Uprooted in Grief and Fear

I feel the vice grip of fear entangle me this morning as I contemplate writing a blog post, talking myself out of such an endeavor, that God really didn’t nudge me at all.  Justifying my disobedience with the fact I am still horribly grieving most days, and He wouldn’t ask such a thing of me while I am still entirely too down and out.

I am writing after all, so what is the difference whether I keep it private, or post it anyway?  Just a matter of logistics, and maybe a few dedicated followers who actually read my ramblings. Not a big deal.  Or is it?

That, and was I perhaps playing the “victim” card I verbally speak against on almost a daily basis?

“I am not a victim.”

“I am not a victim.”

“I am not a victim.”

The exhilaration of His guidance at the possibility of blogging again had me leaping at His quick response to an inward request for clarity on the inaudible whisper I was certain was from Him in the first place.

I guess I am afraid.

I see a sign post today, laying flat on its back from the storm.  I ponder its uprooting.

I mean really, Harvey has hardly made an impact here, so the fact that it is a casualty, hasn’t weathered the storm at all and is down for the count, has me feeling like if it were a person, she would be playing the victim card herself.

She is too tired to hold up any longer. Too emotional to weather the pain.

“Let someone else alert others of the approaching curve ahead,” she would say if she weren’t an it.

Instead she lay there broken.

It is time to write publicly again. I say this with a bit of trepidation in my fingers as I type the commitment.

Yesterday, as I read a book’s introduction, the author quotes C.S. Lewis on fear and grief:

“No one told me that grief felt so much like fear.”

Yes, I’ve stayed away from this outlet more out of fear than anything else.  Fear of what?  Fear of a subtle shift of writing “to” instead of writing “from”.

It is a slight deviation that keeps me on the shallow end instead of the depths. Wondering if people will read what I write and feel compelled to rescue me from myself.  I get it.  As I read through the first entries of this writing journey post Bill, I see me too near the ledge, feet teetering too close to the edge, close to jumping out of this life, into the after life.

But, I am still standing here today.

Actually I have made it 111 consecutive days of writing, meeting God at the kitchen table with Bible in hand each morning.

Yet I know my writing is beyond my own healing. It is meant for God to be known, especially so in the midst of this inescapable darkness.

I have many moments that blow my mind away of how God is moving in the midst on my behalf.

But, I don’t want to get ahead of myself here.

So, to keep me from compromising, I’ve decided to continue on today privately, but begin to post from former days and move forward from there.

They are choppy at first. Raw.  Difficult. Unedited.

My hope is you glean a glimpse of His Glory in the midst of such darkness.

 

Today I leave you with the initial entry from May 8th:

Sitting outside staring at the last of the blooms from the tree that was planted in honor of the man who died of cancer. No, not my husband, but the former occupant of this residence.

We just made it back today after a whirlwind of memorials in two states, and in exhaustion hit the bed as I stared at a pic of the two of us, and cried myself to a deep sleep.

I feel this thought creep up–would this not have happened had we not moved into this home? I mean, really, the eeriness of the similarities has me wonder. They moved here. He got sick. Died. We moved here. He got sick. Died. What if when it happened, we just moved? Would chemo have worked at that point?

I know.  Josie don’t go there. You are not superstitious. I know.

I’m just heartbroken.

 

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The Unspoken Rules of Disengagement

I saw an excellent movie the other night, titled, ‘A Monster Calls’.  I read this eclectic book of illustrations, intermixed with words, in under 48 hours.  Very few times does a movie’s quality compete with the writing, but this was an exception to the rule.

Basically, without a spoiler alert, it is a story of a boy and a monster and a mother with cancer. Amongst the dialog, wise words were spoken from mom to son about life.  One particular statement by the mom stood above all other words expressed, “life is always in the eyes.”

Yes, and even more so, may I suggest that there is more than just life tied to the eyes, and  that true, authentic connection occurs in this inaudible display of this particular sense?

I first learned of my avoidance of intimate connection at a Proverbs 31 Conference, in which I paid an exorbitant amount of money to receive instruction on my speaking abilities.  Overall, I did well.  My mentor gave me excellent marks on performance, appearance, voice inflection and such, but, she said that I diverted engagement with the audience by looking up when the topic transitioned at a pivotal point–the point when I entered the emotional portion of my message.

By doing so, I kept my composure.

But, by doing so, I disengaged my feelings.

