A Memorial to the Lord
Four months ago my best friend went home to be with the Lord. Only four months ago, but it honestly feels like she’s been gone for years. I miss her smile. I miss her laughter. I miss her advice. I miss her encouragement. I miss her presence. Oh, Lord, I just really miss her.
It’s been four months of maneuvering this road called grief. Some days I do okay. Other days I’m a wreck. I told my husband months ago that we need to see 2018 as my year of grieving. But there are days that I’m tired of the hurt, the uncontrollable emotions. Years ago I trusted God for healing from my depression. I asked Him to show me how to overcome it with His help. And He did. When I asked Him to show me how to get through this grief, He simply assumed me He is with me. He told me it was okay to keep feeling these emotions, that I just needed to lay them down at His feet. But I didn’t. I held on to them tighter, like I was afraid to let them go. Maybe thinking if I did let them go, I’d be letting go of my best friend.
A few weeks after Tammy passed, I went to the beach with my kids. It was bittersweet because I hoped I would be able to take her one more time because she loved the beach. We even joked about how she could leave her wig at home and we could take my husband’s convertible.
So there I was on Easter, walking on the beach, when a verse came to me.
“So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen—one from each of the tribes of Israel. He told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future, your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.” ~ Joshua 4:4-7
That’s when the idea stirred in my heart to build a memorial of praise to the Lord. To gather rocks from the beach that represented events in my life and the lives of Tammy’s family that we would have celebrated. Then I would have them as a visual of God’s goodness. I collected two rocks that day—one for her son turning eighteen and one for a publisher asking for my manuscript. I placed them next to my “Stand and FIGHT” sign a friend made me. The pile has continued to grow through the months. One for her oldest’s amazing performance at State finals and another for his graduation. Two for our kids’ graduating from eighth grade. One for the book contract offered me and one for finishing my next novel. I was collecting them, but instead of praising God for the things He had done, I was still crying over what she was missing and how I was missing her.
In June, a student of mine made this awesome verse picture of Matthew 28:20. I placed it right behind the rocks. Another reminder He was with me. But I felt no comfort because instead of laying down my emotions to the Lord, I clung to them.
I hit my darkest, deepest grief two weeks ago. My husband tried to comfort me. He said all the right things. He told me to FIGHT…but I didn’t. I cried. I screamed. I believed the lies. I chose the darkness. It was, horrific.
The next morning I asked God why He let me get so low. James 4:6-7 came to me.
“So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you.”
I held on to my grief instead of turning it over to God. I didn’t resist the devil so he continued to torment me. I refused to draw close to God. I’m sure that broke His heart.
I repented that morning and asked the Lord to help me to not dwell on my grief. It’s going to continue, as it has this week, but I don’t need to camp there. I don’t need to wallow in it. I need to cry, pray, reach out to others for prayer, worship God, and keep moving. Rage may come. Depression may show it’s ugly face, but God is for me so who can stand against me? I don’t need to be anxious about what’s to come, because God’s already there.
The last two stones I’ve added? Finishing my first school year without her and delivering my first message since her death. When I taught last Thursday I knew she would have been in the third row to support me. Instead of crying that she wasn’t, I smiled at my friends who were. Now when I see these stones, I thank the Lord for what He has brought me through. I thank Him for His goodness and blessings. It’s a reminder that His blessings haven’t stopped. They will continue to a thousand generations as long as I choose to put Him first. As long as I continue to be obedient.
I still miss her every day. I still cry often and feel the weight of her loss so great at times it’s hard to breathe. But God has been with me and will continue to be. And one day, I’ll see her again. And we will celebrate God’s goodness by praising Him together, face-to-face. What an amazing day that will be.