Love in Grief

She sat her designer jeans right down on the dirty tiled floor. Our knees nearly touching as she matched my folded leg position.  Her hand gently rubbed my no-name denim as she said softly, “Tell me about him. I want to know everything.” And she leaned in to hear my reply.

I met her gaze through blurred eyes. Striving to see how she managed to turn this run-down restroom into a private sanctuary. Her eyes told me she meant it. She wanted to hear why I loved my great-grandpa so. Why it hurt so much to say good-bye.

He smelled of raw onions and juicy fruit gum. Even while in his favorite rocker, his hard-working hands always stayed busy. He would twiddle them in time to the rocker. Smooth, steady. Mesmerizing.

I’m sure my incessant singing came from him. For he always had a tune to share. A lesson to reveal through song.

The Saturday mornings he would come over on his four-wheeler were always my favorite. He would bring freshly baked, sticky cinnamon rolls and love on my dog while we ate. Then, wheeler rides for everyone! I had no idea what a blessing it was to have them live on the same street as me. Two sets of grandparents on the same street…

I learned how to share him at church when the line to greet him each Sunday grew longer. For he always had Tootsie rolls for every child. He’d manage to sneak me more than one, plus a stick of gum and I would know. I made his world spin round.

He lost his sight in later years, but could still see right through me. He was more than a great-grandpa. He was a part of me. I loved him dearly. And he knew how to love me.

To say that out loud somehow made my heart feel whole again. The memories of love filled the emptiness and caused the sparkle in my eye to return. And I was finally able to pick myself up off that floor.

I was barely a teenager when I learned this powerful lesson. That God could fill the hole left behind if you exude the love experienced with the one you miss dear. Acknowledging their significance brings glory to their Creator and He will make sure you know that. The love He receives through it will be lavished right back onto you.

It’s healing’s greatest ointment. The salve that protects the wound left behind.

And when you feel blessed to simply have experienced that love at all. When you come to the point of praise, of thanking God for bringing that one into your life, you will witness the pain of grief transforming into joy.

God couldn’t agree more the one you miss is worth the pain of grief. To Him, they were worth the price. . .

How about you? I would be honored if you would tell me about someone you have loved and lost.

Have you found the joy of grieving? I’d love to hear. 

NOTE: This is a part of my Grieving series started on my stillborn son’s birthday. You may catch up on any posts missed by clicking HERE.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

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Turning Grief to Joy

“Very truly I tell you,
you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices.
You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.”
John 16:20 NIV

It doesn’t matter how many times you experience the process, it still blows you away every time. When your heart feels shattered and you need reminders to simply breathe, there it is. The world taunting you as it continues spinning in orbit. People around you completely oblivious to anything changed. Life carrying on. Significance ignored.

As we weep and mourn, the world rejoices.

Jesus got this. He told His disciples it was going to happen that way, that His death would seem insignificant to everyone but them. People would carry on like it didn’t even matter one they loved so deeply was gone.

But then He promised. He assured them the pain would transform.
You see, it never goes away, only transfigures.
And friends, He’s promised. Our grief can turn to joy.

Sometimes I wonder if the world rejoicing is our reminder of the big picture. Maybe it’s a glimmer of promise. Of significance sustained.

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart,
and you shall see that in truth
you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
~Kahlil Gibran

No matter how much I search, I am convinced I’ll never find it. Not one Bible verse or phrase. Nowhere does it say not to grieve. On the contrary. It gives permission to mourn. In the verse first mentioned, it’s even an expectation.

I fully believe grieving is a gift from our Heavenly Father. It’s proof we really can love that much. So much it hurts when it feels like it has been stolen from us.

Sometimes I wonder if what we’re really worried about is that we will forget. We’ll forget how much we loved so deeply. We mourn to delight in that again. And we long to stop the world from spinning. To freeze time until we find our footing. Until significance is acknowledged.

But when we are flattened, crushed, in the depths of loss, our Abba Father is there waiting to pick us back up again. To lavish us with His love and soothe our hurt. To remind us of His promises. To come to our rescue.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”
Psalm 34:18 NLT

He’s promised to be there for us. He will weep with us, hold us, shelter our hearts, help us put the pieces back together again.

Because He understands what we’re going through. He knows this feeling of grief. Of longing to have love back again. He knows the gaping hole another life can leave. For we are each significant to Him.

Friends, only in His arms does the world stop spinning. It’s the only place we can simply be.

And when you find your way there,
the promise becomes reality.
Grief turns to joy.
Not forgotten. Simply transfigured.

How about you? Have you experienced grief transformed? How did it happen for you? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Joy in affliction is rooted in the hope of resurrection,
but our experience of suffering also deepens the root of that hope.
~John Piper

NOTE: This is a part of the mini-series started on my stillborn son’s birthday. You may find all the posts on grieving  HERE.

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I’ll Never Forget

It’s a day I will never forget. That would hold true even if the end would have been different. You see, we mothers are that way. When we see our womb-protected child on a black and white screen…we see love in immeasurable magnitudes. It leaves an impression on our heart so strong it singes the image in our mind. Forever kept as a keepsake. A reminder of how God loves us. How He blessed us with the opportunity to carry one of His own.

