It has been six months since Mike passed away. I much prefer to think of it as when Mike “went to Heaven” or “went Home”. But that might sound really odd to some people. To me, saying someone passed away sounds like they are gone forever. And I don’t believe that Mike is gone forever. At all. He is gone from my sight and all my senses but he is very much still alive in my heart in addition to being in Heaven. When someone fills you up with that much love, it just doesn’t go away.
Anyway, today marks six months. The odd thing is that I just don’t know how I feel about that. And I don’t want to dwell on it. So grief is having it’s way with me even when the emotions are not at the surface. I received a very short and kind email this morning from my son-in-law. He wanted me to know that he thinking of me and praying for me today – on this special day. He remembered. And from that message came this response back to him as well as to my girls:
“These verses have been on my heart this week – God’s promises:
‘to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor’. Isaiah 61:2-4
The word for me this week has been “ashes”. The symbol of grief in the Bible. Worn on the head, they covered the body – ashes don’t usually stay where you put them…they float here and there and leave their mark on everything they touch. Like grief, ashes are born of fire – of trials. They are colorless; lifeless. Ashes bear little or no resemblance to the form of the thing they were before the fire. And grief feels like that.
But the good news is that we have a God who does not leave us in the ashes. As part of His “rescue” plan, He takes our grief and gives us a crown of beauty, pours joy on us, clothes us with praise, and make us strong – all to His glory. He is doing His work in us all; minute by minute so long as we are authentic in our grief and yield it to Him again and again; and are able to share our feelings and thoughts with Him and with others.
Today, as every day, I choose to look to Him in the hope that He gives us; knowing that this grief is not going to be with me forever and so I will let Him do His healing work in me. And this is why I can look forward – to tomorrow in hope, even while today I may look back with sadness.”
So while I continue to live in the state of “is this really my life now?” I have to bring it back to “for this minute, the answer is Yes”. And so that is how it goes. Minute by minute. And then day by day. And then month by month. And then before I know it, I look back and say, “has it really been six months?” And then I realize that yes, God has been at work. The ashes are fewer – sometimes hard to see – but on days like today I know it to be true. I see the beauty of spring through new eyes and feel just a tiny bit stronger. And thank God, there is hope.
I know I have posted this song before, but it is one of my favorites and is another reminder that brighter days are ahead.
“There will be a Day” by Jeremy Camp.