Friday, April 5, 2013

Missing Mama Part Two: My Story with God

It's been seven years since my mom passed away, and as I said in yesterday's post, I look back on those first couple of years with a mixture of sadness and remorse. I was so involved in how I was feeling, in what was happening with me, and so distant and cut off that I had a hard time connecting with people--including my family--emotionally. I went through the motions of being a wife and a mother, and hopefully I didn't totally stink at it, but I didn't enjoy it very much. That makes me sad, because there is so much joy in being a wife and a mother. Sometimes I think If only things had been different, if circumstances had not played out the way they did, if only..., but the real truth is that things weren't different. My mom died, and I didn't know how to handle the emptiness I felt when she was gone. And I think I missed out on some truly joyful, happy times in my own house because I wasn't emotionally present. I was there physically, but the shroud of depression weighed heavy on me, and it showed.

When I found out that Jesus was more than just a figure on a cross, I was stunned. I had grown up in church my entire life and had never figured out the difference between knowing about Him and a relationship with Him. I kept wondering, How can this be? How did I miss this? It was obvious from the way I lived that He was missing, but the strange thing is that I thought I had known Him all along.

The steps I have taken to know Him better have been small, and not without a few steps back after several forward. I had lived my life trying to fill the God-shaped hole in my heart with all sorts of things I thought would give me peace and happiness forever: money, make-up, the Junior League, cars, a house, kids, a husband, friends, alcohol, being thin...the list is long, and although some of those things do bring real joy, it's hard to appreciate them when the newness wears off or life gets hard.

Being in relationship with Christ has shown me that there is joy in life beyond what my circumstances are. His presence brings a peace that is so beautiful it is life-changing. His mercy brings a deep thankfulness. I had turned my face away from Him, said that other things were better at filling me up than Him, yet He still turned my life around. He brings a hope that no amount of money or position in society could ever match. I am a changed person because of His presence in my life, and while I have my fair share of doubts and have said I don't get you, God, I am so thankful that He found me. Everything has changed--everything--and it's changed for the better. I've changed for the better. His presence in my life has changed me. I can see beauty where there was only devastation, peace where there was only fear, hope where there was sorrow, light where there was darkness, joy where there were only tears, patience and love where there was bitterness and anger. In the words of John and Stasi Eldredge (from Isaiah 61):

For, dear one, I will bestow beauty upon you
where you have known only devastation.
Joy, in the places of your deep sorrow.
And I will robe your heart in thankful praise
in exchange for your resignation and despair.

Some people say that God doesn't do miracles anymore, that He doesn't heal, that His presence isn't as obvious in the world we live in today.

The evidence of the process of His healing is my life.

The good news is that this isn't the end of the road for me, because I'm not completely there yet. I have a lifetime ahead of me to continue to learn, grow and mature. I'm learning that He will never forsake me, never leave me, and that He is just and good. I've had some major misgivings along the way, but in the words of Natalie Grant,

I have been the wayward child,
I have acted out,
I have questioned sovereignty,
and had my share of doubts...
Bitterness has plagued my heart
many times before...
I will stumble,
I will fall down...
I will make mistakes,
I will face heartache,
I will not be moved...

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