Two years ago today my Mom left earth. It seems simultaneously like a lifetime ago and a blink-of-an-eye ago.
The road has been long and painful and lonely since then. Life has changed in many ways. Grief has knocked the breath out of me too many times to count. Tears have come so suddenly while I've been out running that they left me gasping for breath. I've been to counseling and I've gone on an anti-depressant. I've accidentally entered her name in my "To" spot to text her more times than I know. Hundreds or thousands of times I've thought, "Oh I need to call Mom..." My kids and I talk about her every day. I see her in my kids and I see her in my flowers and I see her in me.
And much of my journey is too personal to blog about, but much of my journey is also a journey that is similar to yours. And I've come to a place in my journey where I no longer need to share so much about my pain as I need to share about my surrender and my hope.
Last week a good friend sat on my couch with me for a few hours to catch up on life. She asked me how my grief was going. Thank you for asking, by the way.
I told her that I feel like I've finally surrendered. I think I tried to fight for a long time that this was really my story. Many of my girlfriends who have their moms know that I resented them for having moms for a long time. A young mom needs a mom, you know? But I feel like I've surrendered, and in surrendering there is such peace.
But it's been a lonely journey.
I'll never forget how she responded. She told me that she believes grief is always lonely. That no matter how many people are grieving alongside you, grief will always have to be a journey that you have to walk alone. Friends can support you and love you, but no one can carry that cross for you.
I was blown away by that simple truth. She's totally right. And it made me think about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. His friends tried to be there for him, but they just couldn't bear his grief with him. Jesus was alone. And he was alone in his trial. And his suffering. And his death. The worst grief of all grief in the world, and he had to bear it alone. Even to the point that he experienced being forsaken by his Father, which hurts my brain and my heart if I try to understand it. He had to go it alone.
And Mary Magdalene at the tomb a few days later. Although she went with a couple friends to the tomb, the Scriptures show us her alone in her grief. Weeping alone in her grief and fear.
But then the resurrection.
It's everything, friends.
And her loneliness of grief turned into a celebration she had to share.
Because the resurrection really is what it's all about friends. Although the journey of grief is something we have to walk alone, the celebration of the resurrection is something we have to celebrate together. There's no holding it in.
About a month after my mom died, I went out to coffee with a friend whose mom had died just a couple years prior. She told me that after her own mom died, Heaven became so much more real for her. Like she could taste it and feel it and touch it.
My mom's death was too fresh and still too much of a shock for me to get it then.
But I think of it every day now. Because the resurrection is everything. And although every single day I wish my mom was on earth so I could call her and talk to her and ask her questions and let her babysit and have coffee with her and sew with her, really for her sake, I'm so thankful she is in the glory of Heaven. And I can almost taste and feel and touch the beauty and realness of Heaven. It aches in me. And that's good. We were all designed to ache for the glory of Heaven. It's a good and necessary ache.
And if we have to walk through the valley of the shadow of death before we can have a right and good ache for the glory of heaven, then so be it. Because Heaven is what earth is all about.
This journey on earth should point us toward heaven. And the road to get there is through Jesus and his cross.
This past weekend I took my kids on a little excursion. Our hotel was very nice but had a very slow elevator. Now, patience has never been a strength of mine, but waiting for an elevator with a 1,3,5 & 7 year old who are fighting over who gets to push the buttons was really way too much for me. In much frustration I ranted, "Ugghhh this elevator is taking forever!" And Evelyn immediately replied, "Mom, don't say that. You always tell us that nothing is forever except Heaven."
From the mouths of babes, right? So good. And so right. Nothing is forever except Heaven.
The elevator didn't take forever.
And neither is this grief. And neither is this earth. The grief isn't going to last forever. And whether we're separated by death for 6 hours or six decades (I'm hoping for six more decades), in the span of eternity it's simply the blink of an eye.
Because it's all about the resurrection friends. This pain and sorrow and brokenness and loneliness on earth simply points us to the joy of the resurrection. Grief turns to joy.
Yesterday at the zoo my kids and I rounded the corner and right in front of me in this lovely green meadow area was a lone patch of gorgeous purple irises. Mom's favorite. It took my breath away. But it didn't make me sad. It made me smile. Joy. Resurrection. Beauty. God's reminder that eternity is sure and real and trustworthy and totally worth this painful earthly journey.
And friends, I don't know your journey. I know some of yours, but I don't know who will ever read this blog and I don't know your story. But I know this. Your journey on earth is broken. And as much as you try to live by the cultural "Seize the Day" mantra...well, good luck with that.
Your journey will still be broken and painful and, well, human. And you need the hope of the resurrection. You were made for the glory of Heaven and your heart won't have peace until you surrender to the reality that this earth is painful and lonely, but the joy of the resurrection is to be shared and celebrated.
Because it's real friends. And it's everything.
And when we surrender to this, we find real hope. And although this sinful broken earthly world will disappoint us, the hope of the resurrection never will. And praise Jesus for that.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.