So many times since that cold January 26, 1991 morning, I have been able to see God working through our loneliness and pain. I had always heard that God will not allow more than you can bear, and through this journey, I can testify to the truth of that statement.
The journey we’ve taken through grief did not hit with full impact initially. We were not aware of the mountain ahead of us. As I look down through the years, I can see that we were surrounded by a protective shroud for a while. As we have climbed through each new level, we deal with a different aspect of the grief, but there is a thicker foundation created with each step up this mountain.
One early morning in late August, I was preparing for the day, when I saw all the neighborhood kids gather for the school bus. I had forgotten it would be the first day of school. I watched from my window as the little ones boarded, and I saw some of Ben’s preschool classmates clambering up the stairs of the bus. I felt as though I had been running full speed and had hit an unseen wall. I don’t know if I can yet describe the impact that sight had on me, but I was reeling.I then called my mom. I told her that I saw the kids get on the bus. She responded like such a super mom. She created a way for me to shed some of my pain safely by saying, “Oh, Honey, I’m sorry. Ben wasn’t with them.” Then she did the most healing thing. She cried with me.
Sometimes a good rain shower can wash away a lot of crud. Romans 8:26-27, says about prayer: “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” (NKJV) Prayer has become my lifeline, and God has become my Abba.
There were times that my prayer was simply, “Oh, God.” and this verse confirmed for me that my Father made provisions for my humanness and my pain. When my children are hurt, they know they can crawl up in my lap and whimper. They know I don’t need an explanation right away, and they aren’t looking for words of wisdom during these times. They desire comforting hugs and kisses, and sympathy. If there is a bonkin’ (i.e. owie) my children know they will be held, cleaned up and a soothing salve applied.
I realized that God works much the same with me. Because He is my Father, I can go to Him with my hurts and just whimper. When there are bonkins He’ll apply the Balm of Gilead to create a Heavenly healing.Sometimes the balm He applied took the form of a friend who had the courage to talk to me about Ben and what they miss about him. The summer after Ben died, my friend Chris sat beside me after church was over, and started talking about the cute things she remembered Ben had done during the Christmas program. She and I sat there laughing and crying together. How that healing salve flowed that morning!
Sometimes the healing salve took the form of a friend who was willing to be persistent enough to cut through some of my pride. A few months after Ben died, I found 17 rolls of film that needed to be developed. When I received the photos, I went through them, seeing two years of Ben’s life unfold before my eyes. When I finished putting the photos in an album, I felt as though my world was going to crumble. I just sat down and prayed, “Oh, God, help me.” Not much time elapsed before the phone rang. My friend Jill wanted to talk with me. When I answered, she asked, “How are you doing?” Of course, I answered, “Oh, just fine,” as cheerily as I could. She paused for a moment, and then said, “Look. God told me to call. What’s wrong?” I poured out my heart to her, and once again, the healing salve began to flow.
Sometimes that healing salve was God Himself. There have been times when He has made Himself so close to me that it was as though I was being held in His very own arms. It’s been a long time since I have crawled up into my earthly father’s lap, but my Abba always has room. Psalm 17:8 says: “Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings.” (NKJV) What a blessed place to be!
Whatever form of healing the Lord has used, I have learned that honesty is the best policy when walking through grief. The times I have tried to bandage the pain myself and be strong are the times I have slipped into depression. When I have been honest with myself about the feelings churning within me and I ask my Heavenly Father for His divine help, I always find in one way or another that I am once again being anointed with that precious balm.
There is an old hymn that says, “He never has failed me yet. I have proven Him true, what He says He will do, He never has failed me yet.” How true that has been in my life.