Since Bill’s illness, I am acutely aware of my need to avoid.  Sometimes I divert engagement by switching to topics less intrusive, to keep the conversation on the surface, so the emotions stay safely under control.

Ot, I avoid community all together in favor of staying close to home.

I’ve noticed disengagement with others also.

A quick glance and smile my way, both while in mid stride, but no locked-in gaze to stop and initiate conversation.  I call it the ‘walk by’.  Similar to a drive-by, but without threat of personal injury.

Or, let’s say we are in a conversation, and I sense the atmosphere feels too close for comfort.  But instead taking heed to the internal warning, I start to share my hurt, and in doing so, the conversation takes a quick turn just out of the intimacy range.  Usually it is the cousin of a friend’s next door neighbor, who moved away three years ago to another country, who happened to have a vaguely similar struggle–oh wait, that was the Hallmark movie she now recalls from 2002.

She says, “Yes, the actress was going through the same thing, and I cried throughout the entire movie.”

Or, glib answers to fill in life’s hard terrain:

“It will be ok.”

“He will be okay.”

“You just need to have faith.”

The problem with pat dialog is it is devoid of intimacy.

I get it.  Sometimes closeness is like wearing wool on a warm day, in South Texas.  Intensely uncomfortable.

Still, how do we break through the disengagement ceiling, and be fully engaged? Even when intensely uncomfortable?

Maybe a hug.

A prayer.

Words like, “I’m sorry you are going through this.”

Or, “I don’t know what to say.”

Perhaps, “I’m here if you need a shoulder to snot on.”

Sometimes the hardest thing in the world is to acknowledge and address pain.

Today, as I walked into the coffee shop, I had two doors from which to choose, both with tables nearby occupied by people that I happened to know personally.  Both, I knew would involve conversation, which may not be good because my emotional wellbeing was near breaking point.

But, I moved forward on the one I knew was the more dangerous of the two.  The one which was likely to not allow me to disengage.

In doing so, I received eye contact.  Hugs. Words of comfort.  Encouragement. Even when I felt the need to exit, they continued to engage.

It was this depth of engagement that bypassed eye contact, and penetrated my hurting heart– with love.

To you, you know who you are, thank you for engaging me today.

 

She Leaned In

I sat in the chair after dismissal, and fidgeted with my belongings in an attempt to appear distracted from the person who sat one seat away from the empty one beside me.

Slowly, I placed each item into my bag, methodically, until I was left without an excuse in hand. At this, she did what I hoped she would not–she moved in to the empty chair next to me.

Placing a hand on my back, she entered my closed off space as she leaned closer.

My insides screamed, “Please keep your distance.”

Yet, another other part of me wanted, or more like needed, to allow her to take some of the burden of my heartbreak I could no longer handle by myself.

She asked a simple question on how I was doing, even though I am certain she knew the answer even before I spoke.

With no energy to put on my, “I’m fine” game face, I told the truth.

I was not at all good.

Tears emerged unrequested.

She shared a handful of words with me in that moment.

I cannot give you a play-by-play of what was actually said, but I can tell you what was felt–

Relief.

Temporary reassurance knowing I was not alone in my pain.  

Such a simple gesture on her part.

To lean into a person’s brokenness, and offer herself.

No big answers to life’s questions.

Just sweet, gentle assurance I was not alone in my pain.

I believe she was heaven sent that day, to sit beside me and minister comfort from Christ Himself through her compassionate heart.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

You Think I’ve Got Potential?

She was edgy and somewhat dangerous; one of those sketchy individuals we are better off steering clear.

Dangerous like Kit DeLuca, the sidekick of Vivian. The spunky girl with the feisty mouth and shady profession.

If you are going, “huh?” right now, I am referring to the characters in the movie, ‘Pretty Woman’. To refresh your memory, it is the happily-ever-after story starring Julia Roberts, who is a prostitute named Vivian, who turns into a princess of sorts by the end of the movie.

Kit was not at all like Vivian. You see, Vivian seemed ill-equipped for such a scandalous profession, yet Kit seemed unaffected by her destructive lifestyle.

Or, so one would think. Maybe she had believed she had so little to offer, that she began to believe there was no other option for such a messed-up person as she.

But, Vivian didn’t think so. She saw something special in Kit, and believed in her until the very end…well, the end of the movie.

The final scene before Vivian is rescued by Edward Lewis, AKA, Richard Gere, has Vivian and Kit saying their goodbyes in the apartment they shared:

Vivian: We believe in you Kit Deluca.

