I learned a lot from grief.
I learned that my identity was as a wife, a mother and a daughter. When I lost my husband, and later my dad, a lot
of what made me feel whole seemed to disappear.
For years, I submerged myself in my role as “mom”. I needed my kids as much as they needed
me. As they grew up and moved on with
their lives, I again lost my touch point, my anchor. Where did I belong? How would I make a difference? It was a struggle. I forgot what it meant to be just “me”.
Have you ever felt the effects of too much caffeine? That jumpy, panicky feeling became normal for
me. Most days, I felt like I need to
crawl out of my own skin. On the days when my kids weren’t around or I
didn’t have to work, I stayed in bed. It
was easier to sleep than to face my reality.
I didn’t keep up with my house or
my yard. I avoided being at home as much
as I could. I didn’t know how to ask for
help. I didn’t know if there was any
help. I was overwhelmed. I was supposed to be strong and I was embarrassed
to admit that I was failing in every area.
I just tried to keep my head above water.
I lived this way for almost 10 years. I knew I had to get used to my new “normal”
and believed that I had dealt with my grief.
I helped with grief recovery groups.
I put on a good face. I didn’t
realize that I was living with depression.
All the things that had given my life meaning seemed to be
disappearing. My son and daughter didn’t
need a hands-on mom. I had accepted that
I would live out the rest of my life alone.
It had been long enough. I had to get over it all. I had to close the door on the part of my
life that wanted to be loved and accepted.
But, I had a friend that listened to me. A friend heard what I said and what I didn’t
really want heard. He asked questions I
didn’t want to answer. He probed into
areas that were off-limits. He
recommended counseling. He encouraged me
to trust again. He challenged me to open
the doors that I had closed and sort through those emotions and dreams. He waited patiently to be allowed into all
areas of my life.
There are many that question the choices I’ve made over the
last four years. And, there are those that frankly, just
disapprove of the life I now have. I’ve
heard the whispers and I’ve seen the looks.
I don’t have any doubts that I am
exactly where I need to be. I married my
dearest friend. I have never felt safer
or more secure. I am loved deeply and
completely. Our life is not without its
challenges and frustrations, but we face them together.
I have learned that grief is love turned upside down. I will never give up the opportunity to
experience a deep and passionate love in order to avoid the pain of grief. Love is worth EVERYTHING!
Easter Sunday has come and gone once again. The chocolate bunnies and candy eggs are now sitting on the clearance aisles. I have always enjoyed Easter eggs; the dying, the hiding and the hunting. Some of my fondest memories are of the egg hunts at my grandparents farm with my cousins and family members. Eggs would be found for days around the yard after Easter. I looked forward to the new dress, the shiny new shoes and maybe a new hat. Easter was the beginning of spring. A new beginning for the year. But, I’ve learned that Easter (or Resurrection Day) is so much more than frilly dresses and colorful eggs.
Easter is all about Love. True, deep and passionate love. It is a blueprint for each of us to know what it is to love sacrificially. In short, the meaning of Easter is how we, as Christians, are to love. Period.
The week before the crucifixion, Jesus is honored with a dinner and a very expensive anointing. Mary knew the meaning of sacrificing for one you love.
Six days before Passover, Jesus entered Bethany where Lazarus, so recently raised from the dead, was living. Lazarus and his sisters invited Jesus to dinner at their home. Martha served. Lazarus was one of those sitting at the table with them. Mary came in with a jar of very expensive aromatic oils, anointed and massaged Jesus’ feet, and then wiped them with her hair. The fragrance of the oils filled the house. Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, even then getting ready to betray him, said, “Why wasn’t this oil sold and the money given to the poor? It would have easily brought three hundred silver pieces.” He said this not because he cared two cents about the poor but because he was a thief. He was in charge of their common funds, but also embezzled them. 7-8 Jesus said, “Let her alone. She’s anticipating and honoring the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you. You don’t always have me.” Word got out among the Jews that he was back in town. The people came to take a look, not only at Jesus but also at Lazarus, who had been raised from the dead.
John 12:1-10 MSG
Have you ever kept something precious for yourself? I have! I used to hide my Christmas candy. It was something I felt the need to share. It was MINE! Mary offered something not only special, but very expensive. A gift borne out of love and devotion.
Later in the week, Jesus would celebrate the Passover with his disciples. It was customary to wash the feet of the guests before the meal. Not one of the disciples was willing to do this. But, Jesus was willing.
Jesus knew that the Father had put him in complete charge of everything, that he came from God and was on his way back to God. So he got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron.
John 13:3-5 MSG
Have you ever heard or uttered the phrase “It’s not my job”? My husband and I have various responsibilities around the house. On more than one occasion, I have used this phrase to get out of a less than pleasant task. Washing feet would be one of those things I would not want to do. But, Jesus took a servant’s position. It may not have been His job, but it was His pleasure.
Jesus lived love. How different would our lives be if we followed His directions to ” Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.” Would my marriage be better if I loved my spouse more than I love myself and put my bucket list down and honored him instead? How would my children react if they witnessed that they were more important to me than my own agenda or enjoyment?
“I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.
“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.
“You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.
“But remember the root command: Love one another.
John 15: 9-17 MSG
Jesus knew what was coming. He knew the next days would be brutally painful. He knew. And, He continued to love and to sacrifice for us.
Then he told them, “My soul is crushed with horror and sadness to the point of death . . . stay here . . . stay awake with me.” He went forward a little, and fell face downward on the ground, and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup be taken away from me. But I want your will, not mine.”
Matthew 26:38-39 TLB
Christ took the punishment that I deserve. He stood in the gap for me. He was beaten and murdered to give me the gift of God’s love. All that is asked in return is that I put my faith in Him and love other’s just like He loves me.
He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed. We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him.
Isaiah 53:5-6 MSG
The next time I’m upset because I didn’t get my way, I will remember what Jesus did for me. When loving another person means walking away from my own pursuit of happiness, I will choose to walk in Love. On those days when I think I am being asked to give up too much too often, I will rethink my own comfort and walk the walk that Jesus taught.
What does Easter mean to you? Is it just a time for games and bunny rabbits? Or, is there a deeper meaning to this day of celebration? Are you willing to truly love in the sacrificial and passionate way that Jesus taught? What does it mean to Love?