Monday, May 1, 2017

Pondering the future

This post started out an entirely different thing than it ended up being. I wrote it and than had to let it sit for a while so I could think some more. I had been pondering how sometimes when you’ve been through something unimaginable it has a lasting impact in unexpected ways. I found myself wondering if I could ever be truly joyful again; if I could look forward to the future with anticipation and excitement instead of fear and worry after a long season of loss. But as I was typing a funny thing happened. I was reminded of God’s faithfulness in it all.


Loss is a tricky thing. Even when you think you’ve processed it all, finally, and are feeling like you may actually be in control of yourself once more, it shows itself again and makes you realize that maybe you will never actually be over it.

In our years together, my husband and I have had our fair share of hardships. In our early years of raising babies, we struggled against our past; stumbling along blindly in our desire to be good parents. To do it differently. To be better. We felt the weight of the absence of the people we needed the most in that season. It was in those lows that God reminded us that He is our heavenly father, and His love is so much greater than what we were seeking here on earth. Throughout those years we faced hardship and heartbreak, disappointment and uncertainty. But we did it together, always together, and we found such joy in raising the three amazing daughters we were blessed with.

In December of 2011 one of our greatest dreams was realized. We bought a home in a quiet neighborhood, smaller than we were used to, but absolutely perfect for our family. We praised God for hearing our cries and answering our prayers. I will always remember the feeling the day we got the keys. We were ecstatic. We had turned a corner, and things were glorious. As we settled in we found peace like we hadn’t experienced in a very long time. We were truly genuinely happy in a giddy kind of way. Our girls were beautiful and healthy. Our marriage was good. We had an amazing new home. We sat in the back yard and were overcome with pride that we owned land. And trees! Life was so good, and we were content.

On October 25, 2012 my brother Joshua committed suicide. In an instant, life was changed forever. Lives were changed forever. As I sit here trying to find the words to describe the hours and days and weeks and months and years after, I know there are none. Losing a family member to suicide is something you cannot even fathom if you haven’t experienced it firsthand. If you have, and you know, I am so sorry. The years between then and now were filled with loss and confusion and sadness and grief. There were social workers and lawyers and ugly words and so much hurt exchanged as we wrestled to figure out where Josh’s daughter belonged. She was with us for three years, and when she went home to be with her mom my family mourned another loss.

While I wasn’t looking, my girls who were on the cusp of being big kids grew up. While I lost myself in the grief of losing my brother, I missed being fully present in their last precious moments of being babies. Being a mom has always been my most important priority, and to this day I still feel the loss of not savoring those moments we will never get back.

Last year my husband lost his father. As we sat in his hospital room during his final moments, God spoke a powerful message to me about loss and death. My brother’s death was unexpected and violent. I lost my faith for a while, and God let me wrestle it out until I was ready to hear Him. The love in that room, and the beauty and peace in my father-in-law’s final moments taught me a new truth about death. It was a privilege to be allowed to be in that moment. As I watched my husband wrestle through his grief, God taught me a new lesson on what it means to be a wife.

When you are going through a hard season of losses and chaos, it feels like it will always be like that. I am certain it was only through God’s grace and His tremendous love for us that we made it through that season. God brought so much beauty from our ashes that I can’t help but be absolutely sure He was there through it all with us.

Now I find myself pondering our lives once more. We’ve been feeling like our old selves for some time, and it seems like we may have actually come through that hard season. My husband has just started a new job that will pay him more, and afford him more opportunities for advancement. We are excited at this new opportunity. We will pay off most of our major debt this year, which is a really big deal for us. Now that our kids are a bit older, I find myself entertaining chasing dreams I’ve been too afraid to consider. It seems we have turned yet another corner, and life is about to be good again. The possibilities leave me both excited and afraid.

The last time we felt like life was good and were truly happy, something awful happened. That awful thing was followed by a season of loss and mourning. It’s easy to let my fear take control of me, easy to let my mind equate happiness with loss. But as I work through these thoughts, I look back at the times in my life when my fear was really my lack of faith. What am I not trusting God for in this season? Instead of thinking I shouldn’t dare to be happy, I will remind myself that God is faithful, and He is working all things out for our good. I will remember, and I will choose joy and not fear.

And you should, too.


It was in that last paragraph that my mind refocused. Instead of lamenting the fact that I was unable to be positive about the future because of all the loss, I was reminded of the ways God showed up in it. He reminded me to look back at all the moments and remember how He was there. Remember feeling the depth of His love when I was longing for the presence of our parents. Remember the way I felt His peace settle over me the day after my brother died. Remember how He drew me back when I was finished wrestling with my faith. Remember the beautiful way he eased my heart about death.

Set a stone in this moment and remember.

1 comment:

Debra Boucher said...

April, this is beautiful!

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