Grief Like Gold

February…here I am once again.  This month laced with hearts and lavished in love, this month of Anna’s birth.  These are the days eight years ago that made time stand still, forever changing my life.  Does the mess of who I am these days have the energy to write it all out?  Will I be able to wade through grief to reach the words that will express the reality of my life without her but filled with Him?
I must. I must share of the wondrous things He has done for me.  And so to that end, I can’t write it any other way but raw…
I clutched ashes this week. 
I clutched them hard and wept.  For nearly eight years now the remains of Anna have been nestled in a small box wrapped by the crematory in brown parchment paper.  Eight years have invited no more courage to open it than on the day Chris first placed this parcel of pain in my lap.  I buried this little box in a larger box some might have purchased for small treasures. Mine is a casket and sits no larger than a ruler on my dresser. Red velvet lining, this box carries a few favorite photos, a couple of rose buds and a vapor of love and sorrow than can never be held.  My treasure box holds death, holds grief, holds Anna.
I can’t remember one specific event or thought; perhaps it was a collection of both that led to the clutching moment.  But it happened, as it always does, and I could do nothing but get swept away once again in the crushing wave of anniversary grief, the one that will undoubtedly wash over me through February…perhaps longer.  I saw it coming.  I ran for my little casket and dove for cover.
I lay there, blue bedspread like blue water engulfing me, pressing the box as close to my heart as I could get it.  I held up the picture, the one I love most, and a gasp escaped- a tender smile invoked by love pressing its way through pain as well.  Nearly eight years and still her little nose, her pink mouth, her monkey brown hair, her eyes, her everything penetrating me, and wounds were ripped open once again.  I pressed my lips to the paper and wished beyond all wishing to feel her once more.  In these moments all the truths that equip “good Christian soldiers” feel more like band-aids than missiles to me. The reality… gone… swept through this mama, leaving me once again weak and silently wailing.
I cried out, “Jesus I will not grieve without you for one moment,” a desperate invitation for His saving presence and yet also, a confession, as if I was in the wrong for grieving yet again.  Then the whisper came, soft, yet strong and with it a gentle measure of peace.  At first this peace was just an inkling, but then it worked its way through me like yeast until the dough of my heart rose and I was strangely new.  The sorrow remained and yet somehow, I was at home in the pain.  And all because of a phrase, a voice that gripped the groaning…
 
“You are my treasure.”
Something in me registered deeply with it, some desert spot was quenched, and yet my mind wondered, Why this phrase?  Why affirmation instead of condolence in the midst of my sorrow? Wouldn’t “I love you” or, “I’m with you” have sufficed?
There have been many days of meditation and now, I am better acquainted with myself, my grief, and the One who claims me as treasure in the dark.
I dread grief.  Grief makes me feel lost, weak and helpless.  Grief makes me wonder if perhaps I am regressing in this process of healing.  Grief makes me feel ugly and pathetic, makes me wish I was stronger or braver.  Grief acquaints me with my humanness, my loneliness, my inadequacy and my limitations.  The enemy has tempted me to believe that grief should not get the better of me any longer.  And when it does, I should be ashamed, I should be embarrassed.
The voice of Jesus whispering to me, you are my treasure, tells me this: Jesus and I do not share the same expectations or feelings about my grief.
I am so grateful to be indwelt by a God who perceives my thoughts from afar.  I am so grateful that the voice of Jesus echoes in my anguish and that His presence speaks to my deepest needs, the ones far from my reach.  I am so grateful that the battle against the Father of lies is easily won by the Father of truth.  Yes it has been eight years.  Yes I have grown in grace through grief and I have had many precious and sacred encounters with Jesus.  I have felt freedom and tasted magnificent measures of hope.  I have flown high on the wings of gratitude and have worshiped, praised and rejoiced at His feet.  But death, the reality of it, can take the wind out of the strongest of sails.  Grief can flatten souls swollen with faith and bursting with Jesus.  Eight years and still, in the moments when I am simply Kate missing Anna, I am broken hearted once more, crushed in spirit all over again.
When the intolerable longing erupts and renders me grieving, Jesus is awarded the opportunity to be the best of Himself to me,
“Our God wants me to comfort all those who are sad.  He wants me to help those in Zion who are filled with sorrow.  I will put beautiful crowns on their heads in place of ashes.”  Isaiah 61:3
In my grief I desperately need the reassurance that I am acceptable and pleasing to God.  The truth is, my grief is attractive to God, it allures Him to His treasure.  It allows Him to be the Savior He longs to be, the encourager that He is and the giver of beauty for ashes.
Just this morning another wave swept over me.  A haunting memory came and stabbed me in the heart.  But this time in the heaving only pain for Anna existed.  There was no shackling guilt or expectation to be anyone other than a weeping mother in the affirming arms of her Shepherd.  I heard myself whisper with gratitude, Thank you.  The tears rolled on, but truth had won and somehow I felt exquisite in my grief.  I felt wealthy in my weakness.
Today I am resting in the reassurance that as I crawl through the days ahead, I am in fact climbing higher and also deeper into the heart of a compassionate, kind and present God.  I see waves in the distance, some much greater than the ones that have already washed over me…but there is a crown on my head.  I am in a season of sorrow, a season of rich love.
I am crushed, clutched and covered in grief like gold.

 

Comments

  1. says

    So visible in my own mind how beautifully clothed you are in this very moment. Praise Him, that He is the embodiment of grace and love, that He alone gives peace that this world, and even our own efforts, do not provide. Praying for you, in this month especially.

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