Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Eight Belles

Why am I doing this? Why relive it all now, just as life is beginning to show some signs of normalcy again? It's a fair question.

A couple of years ago I was at home on a Saturday afternoon alone with not much to do, a rare treat in my world. It was Kentucky Derby Day that particular Saturday, and I had settled into my spot on the couch to enjoy the event. I love to watch the specials on the horses before the race itself, and this year was no different. A filly would be running in the Derby that year, somewhat of an oddity, and before the day was over that little girl would have won it all. Tragedy quickly replaced celebration, however, when sweet Eight Belles had to be put down on the track because of a devastating injury she incurred after crossing the finish line. If you know me at all...you know I lost my mind over that horse. I sat on my couch and wept...and wept...and wept. Hours passed, and my sobs continued. Only...

It wasn't about Eight Belles.

By this time, Chad had been gone just under a year. I had taken a lot of time off of work while he was sick, and then another week off after he passed. After that, life had to continue whether I was ready or not. So, I did what I had to do. I put one foot in front of the other and I kept moving forward. When the waves of grief hit at work, in a meeting, out with friends, I became very deft at swallowing it, suppressing it, ignoring it. That practice quickly, and really without my being aware, became a habit. Even when I was in a place where I could be alone to cry and scream over it...the normal and healthy mourning things...I chose not to. Why? Because it hurt, and I was tired of hurt. Done. I chose to ignore it. Now, it unnerves me to realize how quickly that habit had begun to indwell me. And, what I hadn't been able to see at the time, was an angry and bitter spirit slowly festering and growing inside of me.

I sat on my bed that night, after losing my mind over Eight Belles, and talked with God about what had gone down on the couch that day. By the time my friend Sarah had come in the door around dinnertime, she found me sitting in the middle of a mountain of tissues and tears...all the tears I had chosen not to cry so many times over those last weeks and months. The screams and cries I had stifled time and time again hung thickly in the air around me. It was a sight to behold, I have no doubt. As I prayed on my bed that night, a very soft and gentle message landed on my heart. My sweet Lord...

"Baby girl, you have to feel it. I need for you to feel it."

You see, all those months that Chad was sick...some of you heard me....I had told God, begged God, to please use Chad's journey and suffering to bring glory unto Himself. I wanted that. When I saw the miracles He could perform to make the very darkest moment of my life something so beautiful and life changing to myself and others...those miracles healed me. They made Chad's suffering matter. They made his life matter. They made his death matter. Yet, how could I now testify to His faithfulness on a journey that I had shut myself down to, and numbed my heart over? The answer was simple. I could not. In the end, within the embittered and angered and resentful spirit that was slowly manifesting itself inside of me, I was surely headed for sin. But it was hard work to hurt, and I was weary...

What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He makes everything beautiful in its time. -Ecclesiastes 3:9-11

If I want God to use me and to minister through me, if I want to bring God glory in the journey...I have to feel it. If I want God to truly heal me...I have to feel it. We all have to feel it. Even...no, especially...when it hurts. Whatever it is...feel it. And then, lay it at His feet. Make the suffering, loneliness, failure, weeping, heartbreak, depravity, all off it, your personal offering to Him. Lay it down, and then watch Him work the miracles with it all that only He can. But first...feel it.

Ephraim. He makes everything beautiful...in its time...

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