As I glanced out the front window and watched Jackson Willms and his care aide make their way up the...
Death of a loved one.
None of us gets a free pass in life. We all find ourselves in situations where we wish we could have a new beginning. “If only” we could have a do-over.
When our twin sons, Jordan and Evan, died in an inexplicable tobogganing accident, I found myself in this wishful place. Tragedy imposed upon me a disorientation that I could not shake. “If only” I could have a new beginning. “If only” the situation could be reversed.
Bereavement is a huge life-adjustment, but there are so many other kinds of losses: divorce, forced retirement, breakdown of a friendship, a shocking health diagnosis, or loss of independence.
When unwelcome life-changes occur, grief becomes an intrusive and confusing companion. So many of us have disappointments, regrets, hurts, and setbacks.
How do I get a fresh start when my circumstances won’t change?
I would propose three essentials:
Make a choice.
Keep your eyes on the finish line.
I am going to cover these three essentials in this mini-series starting with taking inventory.
To take inventory is to measure the past. I have found it extremely helpful to itemize and lay out my realities before our loving heavenly Father. There’s no pretense with God!
After the accident, I itemized many of my concerns to God:
- Who am I now? It feels like my identity is gone.
- Surely, this will be the end of me!
- I feel so ill-equipped to deal with my new reality.
- How do I relate to God in a new and unfamiliar way? My communication with God feels like it’s at ground zero—so few words to express my heart pain.
- Our family dynamics are permanently changed.
- I’m entering the ultimate test of my faith. Will my faith stand up under these extreme circumstances?
Perhaps you can relate to some of these themes. Know that you are not alone. Know that your Heavenly Father hears you as you take inventory of your situation and lay it out before Him. Know that He weeps with you, and He longs to companion with you.
So the first essential is to take inventory. The second essential is to make a choice, a series of choices.
Things from our past inform who we are today. Ultimately, the question is “what am I going to do about it?”
Many of us find ourselves dealing with tremendous fear, anger, anxiety, or disillusionment around situations that are out of our control.
Making a choice involves admitting that I need help. It also means that I want to start to do things differently! How am I going to live NOW?
The day our boys died, I had a terrifying realization: there were going to be some very significant choices ahead for me. I had no idea exactly what those decisions would be. I knew that if I went into default mode, that in itself would be a decision—one that had the potential to ruin me. I would really need to dig in, with God’s help.
Choosing total dependency on God
Corrie Ten Boom, a WW2 concentration camp survivor spoke a truth that really helped me cope:
“When a train goes through a dark tunnel, and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer!”
Well, I did not need convincing it was dark in the tunnel, that’s for sure! There were days it felt like grief was my only companion, but in faith, I made a choice. When our boys died, I purposed in my heart to trust the Engineer—through the darkness and the intense emotions—even on the days when I did not understand or feel anything. Now when I look back, I realize that He was beside me through it all.
Until next week, I leave you with some homework! Grab a pen and paper. Take inventory as you reflect on your past. Vulnerably, lay it all out to the Lord. Start to reflect on the choices you are making. Are you choosing to depend on God?
Stay tuned! Next week I will share many more choices I had to make, as I wrestled with my circumstances, and in my third post I’ll address the last essential of keeping our eyes on the finished line.
Be encouraged. There can be a fresh infusion of hope in the midst of your own situation.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13, NIV).”
Written by Shauna Caldwell