Yesterday and weeks before Irma was a storm in my heart. Many of us are facing our own storms. Unrelated to rising waters. Unrelated to winds that take off a roof. Storms that affect our lives that many know nothing of.
I posted the following on Facebook yesterday.....
Sometimes in the middle of your storm...
"Be still and know that I am God."
You see my storm has nothing to do with winds, rains, and hurricanes. My storm is facing new realities in mothering. My storm is navigating the hearts of my children as we face new realities for our future. My storm is watching the enemy of deceit, lies, and division affect our family. And when the storms comes in wind, rain and hurricanes, you hunker down for the damage that is pending.
What about the storms in life that affect you and devastate you? Storms that gave no time for hunkering down and being prepared. How is the tragedy of deceit, the tragedy of lies and the path of evil going to help any one of us hunker down and be ready? Maybe you are facing your hardest of hard. It is unexpected and you have no clue how to hunker down or even navigate it.
I cried a lot yesterday. I looked up "grief" and the stages of grief when there is a loss or tragedy in your life. If you are close to my circle of friends and reading this, you know my story. The reality is that my story is no different than your story. The details are not what is important. What is important is how we handle the storms of life. How do we face the grief? How do we face new realities of everyday life? In asking these very questions of myself this past week I could only come up with this, "Be still and know that I am God."
I thought something was wrong with me because every time someone asked, "How are you doing?" I fall into a heap of tears. I thought something was wrong with me as I look back on the past years and think what I could have done differently? And then facing family and friends and trying to muster up enough joy to show up for them. To be able to encourage them and give them hope. As the leader of my home that is important. Yet this storm is rocking my internal boat of life.
And then these words of hope. "Be still and know that I AM God."
It's very hard to convince anyone that God is really in the middle of our storms. Right there. We tend to think that God should step in and make everything all better. Like His might and power could toss hurricane Irma back out to see sparing Floridians of disaster. Or God could show up in a court room and cast the evils that fill the room out. And yet we watch the storms envelope us and wonder, where the heck is God in any of this. I know I have cried out to God for months to change the trajectory of this situation. And it appears He has no answers for me and the devastation continues. And all I get from God is to simply "be still".
There is pain and grief. There are unanswered questions. There are lots of tears. Today is Sunday. I am home from church. I did not want to face people and answer the same questions over and over. I just wanted to be still. I wanted to sit with a friend over coffee and allow the outward process of grief. She listened, two states over. A phone call of a dear friend who knows my children, knows my heart and knows these days are hard. She asked me hard questions. She allowed me to outward process it all.
Grief 101-1: Do not isolate yourself and stop existing.
I have shown up for my children. I know they are hurting and struggling. I have shown up for work. I have shown up at the dinner table. I have shown up. Even at the grocery store when the smiling checker asks me how I am doing I break down and cry. I am okay with that because I am showing up at the grocery store. I embrace the memory of who I was before all of this. Generally happy, joy filled, and loving the little things of life. And I have to remind myself every single day that THIS is who I am. And this is a storm that will soon pass. Practice all over again that joy and that happy person. Accept that a storm has come and God did not leave or abandon you. Because HE has shown up and prepared me long before I knew these days. (That's another blog series coming.) God shows up in people everyday. A coffee invitation later in the week. I wanted to say, "no" but I am not going to isolate myself and stop existing so I said yes. God showed up today by putting ME on the heart of a dear friend to call. God knew what I needed today. I did not want to give another breath to this storm, but grieving requires an outward process. In that outward process we learn more about ourselves, about the storms we are in and how to better navigate. Today this friend was the ears and voice of God. Using her to remind me of who I am. Using her to remind me of the mother I am and using her to pour wisdom and hope. God is a God of hope and wisdom. "Be still and know that I am God."
Grief 101-2: Read blogs and journals on grief.
I have never experienced this kind of pain in my heart. Like actual physical pain over my chest cavity above my physical heart. My heart hurts. I really thought this cannot be normal. I though I was not handling this storm well. I have cried tears, not been able to eat, and could not sleep. I thought of the should haves and could have's. Beating myself up. One decision in July 2016 to help a child turned into a storm I was not prepared for. All the nights awake and asking God the why and the how and then one night a blog post. A story and journey of another person's loss and grief. I thought something was wrong with me. Only to read story after story. Then to read medical journals of the stages of grief. I realized that I am actually very normal in my grief process. It felt empowering and it felt very good to know that everything I am experiencing is textbook grief in medical journals. Last night I finally slept solid. Almost 12 hours straight. Read!!! Learn about what it means to experience grief. Face the grief. And be okay with your grief. And then .......
