This month has been a month of remembering. My mother passed away on February 17 last year. I had no idea that the year anniversary of this date and the weeks leading up to it would be so painful and difficult. Each day of this month leading up to the 17th brought back memories of what I was doing a year ago that same day.
The month started with Wes' birthday on the first. We had a grand time celebrating his birthday with a few of his friends coming over and having a Clone War's party. We then quickly moved onto Joshua's birthday on the 12th. Of course, this is when it started really getting difficult. From the 12th on, each day I became more painfully aware of what I was doing on that day. Hardest of all, are the things I regret not doing. As I have relived each day, especially the day at the hospital on the day she died, I am bombarded with images that I wish I could erase. Oh, they are memories that I wished weren't there! The biggest word, though, that keeps going through my head is: REGRET.
-regret that I made the decision to go as planned on a trip to celebrate my oldest's son's birthday the Friday before she went in the hospital. I will always wonder if I had chosen to go to Indiana and be with my mom instead of going to Nashville if things would have turned out differently...
-regret that I asked the doctor a question that resulted in him taking her off the ventilator when he did...
-regret that I let the busyness of life keep me from going and spending more time than I did with my mom...why didn't I spend more time?
-regret that I couldn't handle watching her gasp and struggle to breathe and didn't stay in the room the whole time because it was so unbearable to watch. Oh, how I wish I had stayed right beside her now. Now I feel like I abandoned her.
Over this past year, the Lord has flooded me with his grace, joy, love and peace. He has healed my heart from so much of this--or so I thought. But then, as the year anniversary of these days came, all of those painful feelings resurfaced again. It has been like walking through it all over again, except this time, I feel all alone. Everyone around me is going on with their normal lives while I am stuck in this sad place with these sad memories. People want you to just move on and focus on the happy memories and not the sad. I suppose it is uncomfortable for them if you don't. Yes, focus on the good. Sure, that sounds good. I sure do wish I could do that. But it's just not as easy as all that. I can't just stuff all that down and ignore it. Neither can I stand still and allow it to keep me immobile and buried. There is no way around it. No, I must walk through it.
While no person can understand the loneliness, the pain, the sadness, God CAN. And He can use His people to allow beams of sunshine on these cloudy, gray days. He has done this for me. And those things are what have gotten me through these very dark days. A starbucks card from my neighbor on the 17th touched my heart. A knock on the door on the morning of that day--a friend bringing me a hug and my favorite candy meant the world to me. My daughter rallying our boys to make a card for me, with her writing 'You can do it!' along with 'have a good day. The Lord will guide you threw and threw' brought a smile to my face (and the smarties taped on the back of it--well that was an instant mood lifter!). The delivery of a bright flower on a bleak day...a listening ear...watching our kids so Eric and I could have a date...these have been rays of light and have kept the loneliness and sadness from taking over. (Sidenote: if you have a thought to do something for someone, do it! Don't dismiss it as something too small and insignificant. That small thing might be the thing that keeps that person going. I am preaching to myself too!)
The devotions on the 17th and 18th in My Utmost His Highest seemed directly sent from God. The one on the 17th was called 'Taking the Initiative Against Depression' based on 1 Kings 19:5 "Arise and eat"-- here is what it said:
'The angel in this passage did not give Elijah a vision, or explain the Scriptures to him, or do anything remarkable. He simply told Elijah to do a very ordinary thing, that is, to get up and eat. If we were never depressed, we would not be alive--only material things don't suffer depression. If human beings were not capable of depression, we would have no capacity for happiness and exaltation. There are things in life that are designed to depress us; for example, things that are associated with death. Whenever you examine yourself, always take into account your capacity for depression.
When the Spirit of God comes to us, He does not give us glorious visions, but He tells us to do the most ordinary things imaginable. Depression tends to turn us away from the everyday things of God's creation. But wherenever God steps in, His inspiration is to do the most natural, simple things--things we would never have imagined God was in, but as we do them we find Him there. The inspiration that comes to us in this way is an initiative against depression. But we must take the first step and do it in the inspiration of God . If, however, we do something simply to overcome our depression, we will only deepen it. But when the Spirit of God leads us instinctively to do something, the moment we do it the depression is gone. As soon as we arise and obey, we enter a higher plane of life.'
The devotion on the 18th was titled 'Taking the Initiative Against Despair' based on Matthew 26:46 "Rise, let us be going":
In the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples went to sleep when they should have stayed awake, and once they realized what they had done it produced despair. the sense of having done something irreversible tends to make us despair. We say, "Well, it's all over and ruined now; what's the point in trying anymore." If we think this kind of despair is an exception, we are mistaken. It is a very ordinary human experience. Whenever we realize we have not taken advantage of a magnificient opportunity, we are apt to sink into despair. But Jesus comes and lovingly says to us, in essence, "Sleep on now. That opportunity is lost forever and you can't change that. But get up, and let's go on to the next thing." In other words, let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him.
There will be experiences like this in each of our lives. We will have times of despair caused by real events in our lives, and we will be unable to lift ourselves out of them. The disciples, in this instance, had done a downright unthinkable thing--they had gone to sleep instead of watching with Jesus. But our Lord came to them taking the spiritual initiative against their despair and said, in effect, "Get up and do the next thing." If we are inspired by God, what is the next thing? It is to trust Him absolutely and to pray on the basis of His redemption. Never let the sense of past failure defeat your next step.'
So, here I stand. I stand amidst sadness and despair. But I am trudging forward in faith. I am arising and doing those ordinary things of life--this is keeping me from sitting immobile in the muck and mire. And I am not dwelling on those things in the past that I cannot change. I am letting God's grace and mercy wash over me each morning and looking towards the future. With God's strength, I will overcome.
'Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.' Isaiah 43:18, 19