Kit: Whoa. Whoa. What is this?

Vivian: It’s part of the Edward Lewis scholarship fund.

Vivian: We think you got a lot of potential, Kit De Luca.

Kit: You do? You think I got potential?

Vivian: Oh, yeah. Don’t let anybody tell you different, okay?

Vivian believed in her friend, so much so, that she gave most of the money she earned from her week-long trick, to her troublesome roommate.

She saw potential, while others only saw trouble.

I love to see the potential in people.

Like discovering a diamond in the rough; seeing the facets that have yet to glisten.

Jesus sees potential, while others only saw trouble.

Jesus saw potential in some risky individuals–sketchy, shady, destitute characters He chose to fully invest. Actually, investing in high-risk individuals seemed to be a norm for HIM.

What if we took His cue and fully invested into the lives of some risky individuals?

Without weighing the risks.

Without receiving anything in return.

Would we do it?

I’ve had the privilege to invest in some risky characters. One in particular comes to mind:

Josie: I see tremendous potential in you.

Josie: It is worth the multiple texts, phone calls, talks over coffee. All the exhaustive hours poured into you have been worth every minute to see you smile with your head held high.

Josie: I believe in you.

Josie: Don’t let anybody tell you any different, okay?

In the end, we see a twinkle in Kit’s eye as she shares her dream of attending beauty school with her potential new roommate.

A dream she was allowed to dream because someone fully believed in her.

I see a precious diamond begin to form before my eyes. I watch as she pours her heart into the lives of those around her.  

Fully invested in their welfare.

I see the flawless facets of her character begin to surface:

She is humorous, caring, hardworking, trustworthy–a gem of a friend.  

Who is your Kit DeLuca?

Angel in the Restroom

It is rumored, from those who have experienced the presence of an angel and lived to talk about it, that a specific trait among them was characteristic of their divine presence–no, not that being large, white wings.

It is said angels have strikingly-blue eyes.

Since I am quite certain there is no definitive evidence to prove this theory, I think this rumor will only be made as fact upon our entrance to Heaven.

Even so, I agree with this hypothesis.

This is why…

Each week, I believe I have been in the presence of one, and am here to talk about it.

Since I am not one to wait in line for an open stall before church service, I tend to wait until the midst of worship, usually during a song I am not particularly fond (No, not very spiritual), and take the opportunity to visit the restroom.

It is during this time, I happen upon a lady, dressed in a blue uniform shirt and khaki pants, working behind the scenes.

I am certain you would agree that this is one of the least pleasurable chores out there, even in the confines of a home.  So, think about having to clean up after hundreds of people each and every week.

No thank you.

But, this person is quite amazing.

Whether she is empties trash cans, picks up debris off the ground, wipes down sinks, cleans mirrors–no matter the chore, she has a characteristic that is angelic:

It is this amazing smile that accompanies her service.  

Always.

If she is having a bad day, I would never know it.

She is a true example of a servant.

It is said in Hebrews 13:2:

Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!

In gratitude for her dedication, I attempt to show this stranger, in the restroom, the most hospitable appreciation in response for her incredible service.

Oh, I forgot to mention…

She has the most amazing eyes–which happen to be a striking hue of blue!

It’s Not Over Until It’s Over

I heard a rumor not too long ago that he loved Jesus.

To say I was shocked was an understatement.

This was in no way the man knew—or should I say, boy. The union was brief for this teenage couple– he a mere nineteen, and I, a sweet sixteen.

No surprise there.

But, imagine my shock to hear that, not only did he develop a love for Jesus, he had a determination to share this love with anyone and everyone ALL THE TIME!

His mom supplied the gaps of our lives apart with details of his intimate relationship with his Savior.  The one that stood out the most was his remarkable transformation.

I heard this love affair began on a day he was on the verge of giving up on life entirely.

It was said he cried out to God in desperation, and in a bold declaration, declared if HE helped him through this time of turmoil, he would dedicate his life completely to HIM.

Well, no surprise here…

God helps desperate people who cry out to HIM in the midst of desperation.

I heard he kept his end of the bargain, and lived his life with Jesus in the forefront of his everyday.

All the way to the end.

His life ended one winter day in March. Fourteen years ago.

He would have turned fifty today.

Is there someone in your life who seems too lost for rescue?

Don’t give up on this lost soul.

You never know how their story ends until the end.