I thought I would want to write. In fact, I started many posts in my mind and at this computer through the month of February. The truth is, I just couldn’t get past the sadness. I couldn’t pull a cohesive thought together, just a jumbling of words that amounted to a sad girl and her gracious God. I wanted to tell you, I did. I wanted to tell you how I felt under the covers and how the ground felt under my knees and how the Savior cradled and sustained me in in both places…but I couldn’t.
Grief is hard and life, life is hard too. I reached my breaking point last month. At the beginning of February Chris went to California for eight days. We had planned for my mom to come stay with me and to help with the kids, but my grandmother is ill and my mom needed to be with her. Our heat pump crashed and bitter winter stormed right through our walls and into our home. I love my children…I do, but four of them from seven months to nine years in a cold house, alone, is hard. February brought more than grief, it brought emotional and physical trials that flattened me. Even now I find I am struggling to get back up again. I feel weak and tired. All of my romantic notions of how I would approach this tenth anniversary year and my writing about it last month were crushed by the weight of both life and death. Instead of being able to endure this season with courage, I found that I just braced myself for it to all be over. God whispered to me in that place of raw waiting. He did. But the energy to write about it was gone.
Since the beginning of March I have been wondering how I would put all this into words and then a few days ago, a “miracle” took place in our home that encapsulated the truth of my February experience.
My nine year old John (emotional, intense, adorable) was very mad at all of us. Being stuck in tight quarters on a snow day with a tarped off sunroom/playroom didn’t help. He snapped at his younger brother and was sent to his room. He stomped up the stairs making sure we could all hear and feel his thunder and slammed the door. Ten minutes later he came back downstairs a different kid. His eyes were lit with wonder, his face wet with tears, and he said to me, “Mama, it’s a miracle!”
I asked John if I could share his story with you. He wrote these words down for me:
“I was really, really, really sad. I went up to my room. I turned on my worship music and the second I heard the first line, I just broke into a waterfall, tears of joy. I didn’t know what was going on. I knew it was a miracle. I thought it was a major comeback from God. And it was. I didn’t know what to do. It was crazy. I thought my joy was going to flood the house.”
Chris came into the kitchen, took John in his arms and said, “Johnny do you know why that happened? Because above all else God made you to worship Him. And when we worship, our hearts get in touch with who we really are and what we are made to do…and that brings joy.”
For months leading up to February I read, studied and prayed over the scripture:
“Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10.
But nothing I read, no commentary or sermon, was more profound to me than the experience of my son being rescued from sadness, rescued from human weakness by joy. And the agent of the miracle…worship. Joy will always trump grief because we were not made for such pain. We were not made for sadness. What we were made for is Him. And in His presence is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).
Worship takes us there. Worship takes us to the height of true living and true fulfillment.
Worship takes us home.
I have shared with you before that the unique prayer God gave me for Anna was that she would be a “child of worship.” In fact, her name was chosen in light of this God given phrase, because Anna the prophetess worshiped in the temple day and night waiting for the promised Messiah.( Luke 2:37)
I learned many years ago that this phrase was much more than a name and a prayer for Anna. “Child of worship” was God’s simple but powerful directive to me of how I would survive grief and how I would be transformed and fulfilled in spite of my continued pain. “Child of Worship” is the house where “The joy of the Lord dwells.” This has always been and will always be, the miracle.
And wasn’t it for the joy set before him that he endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2)? He suffered and grieved knowing that His endurance of humanity and ultimately death would produce the miracle…the one that leads to our rescue and our joy as we wrestle and grieve. Sometimes we feel the miracle in the moment like John did. Other times we just know it’s true as we endure. Last month was a combination of both for me. Moments where the joy was felt and other times I just knew it by faith- it was a deep inner strength that held me while I was pressed upon with sorrow. But in both cases…miracle.
A decade ago I became a mother and this role has given me more joy and more pain than I could draft in words. But it’s my girl, my only girl, who has given me the greatest gift of my life. Would I have ever become a Child of Worship without her? Would I have ever known the warmth and comfort of the Savior without the pain of her absence? Would I have known such sweetness, such strength, such joy, without the sorrow to take me there? And would I feel such desperation, the kind that leads to deep dependence without my continued longing for her and those I grieve for? I am as John says, a waterfall of joy. But most significantly, I am a child of worship.
How about you?
What causes you sadness today?
What makes you weak?
Your miracle is waiting.
My friend and talented photographer Emily Sacra, photographed year ten for us. I am exceedingly grateful for these sacred moments she captured with the people I cherish most in this world.
Anna Rose, my lovely, lovely girl, happy tenth birthday.