Walking With You ~ Clinging in the Pit


This week’s WWY topic ~ Clinging in the Pit

Whether or not you are new to loss, talk a bit about early grief. What was it like, clinging for hope in the pits of despair? What did you cling to for hope? How did you survive the early days? What helped? What do you wish you could share with someone new to this walk, clinging in the pit? If you’re in the pit, currently, share your struggles. What can others do to encourage you?

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I haven’t written many new posts about the depths of despair…the days of fresh grief. Much of what I have to say has been written. But, tonight, preparing this post, I am taken back to a few of those days, playing in flashes, like scenes from a movie.

It’s 16 (Faith and Grace) and again 14 (Thomas) years ago

I am in the bath tub, tears streaming, as the water fills. The quiet sobs rising from my depths. My head leans against the cool side of the tub, too weak to hold up as the next wave rushes in. I’m not really in the tub at all, but in the midst of a tumultuous sea, as wave upon wave filled with the unspeakable pain of grief wash over me. I have no fight in me. In a heap, I hang my head and let them come.

Life is a haze. Everything covered in the film of broken dreams, an ache I never knew existed. Nothing matters. Nothing that used to seem so significant holds value. Numbness for the moments when pain subsides. Everything is lacking life and color. And, although I cling to hope and truth the best I can, there are moments when the grief is bigger than anything else…or that is the way it feels.

I crawl to my bible, tears streaming in the middle of the night. I don’t always feel like it. It’s like climbing a mountain in a hailstorm with 10 tons on my back to get to the bible. I know it holds the only hope of comfort there is, yet my arms are so heavy, it takes more strength than I can muster just to lift it.

Somehow, I do, and the tears stain the pages, as I cling. Sometimes I feel His peace wash over me like a soothing balm as His life-giving words combat the hopelessness that deceives. Sometimes, I have to learn to believe without seeing, or feeling. Still I cling, weeping on the pages.

I know He’s my only hope. The waves are strong. Sometimes it feels like I can’t breathe. I don’t leave my house. I don’t open the door or answer the phone. For two months…after we buried our twin daughters. My mother and Ginny take turns staying with me while Tim is at work. I am rarely left alone. I know life will never be the same. The hardest place to go is church. Not because I’m mad at God, but because being there brushes the most tender places of my heart…the heart that lays torn to shreds, ripped and raw. Worship. The music, stings. More than stings…my bedraggled heart cannot take it. I’ve talked to friends who felt the same…in grief. The heart is too tender…for anything that touches those raw places.

There were days Tim would come home to find me in a heap in the corner on the kitchen floor, crying like a little girl. After the loss of my mother six years ago, I would wake up curled up in the fetal position, crying. He would hold me until I could breathe again. When I woke up from nightmares in those early days, he would remind me where I was, and that it was ok. Again, I clung in the dark of night, when I wondered if He really met her and carried her home. Jesus whispered truth to my aching heart…shining light in the dark, truth to quiet lies….when again I crawled to Him, up the mountain, in the hailstorm. Tim held me when I cried through worship.

Sometimes, all these years later, he holds me still. And, still, I cling when doubt and pain rear ugly and big in front of me…weak, small me. Jesus whispers, “Fix your eyes on me. I am Who I say I am. I will never leave you, nor forsake you. I didn’t leave you in the darkest valleys…in fact, I was growing beautiful fruit watered by your tears. And, I didn’t leave Faith, Grace, Thomas…or your mother. I carried them home…and I am carrying you now…every step, every breath.”

Guess what…no matter how you’re feeling right now, He’s carrying you too. Even if you can’t feel Him…even if everything your eyes see in front of you on this earth spells hopelessness and despair. Cling to His promises…cling to His truth.

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From the Threads of Hope Study: Getting Out of the Pit

I have been in the pit, and through this ministry, I spend a great deal of time with others who are in the pit of grief. And, when you’re in the pit, it’s tough to think of anything other than the pain and sorrow weighing down on you, being heaped upon you as you sink further in.

Corrie Ten Boom – “There is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still.”

I love that…and I could also relate to what Gwen Kik shared:

After Hope died I felt as if I were hanging in a pit. The only think keeping me from falling to the depths was my grasp. On the edge of the pit was our Lord, offering His hand but I would not look at Him or reach for Him. I would only hold to the hem of His robe. Some called that faith. I called it desperation. He was all that I had to hold on to.

I hung there for many months before I had the courage to even look at Him. I remember the day clearly that I climbed out of my pit, into His arms and had a good cry. That was the beginning of my letting go.

