We lost our grandfather this past week. While I wasn’t very deeply close to him, my family and I felt the loss together. I felt the pain for my mother who lost her father. He was a blessed man for having the opportunity to kiss every child, every grandchild and every great-grandchild goodbye. We all surrounded him as he took his last breaths. I sang a hymn of peace over him along with my mom and dad who are both blessed with beautiful voices. And then we sat. We sat and watched grandpa slowly die. We watched the monitors as the numbers went down. We watched his body grasp for air until it had no more. I think that was the most somber moment I have ever experienced in my life. I had never seen somebody die. Or have I?…
I couldn’t help but feel the reality of loss in that moment. The reality that we have people and then we lose them. I thought about my husband. (Well, my ex-husband…I’m still getting used to that). He came to my mind as I watched my grandpa lose his life. And I wondered – did my husband even see it coming? Here is my grandpa who knowingly experienced the last hours of his life. He knew it was coming. He said his detailed goodbyes to every child and prepared himself to walk into his death. Did my husband see his own “death” coming? Did he notice that I was slowly watching him die? I was watching the monitors of his life. I saw him slowly deteriorate and there was nothing I could do. The world was eating away at every bit of life in him until death (disguised by “adventure” or “finding himself”) was all he knew.
Adultery was no longer a flaw or something to be looked down on or mourned…it was an excuse that the world allowed him because he was “being honest with himself.” God only knows how different this “death” would look to others if it was a woman’s arms he walked into. (The utter unfairness of that is a whole ‘nother blog post).
I experienced the deepest of loss in October of 2013. I know physical death is the highest form of loss. But when a man who was your “every day” walks straight into his death, their is no deeper form of loss than to lose “all you’ve ever known” to walk into the unknown – alone.
I feel LOST.
I visited a new church this weekend. All I’ve ever known is my church. The church where I played dolls in the pews while my father led the worship team practice; the pews where I cuddled up in my sweats at 6am morning prayer meetings with the college interns; the platform where I learned to plug a microphone in and discovered my voice; the pews where I held my first born with my arm warmly pressed to my husband’s arm next to mine; the church where I have always belonged. Sometimes I wish the church knew how to embrace the suffering. Sometimes I wish they knew that distance doesn’t help. I wish they knew that when life hits and you can’t devote the hours that a young student can…that doesn’t mean you’re useless. I am all the more useful because this valley is the closest I have ever been to this savior they want to glorify. But they don’t see it. They see a situation that doesn’t fit within their box of solutions. And it’s uncomfortable.
It’s embarrassing to be the new girl. This is where my husband’s ‘death’ has led me to. I no longer belong. I’m the visitor. I’m in the back pew. I’m the one who doesn’t know where the bathroom is. I’m the single mom who needs help. I’m the one who’s heart no one in the room knows. Is she a christian? Does she need a small group? Has she ever been to church before? The shame.
This new pastor gave a sermon on understanding why God came to Earth. Not just to die for us…but for us to experience Him; to know Him firsthand. He wanted us to know what He would do in the circumstances we face. He wanted us to know what He would do when everything you’ve ever known is now in shambles; When you can’t seem to fit your traditions into the jigsaw puzzle that is your life now. When religious theology no longer helps bear or categorize divorce because now, it’s your actual life. When the one who “came out of the closet” is no longer a statistic you can brush off with a sermon, it’s your precious husband who came out, and now he’s gone. What do you do with that now? What will your traditions and rules do for your life now? What is God going to do with this? What does His grace look like here? Does it look anything like what we’ve conjured up for the last thirty years of my life?
I had a dream last night that my ex-husband asked me if I was ready to attend an event where he would also be present. Basically, I was asked if I was ready to ‘suck it up.’ But I refused. I was not ready to be in the same room with him and bear the fact that I no longer belonged to him.
I’m not sure where I belong anymore. And it’s the scariest feeling in the world. I know I belong to my God, because frankly, it seems to be the only place I belong these days. But I’m no longer the picket fence wife. I’m no longer the worship team regular. I’m no longer the young family that fits into the young family small group. I don’t know where I fit, and I yearn for Him to place me somewhere – soon. Very soon. Because this shameful isolation is hard.
This journey is lonely. And I can’t say it’s anyone’s fault that it’s lonely. Most people can’t help that they just don’t get it. But if writing is the only way to find others who get it…than that’s what I’ll continue to do.
And of course, God places this passage in my devotional this morning. Glad to see He’s paying attention to my heart:
“Instead of shame you shall have double honor, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. There in their land they shall possess double, everlasting joy shall be theirs.”
Instead of your shame, you shall have double honor. My friend, for everything that you have LOST get ready for God’s restoration. Expect to receive double and even more for every trouble.
Excerpt from Joseph Prince’s devotional, “Destined To Reign“