Posted by: karanoel | August 29, 2019

Broken bones of grief, Part 2

After 23 years under the care of the Great Physician who had gained my trust and healed so many of my broken places, I lost Cole to suicide. It is hard to imagine a deeper trauma or more extensive break. Understandably, my initial response was one of shock and horror. But because of what I had experienced in Part 1 of this post, it was followed almost immediately by an intense determination to refuse any diagnosis or treatment by myself or anyone other than my wise Doctor whose masterful care, I believed, could heal even this break.

Making my own assessments based on my emotions, perceptions or very limited understanding, like I did as a teenager, would not result in the healing I so desperately needed, nor would going into self-protect mode. My heart would need to stay soft so I could let Him come near. My ears would need to stay open so I could hear His voice of comfort and truth. The muscles of trust I had developed over countless workouts of yielding my will would need to be flexed so I could follow His instructions and once again be made well.

I did none of this perfectly. I had lost my precious son… the one God used to save my life… and my heart hurt so deeply. But the cross – the beautiful, powerful cross, which I’d known so little of before but know so much of now – created a holy space for me in the midst of pain and confusion, as it does for all who weep and grieve and have lost what they can’t bear to lose. It carried a promise of something different than what I could yet see and a constant whisper to come to the Healer to be washed and mended and made whole. 

Each time I chose to yield to that whisper and come to Him, with symptoms or questions or just to weep at His feet, some piece of healing was deposited. Sometimes He held me tight, conveying as to a child that it was going to be okay, until my tears ebbed, my body calmed and I could get back up and carry on. Other times He released into my heart a deep compassion for Cole so there would be no foothold for judgment or anger, and enabled me to forgive myself and others I would be tempted to blame for his choice. Sometimes He spoke a word of truth that arrested my understanding so supernaturally that I felt joined to His heart and vision, leaving me to wonder how I could ever be disheartened again. But mostly, He injected a mighty shot of comfort at the source of the pain, covering me with grace to get through each day and imparting a divine hope that it would not always hurt like this.

Because of this grace, given so freely, I was able to act upon His prescribed treatment, much of which I had already learned and practiced during recuperation from previous injuries. It wasn’t easy; it never is. But it is amazing what can be accomplished when the alternative is continual pain. So I washed my aching wound in worship songs that spoke of God’s love and His victory over death, listening over and over and over again as they ministered to my doubts and my sorrow. I clung to verses that spoke truth and comfort to my heart, letting their voices rise above the clammer in my head: “Did I not tell you that if you believe you would see the glory of God?” I set my mind to recount all the times He had been so faithful to me; when He had brought beauty from ashes in every seemingly hopeless situation I’d dared to trust Him in… only seeing in the end what He had seen all along. I set my mouth to declare His goodness because He says He is good, even when my circumstances seem to say differently. And I continued to take each of my symptoms to Him so I could hear His report – not mine, not the enemy’s, but His. When I couldn’t find my way back to Him or to a place of surrender, I enlisted the encouragement and prayer of friends who would not pity me but would faithfully lead me back to this relentlessly loving and powerful God who would not leave me here.

Because I knew this God of mine could heal, my impatience tormented me at times. I thought I should be able to skip the process. Just throw off my grief, jump out of my recovery bed and be done with it. Inevitably, when I got ahead of the process, I would fall to the ground, keenly aware of my throbbing wound and frustrated by my weakness. I once again had to return to Jesus in a state of vulnerability, allowing my sadness and hurt to surface. To acknowledge it, feel it and to always bring it before the Lord. Because though breaks take time to heal even under the best care, time alone won’t heal them. It is only through relationship with the Healer that we are made well. 

Then there was one brutal day when my thoughts turned sour. Anger rose, which in itself wasn’t wrong. It was simply a symptom of something bigger going on; one that could have been diagnosed and treated if I’d taken it to the Lord. Or if I’d let someone else take me to Him through prayer. But I wanted none of that because along with anger entered self-pity, which does not (and never will) want to be made well. It is an infection, producing all sorts of pain and complications without giving an ounce of healing. But in the moment it felt good. Justified. So I let loose all the raging “poor me’s” that I had been rejecting to that point. There was no grace. No pain killing shot of comfort. No hope to be found. It felt like hell. So I turned back to Jesus. It felt so feeble and powerless. But through praise, one of the most difficult offerings I’ve ever brought, not only did darkness and pain have to flee, but hope came with tidings of comfort and joy.

And so it has gone this past year, learning ever more how to put all my trust in this Great Physician who is “near to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Ps 34:18) I have gained so much restoration already, able to put increasing amounts of weight on this break which is being set according to perfect Love and Wisdom. And, because of this break, my once debilitating fear of pain has lost its grip on me. If God can lead me through this – without even a glimpse back at addiction, no less – what do I have to fear? So I will continue to surrender to His truth and His process until I am made completely whole. What joy will fill His heart (and mine) when He says, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”

Verses


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