I spent the last week in my mother in laws home, (whom we lost 3 years ago) in which another woman now resides, waiting to hear news on the life or death of two precious women.
One was my husbands grandmother, whom I have been blessed to have in my life for over 12 years. The moment I met her, she took me in as her own. She introduced me as her granddaughter and loved me as that. I have been blessed by late night talks, pecan pie making, and potato salad training. I have watched her fight back from the verge of death, mourn the loss of her oldest daughter, hold her first great grandson, love selflessly, and beyond reason.
Her faith despite loosing 2 of her children long before their time astounded me. Her faithfulness and love in almost 60 years of marriage, was breathtakingly beautiful, often despite ugly circumstances. She was gracious and kind, and yet not afraid to tell it like it was. She loved family fiercely, even if you were a third cousin. Her astounding bowling and teaching abilities are the reason I won’t ever win a game against my husband or any member of his family. Any time we went some place, people knew her, especially Denny’s. Her role as a military wife left her friends internationally. Any where she went she was loved, and loved back.
She had been on her death bed for several months and we’d been pleading with The Lord to take her home, to relieve her suffering, and bring relief to caregivers. Mainly to grandpa, who was simultaneously undergoing chemo on his third fight with cancer.
Our prayer went seemingly unanswered for months.
While away, we got word that our beloved babysitter, and friend was involved in a freak bicycle accident which left her with a severe brain injury and grasping for life.
I had always joked with her that she was the child whisperer. She had such a gift with children…of all ages, that few can rival. They just flock to her, at church, the park…she had a special touch. My kids would literally count down the hours and minutes until her arrival. When I would break news of needing to go out unexpectedly, their first response was “is Miss Katie coming?” And as long as that answer was yes, all was well.
I have this inability to just see babysitters out, and Katie was not the exception. We’d stand in the foyer, and I’d get to hear about a boy Stephen, who was a friend, who was then something more, and grew into a great love. I’d listen to stories about her and her best friend Meagan and their adventures of moving in and living together, dogs and snowstorms. She tried to help me understand her love of Dr. Who, and My Little Pony. I loved hearing about her family…her incredible parents and their selfless love, her adoption story, hearing about how excited she was to become an aunt, how she and her little sister would sing Annie together, the love and joy she had as she talked about them spilled out to others, and you wanted to join in on the fun.
What always struck me most about Katie besides her joy, was her servants heart. Each Sunday I walked into church my daughter would joyfully bounce into her class because she knew Miss Katie was there. If she saw you trying to have a conversation amidst clamoring kiddos, she would without a word just scoop them up so you could talk. Every time she babysat, she would go above and beyond. I always came home to a cleaner house than I left it. She unloaded my dishwasher. Mamas get how big that is. She loved and served well, all in the name of Jesus.
We were pleading with The Lord for life and healing for this young, vibrant woman who had so much more life to give, and the prayers seemed to go unanswered.
We got news hours apart of both of theirs passing…one we begged for life, the other we pleaded for months for death, and the answer to both didn’t make sense.
What do you do with that? How do you have faith in times like these?
These are moments when faith and trust are shown for how deep they are. When the rubber hits the road. To be honest, this has revealed that mine is not where it should be. I have questioned, doubted, mentally shook my proverbial fist, and just been so exhausted and weary of this faith walk.
In the last four years we have lost four grandparents, a mom/mother-in-law, had two miscarriages, mourned and stood with many friends as they grieved similar losses. Not to mention the everyday losses and hurts you have to walk through. I’m tired of grieving, and trying to understand God or His purposes. How do you have faith and trust in someone when you feel hurt and betrayed by them? How do you not begin to doubt someone’s presence or goodness when you go so long without seeing evidence of it?
I’d be lying if there weren’t times in the midst of all the death when I just wanted to walk away and be done.
But what hope do I have in that? That it’s just the end, and it’s over? That there’s no answers, resolution, or hope? That maybe they’ll come back as a butterfly I can connect with?
The only way I have any hope that we will see our loved ones again, or that their death has purpose is if I have faith in Christ. That despite of my lack of understanding, or answered prayer, He has a plan and a purpose.
Some truths I’ve been reminding myself of recently:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55: 8-9
As much as what is happening may not make sense to me, or anyone else, God doesn’t think like we do. He makes decisions with the entire universe, knowing past and future, in mind. And I’m grateful. I don’t want to worship a God who I can figure out and understand all the time. If I can mentally wrestle Him down, then He must be finite and not holy and all knowing. I want to worship a God that’s bigger than my tiny mind can comprehend.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
I love this one. The Spirit is helping me, and praying for me. Even when I’m struggling and doubting, the Spirit is there, and pleading to God on my behalf.
I also love the sweet reminder, that even though this all seems too much, God is working it for good. These deaths and their timing were both for their good, and the good of those who loved them. I can’t comprehend this (default to prior verse), and it seems wrong, but I (try to) trust the author and creator, the all knowing, and all seeing God.
The temptation right now, is to want to be selfish. This is totally where I’ve been the last several days. I want to think of the loss that it is to me, to others, for everyone who knew these incredible women.
The call for followers of Christ is to be gospel minded. To be open handed, with the resources that we are given, with the responsibilities we have, titles we are endowed, and the people in our lives. Open handed with our kids, and the calling that God may have on their lives. Open handed with our family and friends and the place God may call them…even if it’s to His side. Leveraging all for Him. It’s easy to talk about sacrificing for Christ and the call He may have, but so much harder to live it out in true faith.
Today I grieve the loss of two cherished women. Life is duller without their joy and light. I don’t have answers on the when’s and why’s. My heart hurts and I am lacking in faith.
Just as the father cried out in Mark 9:24, “I do believe, help my unbelief!”