As a grief recovery specialist, I sometimes ask the question to my clients, "If today were your last, what would you want others to know?" Many of us struggle with grief after loss because we don't grab on to the opportunities provided us to say what we need to say - often leaving so many things undone and incomplete. So, if today were my last, here's what I would want some of you to know . . .
I need you to know that despite how easy it's looked; it's been a real tough year. It's been especially tough to "Be still and know" but like so many things, God continues to help with that. During the past three hundred sixty-five days, I've been lied about, judged and frowned upon and also supported, encouraged and loved. Unknowingly, a preacher man helped me last week when he mentioned that caring too much about what other people think and whether or not they approve of us can become our god. Sadly, I have allowed the thoughts and voices of human beings, all flawed in some way just like me, to be much louder than that of the "I Am". The very One who created my existence and through Jesus provided the worst of us the hope of Heaven, I haven't always put first. I need you to know I have ashamedly served many wrong "gods" in my life and encourage you not to do the same.
There's no doubt for fifty-one years God has been right beside me. A long time back, particularly in my early twenties, I left God, but He has never left me - not once! I need you to know He simply allowed me the freedom to get some things wrong and in doing so, allowed me to draw closer to Him, to fall in love with Him so I could get some things right. I need you to know God loves without condition, and someday I hope to perfect this love as Paul describes it in Corinthians 1. This Jesus kind of love is not insecure, jealous or controlling. This kind of love allows each of us the freedom to choose to love God and therefore, want to be obedient and live a life of service to Him rather than one of service to the devil. I need you to know I have done both and can tell you which one is the best.
I need you to know there are those in this world who suffer because of their own sin or that of others, but some people suffer simply because God made them a certain way. Kind of like children in a second marriage who have no choice in being born but are often resented. Or because someone is compassionate. Or because someone is deemed attractive or handsome or kind or genuine. I need you to know some things looked upon as a blessing by others are often cruel and feel at times like a curse. Jealousy is very cruel. I need you to know some are going to dislike you when you are doing wrong, and even more are going to dislike you when you are doing right. I need you to know one of the best feelings in the world comes from knowing you've looked temptation in the eye and withstood it. And another of the best feelings in the world comes when you can walk with your head upright knowing that at one time in your life, you couldn't. I need you to know allowing God to win is always better than allowing Satan to win.
Even with all its hurt and sadness, I need you to know this past year has been the most peaceful, fulfilling and educational one single year of my entire life. I am eternally grateful for family and friends who've believed in me, both Christian and non-Christian (Funny thing that even those who don't believe in God still have Jesus-like qualities.) Believing myself worthy is a struggle, but I am getting there. I need you to know there are many examples in the Bible of people who didn't believe they were worthy because of their pasts, but God said they were and used them in a mighty way. I need you to know it matters not what humans say. They don't get to decide where you will spend eternity. God can work through anyone who is willing to be used and be a Jesus follower rather than a fan.
In my marriage, I need you to know I didn't get everything right. (I still don't.) Making the decision to leave always falls heavy on the one who decides to make it. I need you to know obedience doesn't always look like we think it will and doesn't always make sense to others. When we're on the outside looking in, it's easy to make assumptions. I knew there would be people who would find it easier to speak ill of me rather than come to me directly. Therefore, I need you to know it is your Christian duty to always go to the one with whom you have questions rather than everyone else. And I need you to know you don't have to know what a person's struggles are but, in their struggles, run to them rather than away from them. Grief itself in any form is hard enough. Don't treat them like they have a disease. Acknowledge them. Show compassion. For in doing so, you have a great opportunity to walk with them and show them traits of Jesus.
One person along the way stated, "I feel as though you are leaving because of me." And she was right. Leaving sometimes means showing others you believe in them or believing that in your absence they can become who God wants them to be and ultimately, see Heaven. It's giving them the opportunity to share what you can't when they are ready to share it. It's realizing and accepting that as much as you want something to be, sometimes it just can't be. There are lots of things in my life I wish I could change - hearts I wish I could change. I can't and you can't, but God can. The only person we can or should try to control is ourselves. Leaving sometimes means giving up control and allowing God to be God - getting out of His way and allowing the Holy Spirit to do a work we cannot do.
As a favorite prayer of mine states, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference." Loving and leaving sometime look like this and require you to do things you don't necessarily want to do. I need you to know two of the best things I've ever experienced in my life happened as a result of a marriage that never should have been. One, my best-friendship with Jesus and two, my son and his wife. And a grand-dog named "Bo". The other? Well, it wasn't a result of this marriage, but it was helping to provide a water well in Ghana.
I need you to know that in no way am I advocating anyone should divorce. Divorce is ugly, and this is a decision that should never be taken lightly. I know full well why God told us to marry once and stay together. He told us this for our benefit. Just as loving parents direct their children to do what's right and best for them, God tells us what to do and what not to do because we are His children, and He loves us so very much. He doesn't want to see us suffer the consequences of sin. I need you to know if I can use my past or my resources to help you in your walk with God, please come see me.
Regardless of whether we want it to or not, life happens to each of us and as I've heard it said, "We can't unscramble the eggs." A beautiful thing about Jesus? He met people where they were in life. So, here I am ready to move forward with Jesus. Ready to put the past to bed. Ready to let go of the hurt. Ready to get back to loving too much. For the first time in my life, ready to try doing a relationship the healthy way. Ready to be about my Father's business. Ready to share what He has done for me. Ready to continue serving others. Ready to get out of myself. Ready to help one person not to travel some of the paths I've traveled. Ready to turn my pain into purpose. For in doing so, it will have all been worth it. I need you to know how important it is not to avoid your pain but allow yourself to go right through it. I need you to know this is how you move forward with your grief.