreaking and God carries us through this, carries us as His beloved to get us through this time, equally heartbroken at the consequences of this World.

It’s been hard being overseas and not directly with our family while we wade through brokeness, this grief. I wonder if they are “getting used to” a physical absence in their house that will still take my breathe away. Not that you can get used to something like that, but that after a year and more in the same space, do they no longer expect at any moment that Colin and Madeleine will come in. Maybe I’m crazy for thinking that. Do they expect them to walk in at any moment? Show up for holidays? Hear their voices turn their heads with anticipation of seeing them? I know life has to go on with new patterns, new schedules, new joy.

But these losses have produced such a season of leaning into God, tearing up at my inability to “fix” things, waiting on His intervention and what might seem like miracles at times. Lost relationship and death of a loved one is the single biggest wound to my heart, me,who is 100% relationally oriented and driven. I can’t make heads or tails of those losses and hurts and they are staggering.

But here is what I have learned this past 18+ months. I’m keeping myself focused on what I know to be true. God is present and He is precious and loving to me.  I’m not allowing myself to get side-tracked by blaming the author of my story. Grief and brokenness is making me a stronger, more self-aware, more God centered (and aware of my need for God) than I was before. And I pray that journey would continue every day in growing and being shaped by our Creator and less of this World and sinful human nature and stink of being broken. It’s shown me the end of my own limits, places where I cannot go, relationships I cannot fix, and times I need to release people/situations to Him who can handle them. I am both more vulnerable and desiring to delve deep into relationship than ever before with people who value our relationship. Don’t waste those moments we are afforded on this earth.

I loved what an article said about grief (seems I read a lot about grief, loss, forgiveness and reconciliation these days). “Navigating through disappointment, betrayal, loss, death, sin, failure, and trials involves heartache. It’s scary and messy. It requires us to feel our way through the sense of loss produced by suffering. The danger in running from it, however, is that it can actually hinder us in our relationship with God, others, and ourselves. In order to truly heal the broken places suffering has touched we must face it. We can't gloss over it, ignore it, and hope it heals itself. It won't. It is work that you have to do."

I’m not sure where you are today but if you’re in the midst of a hard journey, read and believe this;
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
Isaiah 43:2


Through the pain of that summer season I pray that God continues to work miracles. To draw me, and my loved ones, closer to Him. He is the healer.


In loving memory