"Be still and know that I am God."
"Be still and know that I am God."
Grief 101-3: It's hard to let go.
There are important relationships that may have changed during this storm. There are important relationships that you had to let go of. In the middle of your storm decisions are made that you may look back on and regret. I have pleaded with myself to just let go because no one told me to not make important decisions in the middle of such a storm. And it's hard to let go. Love and caring and then changes happening all around you. Accept that it is HARD to let go. I spent the morning texting with my daughter who reminded me of the year I have had. She reminded me of the height of emotions in your hardest days and it's okay. "It will get easier mom." It's hard to think it will get easier, but it will. And again God's heart on this, "Be still and know that I am God."
Grief 101-4: Thank God for the people in your life.
Today is a new day. I am giving myself permission to take one day at a time. Today is the first day in over a year I stayed behind. I did not want to show up today. The people in my life know this. It's okay. I have people in my life who will accept today. Those same people will pull me into showing up when I can not show up on my own. I have people. Thanking God for ALL the people in my life who have walked with me in the storm and stayed the course with me when I did not know what to do. I have told my family and friends to please accept my combustible tears that come unexpectedly. It is all part of the grief process. I can be with these people any day or time and they love me, even in the storm. These people remind me who I am. Pull me into activities, play cribbage with me, invite me to their homes and allow me to cry and process this grief. They share my tears and my pain and they love my family unconditionally. God is in this. He is using YOU every single day in the way you are caring, loving, praying and allowing our family to walk through this storm. It is through the people God has surrounded me with that I truly can, "Be still and know that I am God." The truest of words EVER.
Grief 101-5: Everyone has a different storm. It's not all about you.
The hardest part about grief and storms is that you feel you are the only one in the world to experience such pains. There is loss, there are storms, there is devastation. Honestly if you met me in person. My hair and make-up may be done. My clothes clean and pressed. My shoes matching my handbag. I am that next person in line at the grocery store who appears to have it together. And it's that thought alone that reminds me that the person next to me may be experiencing really hard stuff, too. One thing I love about being with strangers is I can deflect the conversations away from me and ask questions about them. Never having to share my story again. Remember also that there are good things happening with your friends and family. Do NOT rob them of their joy. This might be a moment where you think, "Be still and know that I am God." More like, just be quiet right now and embrace where the other person is at.
Grief 101-6: Have much GRACE for people.
In general people mean well. People want to help you. People are concerned and care. And people will come along with the best of intentions. And in the best of intentions they will do things that make absolutely no sense at all due to the simple fact that we really do not know what we want or need in the middle of a storm. AND in a time when you are broken, grieving, and wading through the storm take joy in knowing that people love and care. The reality is people mean well and want to help you. Tell people exactly what you need from them. I am guilty of not knowing how to do this. Yet in this storm I have learned to ask. "Be still and know that I am God." Here these words that God is the God of all of this and HE will send people to come alongside to help.
Grief 101-7: Psalm 51:10
"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."
I am no Bible scholar but it's pretty clear that God knew there would need to be a renewal. A renew of steadfastness purity of my heart. In the many sleepless nights God met me in scripture and Word. Reminders on a daily basis. Renewing my heart daily back to HIM. Back to His promises,His hope, and His joy. Reset the internal system. Daily!!! I know God is real. I do not have to ask or read or find Him. He has given me peace through ALL the tears, the messy and the hard. His very name is a calm in the storm.
I read the following passage on the 46th day of reading a Psalm a day. I read...
Psalm 46:10. I wrote it in my journal and I have read it over and over. And it's the very passage that inspired this blog post.
"He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
For a girl who is on the go, this passage struck me. I did not know how to pray anymore more words. My tears and broken heart were overwhelming me. I decided to just read out loud a Psalm a day. This passage took hold of my heart. Today my 13 year old son Eric and I are reading out loud a Psalm a day. We are on chapter 5. We are doing this together after I shared how God spoke to my heart on hard stuff. Eric asked if I could do that with him. And we are doing it together.
Our storms are very hard. Grief is hard. Knowing that there is a God who can carry us through every single storm is the only way I know how to get through this. I pray today that one single person could step into the storm with confidence knowing that God is with you. Be still. Be quiet and allow God to pour into you the hope, wisdom and peace He has in this storm.