Left to Live

For the longest time, I felt like I was being punished or made to suffer because pretty much everyone close to me has died. This includes two siblings, mother, father, best friends, my mentor, beloved pets…the list is long. I mean, why are they gone and I’m still here?!

My life, from the time I can remember has been, well, hard. It seems when I look back there are so many losses, so much sadness and lots of struggles. I don’t know many people that have lived through some of the things I’ve lived through. If I wrote about a lot of it I would have to market it as fiction.

Recently after the loss of a another childhood friend I was snatched with grief. I felt so bad for his close friends as well as myself. I’ve also watched as those around me suffered through their losses and hardships which breaks my heart. We’ve lost so many the past few years it seems. Some say that’s to be expected at our age. Maybe that’s true. Maybe we need to stay prepared for loss and death.

We could stay focused on the bad and sad, keeping ourselves primed for the worst. We could stay in a defensive mode always looking to guard ourselves as best we can from the trials and tribulations of life. If we did though, wouldn’t we miss out on the good?

I’ve lived long enough to know God always, always, always brings something good out of something bad. Perspective is everything. In the midst of what we think will finish us there’s always something to comfort us and help us see past the grief and pain.

While thinking about all of this it dawned on me. We’re left to LIVE. We have survived what we thought would kill us! He left us here to live. So what does that mean?

There’s a difference between surviving something and living through it. Surviving means (to me) taking one breath after another never seeing joy in anything. It means feeling no gratefulness, or anything else for that matter. It’s that place of going through the motions – no enjoyment, no heartfelt thankfulness, and worst of all, no praise to God. It’s the life of “walking dead”. No feelings about anything. Monotone misery.

LIVING on the other hand is the opposite. It’s learning to be grateful for getting to be alive one more day and being joyful for that blessing. Living is waking up knowing your day may be just like your yesterday and being glad about it. It’s finding the good in the bad even if you have to look hard to find it.

Living is being sad you lost someone but being thankful you had them in your life in the first place! Living is seeing someone else going through what you’ve already passed through and offering to help. It’s believing that God, in His infinite wisdom and providence, has allowed you to be here right now for “such a time as this”.

You’ve been left to LIVE. Will you?

Advertisements

Almost Finished!

“But Grace Prevailed” is almost finished! It’s the story of my journey to accepting Jesus, and my son’s tumultuous journey from birth. He’s a special needs person…they told me he wouldn’t live to be a year old & IF he did he’d never walk or talk. He’s now 30. Quite the “God story”. I’ll keep you posted!

ReRuns

I remember exactly what I was doing six years ago tonight. I was at Huntsville Hospital with my younger sister who was dying. On past anniversaries of her death of course I’ve remembered…but not like I am tonight. I remember laying my head on her pillow and singing “His Eye is on the Sparrow”. I can almost hear the voices of everyone with us in the room. I can recite the prayers and recall the people I met & the conversations we had. Why this year? I don’t want to remember all the details. I had a “trigger” today, a jolt back to that time in my life. I’ve tried all day long not to go “there” to no avail. I’m there and it’s sad & painful.

I’m also seeing what a profound season that was in my life in many ways. The lessons God taught me are numerous and, as a dear friend pointed out to me tonight, defined my faith in Him more than I realized until now.

I’ve had many experiences through which God has shown me who He is and taught me lessons but at no time in my life was He more real to me than He was when Joy died. This is a “footprints” moment. Through every moment of those three days she was in the hospital, her funeral and that first year I look back and see I was being carried. I’m here now so I obviously lived through it though I don’t know how…only one explanation: the carrying grace of God.

That’s when I learned that God isn’t obligated to explain Himself (unfortunately). All the times I’d heard of what He is capable of and His great love for us; His one-on-one personal attention to every detail of our lives came through those days. I saw it & experienced it through one of the worst things I had ever gone through. How crazy is that! I literally felt every cliche’ thing I had ever heard…and believed by the way…but there’s something about KNOWING all of it based on, well, knowing that changes you and your perspective. The knowledge of a personal God…my personal God makes it impossible to ever be the same.

Through her death, I learned the real meaning of Psalm 23:4. Walking through the “shadow of death” is just that: a shadow of death. It’s going through (with Him) what you think will surely kill you. Maybe it’s practice for the real thing. I don’t know. I just know that I didn’t WANT to live through such pain & loss and I’m sure God saw me through it; more than that He carried me. He tended to this grief-stricken pitiful child.

I remember the second I decided not to blame Him. Before that moment it could’ve gone either way. I’m an alcoholic (if you don’t know that already)~I’ve been sober 23 years thanks be to God. On this day six yrs ago I almost went back…I remember it so clearly. I almost decided not to trust Him,that this was my last straw…but I chose to hang onto Him rather than turn away. Why I don’t know, I just did.

Most of the time I try to look forward instead of back. I may take glances because I never want to forget where God brought me from but I don’t dwell in it. Tonight He’s taking me through every moment of that “shadow of death” and I think I know why. I think it’s meant for me to see how far He’s brought me through what He’s brought me through. Many things I had fogotten about that time, many things I chose to forget because it just hurt too much. Not tonight. I remember. This is a bonified rerun, just like watching a movie.

I clearly see that time in my life as forming who this woman of God is now. I’m who I am largely due to back then. I KNOW God now. I know what He did for me and I’ll never get over it, at least I hope I don’t. I’m quite tenacious where He’s concerned. He’s my favorite topic of conversation. Studying His Word & writing/sharing what He brings out of our time together is my “sweet spot” and all of that started with my sister’s death. I loved Him before; I was saved years before. I knew Jesus before…but not like I KNOW Him now. I’m no longer going to apologize for that.

Romans 8:28. ALL things. I know that to be true. Absolutely true. Even in death and loss and yes, especially through “the valley of the shadow of death”. 

So I said all that to say this: when you look back on any of your past, no matter how painful, look back purposefully. Make a point to take in where you were then and where you are now. Somehow miraculously regardless of how devastating it was you’ll see as I have that God has an amazing ability to bring something beautiful out of all the pain. If you don’t see it now, I’m praying you soon will.