It’s a day I will never forget. And for some reasons, it’s because the ending was different. You see, we mothers are that way. Our senses kick into high gear as we take on the responsibility of caring for one of God’s beloved. And I was anxiously awaiting that task. Please, son, I want you to know this. I was ready to protect you at all costs.

A part of me hopes it’s a day she will forget. The poor woman who punched the clock to do her normally exciting job. Completely unaware of how she would alter our circumstances. She was excited to share in our joy with you. But no matter how she moved that wand, it wasn’t to be a magic one that day. After all, she couldn’t make your heart start beating again.

It’s a day I will never forget. The day the doctor said, “It’s a boy.” The day I proclaimed your name out loud. Held you in my arms for the first time and the last. The day I gave you back to God.

It’s a time I’ll never forget. How I sat down at the ivories like I had done the 7 months we were together. In my heart, I was still playing for you and me. And as I played the hymn over and over, God whispered love into my ear. He spoke to my mother-heart and assured me He’s got it from here.

It’s a day I never forget to look forward to. The day I can hold you in my arms again. The day I can see with my own eyes what my soul already knows. That there you are, flourishing in His courts, praising the One who made you. The One gracious enough to allow me to call you son.

This hymn is one I will never forget. For it helped this “old soul” of mine to heal. As I played the notes written, my heart finally found the rhythm. Its beat in tune with God’s plan.  And though the enemy tries to stop me, I will never forget to proclaim it.

My child, you’re safe in the arms of Jesus. Just where I would have raised you to be. And I’m blessed to be your mama. That I will never forget.

The hymn that helped me through:

Children of the Heavenly Father

(I’m sure your hymnal only gives you four of the verses.
I am sharing all six written by the original author:
Karolina W. Sandell-Berg)

Children of the heav’nly Father
Safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird nor star in Heaven
Such a refuge e’er was given.

God His own doth tend and nourish;
In His holy courts they flourish;
From all evil things He spares them;
In His mighty arms He bears them.

Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord His children sever;
Unto them His grace He showeth,
And their sorrows all He knoweth.

Though He giveth or He taketh,
God His children ne’er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy.

Lo, their very hairs He numbers,
And no daily care encumbers
Them that share His ev’ry blessing
And His help in woes distressing.

Praise the Lord in joyful numbers:
Your Protector never slumbers.
At the will of your Defender
Ev’ry foeman must surrender.

Friends, today is my second son’s birthday. I’m sharing this with you today not for you to feel sorry for me. But for you to rejoice with me. That we serve a living God who promises to never forsake our children. Even those we don’t have the pleasure to raise to maturity.

I feel led to share a bit more with you this week about how I found joy in my grieving. In hopes I can encourage another going through a similar situation. I hope it’s not you who needs it, but would love if you’d join me regardless.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Sharing with:

Love’s Presence

I can still hear him. In the black of night when the earth feels still, I hear his rich voice welcoming me. He would greet me with that special name he had just for me. And every time, it made me feel like I was his whole world. Yes, my Grandpa Al knew how to love well. He wasn’t afraid of it. He chose to proclaim it. 

Some days when the phone rings I’m taken back to that day. The day that made me change my ring tone. I remember my two-letter word of denial — the only word I could seem to push passed my lips. Yet reality strikes true no matter how you try to look around it. And sometimes your present day is something you never expected. Not yet anyway.

But I can close my eyes and invite memories to warm my soul. There I can see him with open arms ready to embrace. I can hear his contagious laughter and see his bright eyes beam with pride. And love comes rushing in to the hole he left deep inside.

For love knows no bounds.
Time can’t contain it. Death cannot penetrate it.
And even after years in-between,
love can still make its presence known.

~~~~~~~~~~

Love can creep up on you when you least expect it. It rushes in like a tidal wave the minute you see the positive test result. The second you hear a heartbeat. For love has no bounds. And sometimes you just know. That even after 22 weeks, you have loved so deep you’ll never be the same again. Its presence has been made known.

~~~~~~~~~~

I can’t recall when I learned love is a choice. That the emotions surrounding love are merely side effects to the experience. But the day you realize that is the day you begin to understand what God is asking of us. When He asks us to love with all that we have. For most of us know in this journey of love, pain can apply. Yet love holds no regrets. There is not one instance where love should have been avoided.

And we can accept the gift of mourning. We can allow the process of love to make its presence known. For in grieving we acknowledge that we are fully capable of submitting to love. And as we mourn what we think we lost, we come to realize that all we wanted was more. More time to experience love’s presence. That which cannot be lost at all.

For love has no bounds.
Even in grief it can thrive.
Our thoughts alone can keep love alive.

And when God asks me daily to love Him with all that I have, I choose to say yes.  For I have seen love in all its glory. Its presence has been made known to me. And I like what it makes me become when I submit to it whole-heartedly. 

It is God’s greatest gift.
It is God’s Greatest Commandment.
It is the greatest decision one can ever make.

Yes, Lord. I will love You. With all that I am.
I will make love’s presence known.

For God IS love.
God has no bounds.
Time can’t contain Him. Death cannot penetrate Him.

And I choose to enjoy making His presence known.

Do you? Have you chosen love? Will you join me in making God’s presence known even when it’s uncomfortable? Even when it downright hurts?

For love has no bounds. There’s no telling what we could do if we choose to abide in His greatest gift. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to keep striving to find out.

Thank you for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

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