When in the pit, we may not have the strength, desire, or will to even reach our hand up to take His…to even lift our head to look into His eyes, to even open our mouth to whisper…”help me, hold me, carry me”. Even that may be too much. Just breathing is a lot to ask in the smothering depths of the pit.

What I love most about Gwen’s picture is that the Lord is sitting outside the pit…waiting for her…offering His comfort and reassurance. Even when we can’t feel Him, even when we reject Him…He is there…waiting with unyielding love to gather us in His arms and wipe our tears.

I also love that Gwen says she clung to Him out of desperation. I think there’s too much emphasis placed on the strength of our faith. Faith isn’t about us…it’s about the God we trust in and what He is able to do. It’s not about how big or well we believe…or anything else we do. It’s not about having strong faith…and a faith that barely holds on out of desperation is not considered weak faith. Faith, after all is just knowing that He is the One to hold on to…it’s trusting in what we do not see. It is the “substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen”. Call me crazy, but holding on to the little tiny threads of His robe while grasping in desperation in the pit…where you cannot see the hope, the light, the promise…that’s the most beautiful faith of all. The dirty, messy, nitty-gritty faith that comes when the world is falling apart and there are no answers.

At least, that’s what I learned from my own time in the pit…

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.   In My Father’s house are many mansions;if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

John 14:6

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Last week, it was such a blessing to read about your sweet babies and to see the beautiful encouragement many of the mothers offered to one another on this walk. That is what this is all about, sharing our hearts and encouraging one another…so that each mother knows we are not walking this path alone. Thank you for the privilege of walking with you. I hope you will join us again this week. It’s a hard one, peeling back the layers. But, take heart…you are not alone.

Love and grace to all…

*Link your post below, or share your heart in the comments. And, please take the time to visit those linked here. Thank you!

 


Where is God in all This Mess?

Suffering is everywhere. Grief, loss, brokenness. Everywhere. Everyday.

Everyday, I meet or read about a mother who has lost her child. My inbox is full of mothers waiting for SGM shipments to honor the memory of these precious lives.

A couple days ago, one of my best friends (mommy to baby Sawyer), kissed her sweet boy and sent him off to the operating room where he endured his second open heart surgery. He is a little more than one year old. He is full of life and joy, seemingly unaware of the precarious way he entered this world and ridiculously resilient although he has been poked and prodded by various physicians throughout his brief time on planet earth. (The surgery went well, and sweet Sawyer is recovering…please keep him in your prayers.)

This week, after one of the plethora of high school golf matches that fill my afternoons, I sat for a couple hours talking with another dear friend and co-worker, mother to my son’s best friend. Her husband was a co-worker of mine, an amazing father to her three boys (the youngest a senior), a beloved girls’ basketball coach, and a devoted member of our community. The fourth anniversary of his sudden death is approaching. We spoke of the missing…of the reconciling how God could let this happen…and why. I couldn’t shake the image of my beautiful friend sitting in the church pew with her three boys beside her and his casket in the front of the church. I have often thought of the grief I have walked through, and the times Tim has held me up when I couldn’t stand…held me when I woke up sobbing…covered for me when I couldn’t leave my bedroom…held my hand and led me when I couldn’t see where to walk. My friend has walked where I have not. Grief I have known, but grief without him…I dare not even speak of it. It’s the kind none of us want to know, and yet she walks this path…bravely and beautifully. The world keeps turning…the sun rises and sets. She goes to work everyday, and loves her boys, and aches for the love of her life.

A student is watching his father bravely battle cancer.

Another boy I know loves the color pink, because his mother is fighting cancer…for at least the third time. His grandfather is currently in the hospital…not doing well.

There are other children…who come to school with hurts we cannot imagine. Everyday.

And, the world keeps turning. The sun rises and sets.

The question hangs in the air. It’s the one I struggle to answer when face to face with such grief. The one that won’t tolerate some well-thought out response with flowery prose. The one that looks skeptically at the scriptures that promise comfort and peace. It’s the one I don’t have an answer to…at least not a worthy answer.

Where is God in all this pain…and why did He let this happen?


Sure, I could wax poetic with a thousand cliches and pat answers. There are beautiful scriptures…examples of faith. Words that are true and right. But, when standing face to face with the raw agony of a heart twisted in pain like that….sometimes I am rendered speechless. Sometimes there are no words…no answers.

I could say that this world is not the one He intended for us. The suffering, grief, and destruction are part of life in this fallen world. They are not Who He is. He is the love that carries us, the peace that sustains us, the grace that offers redemption. He is in the beauty born of the ashes.

