I have ALL of the feelings rolling around inside me this afternoon, and it has left me edgy, shaky, and unsettled.
Usually that means there is something the Lord is wanting to speak to me. Over the years I've become slightly better at recognizing the signs of the Holy Spirit whispers, and marginally quicker at responding to those signs.
As only a mom truly can, I decided to multi-task during my time with the Lord. (Don't judge me, people. God knows the busyness that is my weeks right now.)
I have been planning to paint a couple bookshelves in my guest bedroom, so I prepared all of that, turned on some worship music, and sat down in the floor.
2 hours later, I emerged. Bookshelves steadily drying in their lovely new color, hands still shaking, heart sore, and yet peaceful, face tear-streaked.
Yes, indeed, the Lord had words to speak to me.
Now I shake for fear that I won't be able to adequately write them down.
My family lost a friend this week, in a motorcycle accident, suddenly and with no warning. His wife was critically injured in the crash, and his daughters, who are the friends I've had my ENTIRE life, are, of course, devastated.
Their daddy is gone. They didn't get to say goodbye. Their children, his grandchildren, will grow up only remembering his laugh and his hugs and his love for them.
There is nothing more agonizing. Nothing more terrifying. Nothing that saps you of the strength quite as completely. Grief is an all consuming monster sometimes. It yawns wide in front of us and lasts forever and makes everyone who faces it cower.
I remember, in my grief journey, wanting to die. I know that sounds extreme, and I never contemplated suicide, but I can recall opening my eyes some mornings, and thinking to myself, "If I were just gone, I wouldn't have to face this. And not facing this...it would be easier."
My heart is broken for my friends. I send them songs, and scriptures, and words of love, because I KNOW what they are feeling. But nothing can really, truly, help.
It's HELL to walk, and breathe, and eat, and speak. To do anything, ANYTHING, feels like being set on fire. I don't know how else to describe it. You want to be numb one minute, but you can't stop feeling shattered. You want to feel your emotions the next minute, but all you are is cold, dead, and lifeless inside.
All of this has been going around inside me as I pray for my friends today, and it has also sparked some reflection in me. Some reminders. Some perspective.
Those are all words that really just mean the Lord has been whispering to me, and I have heard Him.
We aren't guaranteed tomorrow, not on this earth. We aren't promised an easy, pain free life. We are, in fact, assured of the opposite.
"Here on earth you will have trials and sorrows...but take heart because I have overcome the world." John 116:33b
I could be taken from my children at any moment, the way my friends lost their father...I could be here on earth one heartbeat, and standing before the throne of God the next...
Eternity is so close. Its a breath. It's the time it takes to blink.
Why, why, why in the world do I struggle and strive and worry and fear and fret and CARE about the things that don't matter?
Why do I fuss at my children for building a fort with every single blanket in the linen closet?
Why do I stress about how much sugar they eat or the amount of TV they watch?
Why do I get pissed at my husband for forgetting to take out the trash?
Why do I get cranky when he asks me to do something for him that I don't want to do?
If I got in the car today, and was in an accident and died, would I want my family to remember that I made them clean up their fort and take the trash to the road?
What am I focusing on? What words do I want them to hear me saying in their heads if I'm not here to say them aloud?
"Kids," I called to them as the Lord asked me these questions, "Come here for a second."
They did. And I swallowed. "If I die...if I never get to say anything else to you on this earth...I want you to remember these things. I love you. I think you're smart and funny and and such special people. I'm so proud to be your mom. THAT'S what I want you to remember."
All four of them began to cry, and I was weeping as I spoke, but I had more.
"And the most important thing I want you to remember is this: love Jesus. Serve Him with your whole heart for all of your lives. I will be in heaven waiting for you, and we will be together again someday. So you just hold onto the Lord, and to each other. And remind each other that I love you, and that I spent my whole life being glad that I was blessed to be your mom."
There weren't questions of why I was saying these words to them. They know. They lived through their own grief journey when I lived through mine. They cried. And they hugged me. And they promised to remember my words, and to serve the Lord.
And then they went to play, their hearts touched and then sent back to the bliss of childhood.
But I am shaken. Still. Because how can we ever say the important things enough times?
How will Nate know that I think he has the best sense of humor, if I'm not here to tell him?
How will Gabe remember that I think he's the toughest little boy around, if I'm not around to remind him?
How will Clay recall how kind I think he is, and how caring, if I don't tell him every day?
How will Faith know that I find her lovely and smart and sweet, if I can't tell her?
My heart hurts, wanting to spare them the loss of my love. But...my heart is literally SWELLING with love for them, and no matter how much I tell them, it can never be enough.
All I know is, I'm going to try to say, every day, the things I want them to know when I'm not here to tell them anymore.
Because our time with them could be brief.
But...if we teach them the ways of the Lord, and if we lead them to His arms...some day, we will be in His arms together. And THAT'S what Jesus meant when He said "Take heart because I have overcome the world."
This life is a moment. God has given us, through His Son, the gift of eternity, endless moments to tell our loved ones the things in our hearts.
Let's live today like eternity is at hand.
Because it is.