Wednesday, August 15, 2007

In Twelve Years

Twelve years ago this morning at 7:20 am, I became a widow. I've tried hard not to think about the fact that today is "the" day but it's a little hard not to. Dates stick in my mind like glue, and 8/15 is a big one for me.

The thought did occur to me last night though, to consider what I have learned from a hard life lesson - or rather - what I have learned in these last twelve years. That is a lot harder than it looks, trust me. Regardless, I'm going to list some things that might be of benefit to someone:

Our God is a most merficul God indeed. In times of pain and heartache He is there to comfort you through a wide variety of means. By His Holy Spirit, through His word, through His people and His church. He doesn't let you forget that He knows all about your pain and wants you to find your rest, strength, guidance and comfort in Him. That's the most important thing I've learned, and it applies to all kinds of situations in life.

One of the critical and practical things I've learned is that one should never, under any circumstances, attempt to make any kind of big, life changing decisions in the first year (or two) after an extreme emotional trauma. You are quite simply not yourself. You aren't thinking clearly, and you generally are not in a position emotionally or spiritually to practice keen discernment. That's a really important thing I've learned. (I do want to clarify this though by saying that I am not presupposing our God cannot give you the wisdom you need to make such decisions, because He certainly can. Our God is sovereign over all the affairs of men and indeed can circumvent your personal circumstances with His grace and mercy. It's not a matter of whether He can or not, it's a matter of whether He does, or not. Just as the captain of an army wouldn't expect a critically wounded soldier to stand and fight, and fight well - after an extreme emotional wound we're just as incapacitated as the soldier in battle. There's a time for 'down time' and rest and healing, and making important decisions in that down time is the wrong time to do that).

Another thing I've learned is that life can be so busy and so full, that it's that busyness that aids in helping you heal. By God's grace and providence, I've remarried a good and godly (and very funny) man and had 4 more kids in the last twelve years. Had anyone told me twelve years ago this would be the case, I would have given them "the look". The same look you give to the Beagle when she eats diecast toy cars (the same look you give to the husband when he thinks it's cute that such a dietary item has just been ingested). Such a suggestion would have been unthinkable and so far outside of reality and reason, that it would be dismissed as nutty. What seems impossible for men is possible with God, and where there seems to be no way, He makes a way. Sometimes He does that in most astounding, incredible, joy-filled ways. It's pretty hard to dwell on the unpleasant things when you have a household to maintain, diapers to change, and a neverending mountain of laundry that you're half convinced could be a secure location for a family in the witness protection program.

I'm sure there are more things I've learned than these, but these are just off the top of my head this morning. I still wonder from time to time if Ben knows he's been in Heaven with Jesus for as long as he has. As of just a few minutes ago, it's been exactly 12 years since he first saw Him face to face. Does he know it's been twelve years? I seriously doubt it, since 12 years in the light of eternity is clearly a reality we can't fathom in our finite minds.

I'm just so glad he knew the Lord as his personal Lord and Savior, before he left. That has been my comfort for the last twelve years. Knowing and being as sure as you ever can be of a loved one's relationship with the Lord, is such an amazing assurance. I'm never left wondering, I'm never grieved that he went into eternity seperated from God. I know where he is, and I've never wished him back here from there, once. How could I? I know what it's like here, and I know what the Bible says it's like there, and there, is the place to be when we leave here, never to return.

If there is anything else I've learned, it's that t-storms in mid-August will likely always make me think of that day and take personal stock of where I've been, and how far the Lord has brought me since. It's a landmark in my Christian walk, and even though it's still hard, in some ways it's a good thing as it always causes me to do this sort of reflection.

I think reflecting is a good thing, even when it is really hard.