Friday, May 30, 2014

Fix My Eyes

Find faith in the battle
Stand tall but above it all
Fix my eyes on you
-Fix My Eyes, For King and Country

When Alif was sick, my faith was strong. When he was at death's door, my faith was strong. When I spent what appeared to be my last night with him, and I said my goodbyes, told him what I loved about him, laughed about fond memories of our life together, thanked him for our four amazing children, my faith still remained strong. I wasn't angry at God. I wasn't disappointed. I was fearful, for sure, about how my children would fare, what our lives would look like, but I felt so tenderly held in my Father's hands that I had no room to doubt His will.

When my Mom died, I fell through. God didn't let me go, that much I know, but I just became such a broken person. Almost a year and a half later, I'm still broken. It's hard to put into words though, even within myself, so I really don't talk about the struggles I'm having in my faith. It's not that I'm angry with God. I'm severely disappointed, desperately lonely and very, very sad. I keep telling myself to hold onto my Father, to talk to Him, read His Words to me, to lean into Him to ride out this storm, but I'm just so tired. I can't work up having faith in His plan, I just can't, and I have been completely unable to figure out why. WHY can I not do the very things I know will help so much? 

Today I was driving and the above-referenced song played on the radio. It's like a bit of advice from the current "me" to the younger one. I absolutely love it and when I heard it before, I thought it would make such a neat graduation song for one of my children. Today, as I sang through the chorus, speakers vibrating with the force of volume, I found myself suddenly in tears. God showed me such a clear picture.

It is like I am holding onto an old, dirty, worn rope, fiercely clinging to . . . my Mom. Fixing my eyes on Him means letting her go, little by little. Every time I release that hold on her, it's as if the grief wound is opened, and my heart bleeds. I know I can trust Him. I know He is good and kind and patient and that above all, He loves me. But my Mom is what I knew in such a tangible way. If I could step outside myself, I would see that letting go of my grip on my Mom would not be an awful, scary fall, because God's hands are right there to catch me, but my flesh just wants what I had. 

It's not a solution, neatly packaged, but when God whispers to my heart, it's a big reminder of how much He cares.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mother's Day II

Last year, Mother's Day was a living nightmare. I didn't know how to act, how to be, how to breathe. I literally felt crazy. This year, I just feel sad. We learned about grief in class, and my teacher said that when people are really busy and take grieving in bits and pieces, as they have time, the grieving process lasts longer. Well, I am truly thankful that I had to pull on my shoes and get to school immediately, because I might have really been one of those people who can't get out of bed if I hadn't had somewhere I simply must be.
Amazingly, it isn't that often any more that I feel truly sidelined by my grief. It's been a year and four months, and I still cry a few times a week, still miss my Mom more than I can explain, but I am no longer drowning. Sometimes I really get hit, though, and think to myself, "how will I survive this for half of my life?"
I wish I could talk to my Mom about how she felt when Grandma died. I know she was sad, but it had been a long time coming, and Grandma was relatively old.  I remember her being sad, but I don't remember her being devastated. I wonder if she was, and just carried on like I am now. I wonder if, in her quiet moments, she wept and felt lonely and wondered if she would ever be the same.
I really never knew how much of my identity was in my Mom. It's interesting how I didn't know that I saw myself through her eyes so much. It's like she made me funny and ambitious and patient because she believed me to be those things.
I think about how she would want me to be. I can just picture it - she'd want me to be in counseling, to know that it's okay to be sad. She would know when the next big event is happening and make sure we got there, whether it was a Beth Moore conference or a special concert. We'd have been on a couple of little trips by now for some reason or another, lying side by side in a hotel somewhere, laughing until we cried and eating everything we shouldn't.
I sometimes look at the picture of my little family at her funeral reception, scrutinizing it to see how much my babies have changed. It's not terribly noticeable yet, but in another couple of years, they'll all be completely different people, and I'll grieve again for the them she never knew. My kids will earn awards at Awana, graduate 8th grade, get their driver's licenses, and I'll celebrate those things without her. It's very lonely.
There's a big learning process coming. I can feel it. I am going to be learning to see myself through my Father's eyes instead of through my mom's. He knows me better than she ever could have, and that's saying a lot. He wants even more for my life than she ever could have, and that too is saying a lot. Soon I will be learning to press further into Him, to really find comfort there under His wing. There's a hope in that, and that gets me through some pretty dark days.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Malachi's 16

Dear Malachi,
Sixteen years ago today, you made me a mommy! Daddy and I were so excited, nervous and clueless about becoming parents. None of our friends had children yet, and it just felt like this huge new adventure. It WAS! You brought out a love in us we never knew possible. Those first weeks, even though I had you sleeping in a bassinet at the end of our bed, I put the baby monitor right in there with you and the speaker right next to my ear, just so I could hear you breathing. It felt like you were a part of me - because you were!
I remember those first few weeks, I wondered if you were happy, because you just stared at me with a blank expression on your face. Well duh, babies don't learn to smile for a few weeks! When you did, and that big smile beamed up at me, and those blue eyes sparkled, it was like I'd just made the greatest discovery of all time. Everything you did impressed me.
I remember, too, how easily everyone fell in love with you. Grandpa Payne came over every day after work to carry you around for a while, and you'd always fall asleep with your fuzzy little head against his chest. Papa would come rock you on his lunch hour. Grandma Baldwin could not WAIT to show you off to her coworkers - and buy you every darling baby outfit she could get her hands on. Auntie Megan came to babysit and when you pooped, she said it smelled like freshly baked bread. I'm telling you, we just adored you.
And you know? For the first decade of your life, I think a part of me kind of dreaded your teenage years. People are always talking about how hard the teenage years are, so I wondered how you would BE. Plus, I knew that as the teen years approached, my time with you at home with me would grow shorter. And I couldn't bear the thought. At ALL.
But guess what, son. We're halfway through your teen years already, and you truly become more delightful with every passing year. I *love* your teen years. You're funny - witty - smart, handsome, capable, intelligent, dedicated, hard-working.
I always wondered what it would feel like when my children started to become my friend - when the parenting role would start to change a little bit more into friendship. I'll tell you what it feels like. It feels like when I'm having a bad day, and I'm upset, and you're kind. And I look over and think, "that kid is honestly one of my best friends." That's what it's like.
But I still dread that my time with you at home is growing shorter. I still tear up when I think that someday you won't live here. I guess we'll deal with that when the time comes, huh?
For now, my son, Happy Birthday. You are one of the biggest blessings of my entire life, and I love you so very much.