Monday, September 16, 2013

Quiet meant time to think...

The days following Jay's funeral were the hardest. We all needed rest but rest meant quiet, and quiet meant time to think--and to be honest--that scared me. I knew that I would miss Jay even more as things settled down and that I would rely on my images of our life together to bring me comfort, but from the moment I had found out that he was gone, images of our life together seemed to be something my mind would not produce. I couldn't picture him walking around the house or playing with our dog, sitting in his office, walking up the stairs.. nothing.  I thought for sure that when the world stopped spinning and the quiet came that my memories of our times together would come back naturally, but they didn't. I tried to stir up my thoughts by thinking about some of our favorite moments together but my memories were more of a fog that didn't seem real, and my images of  Jay were fuzzy and unclear. It disturbed me, but I knew it was my mind's way of protecting itself and I had to trust God with whatever process He saw fit, and thankfully that would soon be revealed. 

There was a spot in our bathroom and every time I'd cross over it I'd begin to cry. It started out as a cry that I could quickly gain control of, but slowly it progressed into something deeper. I often would have to sit and ride it out, but still I couldn't understand why it kept happening. All I knew was that I hurt, and crossing over this spot made me feel the hurt over and over again. I had gotten myself into the habit of avoiding the area as much as possible, but one day being in a rush I crossed over it unexpectedly. It was in this moment that God would reveal to me what my mind was now able to handle. This was the spot where Jay and I connected every morning. No matter which one of us made it to their sink first to get ready for the day, when the other came in, we'd meet in the middle [the spot] for the good morning hug. Just like that I could see him standing there holding me. I could feel him, and it hurt. The cries I let out before this moment, every time I passed over this spot, prepared me for this heartbreaking picture in my head and it gave me the ability to withstand the images of what I had lost. I was able to embrace the pain and the tears of my reality as God had brought them on slowly for my sake. I believe it's important to embrace pain with the trust of God's presence. He will always be faithful. 

As time began to move forward without Jay, getting back into the routines of life made no sense to me. How could the world keep moving when my world and the world of my family's had completely stopped?  But the truth was that the world didn't stop. It kept spinning and I no longer felt a part of it. Hearing people laugh, and seeing the energy of people as they hustled through their business, became a path I simply had to cut through to accomplish what I needed to get done each day. It exhausted me, and it made the smallest tasks seem like the biggest endeavors. Going to the grocery store was about the only thing I could handle for a while and I wasn't very productive with that. I would head out with a list of grocery items that were pretty basic, and I would be lucky If I could manage to get one thing. I would feel fine leaving my house but by the time I'd get to the parking lot, all of my energy would dissolve and so would my productivity. 

One day as I headed out to run an errand I could feel my "energy dissolving" as I got closer and closer to my destination. I considered turning around this time but there were things I had to get done. As I pulled into the parking lot, the Lord put a scripture on my heart. It was Hebrews 13:2-Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. This was a beautiful thought to me: to consider that angels are roaming the earth, and that they truly exist. I found myself calling out to God, proclaiming this truth, and asking him to put angles in every direction of my path. As I drove through the parking lot, every person I passed appeared angelic to me and I found a new source of strength from within. This beautiful picture of angels surrounding me gave me the energy to get done what I needed to get done and at times I even felt carried. It was a very productive trip to the store that day and it continued to be that way throughout the rest of the week as I called out to the Lord for His help. 

I had told my daughter Danielle about what the Lord had shown me, and how I had been able to get through my week trusting in God's promises, and believing that His angels were present to help get me through my days. I could tell that the thought comforted her, but as God is so intimate and personal with his children, He would have His own plan to show her directly what I was talking about. Days after I had shared my angel story with her, we went to the grocery store to pick up some weekend supplies. We were in the fruit section coming around a corner display when we bumped into, dare I say it, a jolly old man. We laughed as we almost hit each other with our carts and then we quickly moved out of each other's way. As Danielle and I rounded the next corner, we bumped into our jolly old friend again. This time we laughed even harder, and finally he said that since he kept bumping into us he wanted to tell us a joke. The first joke was corny but so cute, and his charm worked it's magic on us as we laughed harder than what the joke itself was really worth. Then he asked us if he could tell us one more. "Are you church going people?" he asked. "Yes!" we said. He then asked us what God's first name was. We were stumped. Outside of God, I had no idea what to guess. He said, "It's Andy!". My daughter and I looked puzzled, and he went on to explain, "Andy walks with me... Andy talks with me..." It was so precious, and it gave us a good laugh. We needed that reminder that God is always with us, "walking with us, and talking with us". We're never alone, even when it feels so quiet, God is always there.

I told my daughter that I really believed that God had surrounded me with his angels  all week, and that I wouldn't be surprised if this jolly sweet man was an angel himself. My daughter was so excited remembering that I had shared all of this with her a few days before, and now she was witnessing an experience to call her own. This sweet man made us feel so good and so encouraged. He was just what we needed at the end of a long and challenging week. We went on to get our shopping done, and headed home on an angelic high, and both of us were praising God for His faithfulness. If this sweet jolly man wasn't an angel, he certainly was to us on this day. How much more should we value the opportunity to be someone's joy and encouragement--someone's reason to honor and praise God?! I want to make someone smile who needs it, or make someone laugh if they've been crying all day, or remind someone that God is with them even though they feel alone... I want to help carry someone through their path. I should be so fortunate to be mistaken for an angel. God bless that man, whoever he was! 

"Thank you God for bringing back the images of Jay that I hold so dear, and for preparing my heart to withstand them. You are my sole strength. Your angels have carried me, but you are my great caretaker who sets them on my path. I trust you, and I praise you wholly". Amen 

God is good...

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