Saturday, January 19, 2013

So, how are you processing today?

8:41 p.m. Today's project was to attend the action-packed, exiting January Jam, hosted by many Mary Kay directors, in Corona, about 20 miles to the west of Riverside. Despite the fact that I arose at 5 a.m., I arrived at 8:30 instead of 7:15 as planned. I had two legit excuses, however: I couldn't go outside to change our dog's water and clean up the yard until daybreak, approximately 6:30.  Then following devotions, one of my contact lenses tore while in my eye! The enemy just does not like hundreds of Christian women getting together to encourage and instruct one another. Wish I could hear all of the other ladies' "delays and obstructions" stories this morning! When we encounter setbacks, and experience Satan's attempts to rip off our blessings, we need to remember what Jesus said, John 10:10,

The thief is not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.I have come that they may have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

And so we did!

Today's first thought about my personal grief process accompanied a hug from a lovely colleague as I came in and sat with our group. I really wanted to remain cheery and excited like I was, but tears rose up, never quite making it down to my cheeks. Hugs seem to be a trigger for me, but that isn't surprising since my friends are so very sad. They don't know how dreadful Steve's last year was, and the horrific downward slide he had in his last months. When I have time to mention Steve's choice to go home rather than have his life artificially extended in what he knew would be the final stages of dementia, they understand and give God praise for naturally ending my husband's mental and physical suffering on this earth, that He might receive him in heaven.

Other times of difficulty for me occur when I look at pictures of Steve in his prime as a middle-aged father of a great family, a man at the top of his profession, and active in the things of God. As recently as six years ago, I couldn't have imagined his end coming so swiftly.  We have hundreds of photos of all of us throughout the bottom floor of this house, but for some reason, I break down and cry over at my piano, where there are many pictures of both of us, of all of us. I wonder if my tears are those of disblief and even a kind of reality check? "How can he be gone?" I ask myself and God, while just shaking my head in dismay. Is this mourning for things undone, or words unsaid? It's possible, of course. But we had a very blessed, full and rich life, not perfect, but God did allow us 31 years in which to enjoy married love, raise a family, and to serve others in the name of Jesus. We were (and are) "heirs together of the grace of life," I Peter 3:7.

As for our adult children, I believe in keeping dialogue open, and talking very descriptively about their reactions and the way they are processing their dad's death--how are they individually mourning? I want them to know that there is no time frame or right way to go through this life passage, that random, unbridled tears are normal. Jesus created both life and death, and He will walk each one through the "valley of the shadow of death" (Psalm 23:4)--including my eventual passing and their own.

Reactions I have heard among the five are crying jags, dreams of their dad, general depression, anxiety attacks, and like me, inability to completely focus.  Or, the more proactive approach for a few of them is staying busy at work one enjoys. It's a God thing, I'm convinced, but I participated in 5 Mary Kay events this week, and began calling customers again, as I gained confidence in the steadiness and cheerfulness of my phone voice. (Before I felt prepared for live conversation, it was "texting only"). With a week of loving encouragement behind me, I am sensing God moving me forward in my career. And with insurance matters handled, I'll need to be an even wiser steward as a single person, a widow with no husband to consult with.

Isaiah 54:5 assures me, your Maker is your husband.

So be it, and hallelujah, your will has been done, Lord Jesus!

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