Eight months ago my world was turned upside down. Even though my best friend was on hospice and God taking her home relieved her suffering, my world was still turned upside down. That’s what happens when you lose someone you love.
I think about her daily. Often times it’s with thankfulness in my heart. I’m thankful for the many Bible studies we did together. I’m thankful for all the meals we shared. I’m thankful that we homeschool our kids together. And I’m thankful that she was beside me to walk through life’s up and downs for twelve years.
But now she’s gone and in this, the eighth month of learning how to get by without her, I’m discovering some new truths about grief, faith, and life in general. One that I learned a few months ago is that emotions aren’t bad, it’s how you deal with them that matters. I have a cracked flat iron to remind me of the day I allowed rage to take over. I wasn’t myself, and I knew it, but in that moment I couldn’t control it. A few months later when I shared with a therapist what was going on in my life, and in my heart, he said something that made me pause.
“I wonder if you even realize how angry you are.”
I knew I was but I didn’t know how to deal with it. I didn’t think it was right to be mad at God. And I didn’t want to be mad at him. There’s this amazingly confusing conflict within my soul that I could be so incredibly joyful that my best friend is in the arms of Jesus, and yet I feel so much pain at the same thought because it means I don’t get to see her for as long as I live. I tried to dance around my anger. I quoted scripture to myself as any spiritual person would do. I told myself God was sovereign and I believed it. And I acted like somehow this was all okay even though everything that’s within me tells me it’s not.
That night, after my counseling session, I sat for the longest time not knowing what to say to God. It took quite a while for me to gain the courage to state the truth out loud.
“God, I’m mad.” I know, not real deep, but it was the honest truth.
That’s what I felt like God whispered to my heart, “It’s okay to be mad but you need to bring it to me. I can handle it.”
So I did. I grabbed a notebook, and I started to write. I told God exactly how I felt, why I was mad, why I was frustrated that things didn’t go the way I wanted them to. In that process, there was a release of the burden that was in my soul. I’d cried for months before. I’d said how much I missed my bestie. But I hadn’t dealt with the pain of the emotions I was carrying. While God is sovereign and good, I forgot that He is also a Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace.
There was a struggle and a laying down not only of my will but of my anger.
The band Switchfoot has a song called I Won’t Let You Go. The first time I heard it was the day I experienced uncontrollable rage. I was weeping by the second verse. It was as if God was addressing my pain exactly.
“If you could let the pain of the past go of your soul,
None of this is in your control,
if you could only let your guard down,
If you could learn to trust me somehow,
I swear that I Won’t Let You Go.
If you could only let go your doubts,
if you could just believe in me now,
I swear that I Won’t Let You Go.”
A lot has happened since my best friend has gone to be with Jesus. I got shingles for the second time this year, my husband had a second heart attack, and now this week in the midst of trying to finish the last book of the Once Lost series apparently I have overstressed my left thumb, which is my dominant hand. The doctors say I only need to rest it and be off my computer for four weeks. It truly felt like he said all I needed to do was not breathe for the next month. I’m sitting at my computer voice texting this blog which isn’t at all fun, but a writer’s got to write. I know all the amazing words of wisdom Tammy would have said in the past eight months. I’m pretty certain she would have been making me meals this week and offering to come over and help with anything I needed help with. And she would have prayed for me. Lots of amazing faith-filled prayers that move mountains. All that stirs up my grief yet again. But I tell you, after eight months of dealing with grief, it’s now too heavy for me to hold, which reminds me it’s not my burden to carry. So I cry, and I pray, asking the Lord to lift it from me one more time.
People say time will heal but I believe only the Lord can heal. Maybe it gets easier over time when I turn it over to him faster. In the midst of this crazy week, I voice texted something for The Redeemed that really touched me. The main character, Danny, said, “The physical act of death isn’t pretty. But when your hope is in the Lord, it’s your happily ever after.”
I’m thankful that not only did I get to be by my best friend’s side through the years but that I got to see her happily ever after.
In eight months my son will be off to college, my baby will have her driver’s permit, and God willing, the first book of the Once Lost series, The Deceived, will be out and the publisher will be working on the next two as I write a new series. Amazing how much can happen in eight months. There will be pain. There will be laughter. And God will be there to carry all my emotions and pain.
Regardless of how your life feels turned upside down, God won’t let you go, my friend. I promise He’s there. He can carry the burdens you were never meant to carry.