My words will not fill the ache of a mother’s empty arms or the agony of living life on this earth without the one she loves. Many times, I say nothing or very little and simply offer prayers and/or scripture. But, sometimes I long for something to say…some hope to cling to.

In April 2010, Kristin wrote this post, wondering about God and His intentions…wrestling honestly with her grief and the sometimes hurtful words of others. The response that poured out of me (along with buckets of tears) was the closest I have ever come to saying what I wish could be said to an aching heart. Still…the words are far from adequate. I copied my comment from her blog and pasted below:

Kristin,

I am so sorry people have used words that are hurtful. I’m reading your words with tears pouring down my face…so sorry for the hurt you are feeling. I can feel the strength of it through your words. The anger…the pain…the feelings of abandonment. They are bigger than anything else right now. Right now, there are no perfect answers or words tied up in a neat bow to explain the suffering and death of your sweet baby girl…and the continuation of loss you feel facing infertility. There are no words to make that better or explain why. I know the pain is bigger than anything else…that you feel like He has let you down, turned His back on you. You are in the thick of grief…heavy, relentless, merciless grief.

You may read my blog and see where I am now…it isn’t a place I’ve always been. The process of getting beauty from ashes is no walk in the park. There were years of healing, brokenness, restoration, surrender, and learning to trust Him. He is still piecing some things back together in my life.

The words I want to tell you are going to seem so cotton candy right now. But, they are true…and maybe you can take some comfort in knowing that they are coming from someone who has walked through some stuff. 

God doesn’t intend suffering, pain, death, sickness, cancer, grief…any of it. He never intended it. He isn’t the author of it. And, as a loving Father who values you enough to send His own Son to suffer horribly and die in your place….He takes no pleasure in your pain. He loves you and His heart breaks for you…with you… I get that you can’t feel Him right now…that the pain is too much. I get it, and so does He. When I even try to think of the depth of your pain, it seems like such bologna as I’m writing it…knowing that you are in a place to receive this right now, and desperately hoping that my words do nothing to pour salt in your gaping wounds…

(To be continued in next comment)

Ridiculously long comment continued….

You may be thinking…O.K…He didn’t intend it, but He allowed it. He didn’t stop it. He didn’t protect her. He didn’t protect me. You’re right…He didn’t stop it from happening…and I don’t have an answer for that. Not one that will make it better. His ways are not our ways…and only He sees the beginning from the end. It is true that there are beautiful things that come from the ashes of our brokenness. And God can use all things in our lives to shape and mold us. 

But, when you are in the pit sinking…where you are, those words sometimes don’t help…and may even bring hurt. Who wants to hear about being shaped and molded when your arms are aching for your baby, your body is broken, and your heart is in pieces, and your mind is plagued with memories of the suffering of your precious child? You can’t see the hope of that promise from the pit. Can’t feel the comfort of it. That doesn’t mean it isn’t there…doesn’t mean that He isn’t there…and I know me saying it doesn’t make you feel better. 
From my pit…I didn’t want to hear about God’s will…didn’t want to hear about the fruit that would come…didn’t want to count it all joy…didn’t want the witty words and well-meaning verses…didn’t want the pretty flowers…certainly didn’t want to listen to any miracle stories…almost every promise from scripture or well-meaning words from Christians brought pain. I just wanted my babies. And I just wanted my mother. And…they weren’t here…

For a time, I didn’t want to hear about the promises and hope.

But…in time when, I did. I wanted to hold on to the promise of the joy set before me…wanted to know that although weeping may last for a night…joy would come in the morning. I didn’t know when morning would come to my house and stay…but one day, on my knees, crying bitter tears…I felt myself surrender all that I had wanted and just let Him carry me. There’s no formula or timetable to come to that place…and it sounds so easy and tied up in a pretty bow as I’m writing it right now. It wasn’t. And, it wasn’t a place I could come to on my own…

Here’s the thing, I believe as the bible says, the rain falls on the just and the unjust. Whether we are Christians or not, we will find suffering and trouble in this world. It’s a guarantee. We will walk through these valleys with or without Him. The bottom line is…I’d rather walk through it with Him than without Him.

There is unspeakable beauty that has grown in our lives from the ashes of our sorrow. I don’t believe that God sent the sorrow and loss…and I never would have chosen it. But, He has used it to make us who we are…to draw us to Him…to teach us to love one another. I’m saying that, not to rub salt in your wounds, but to tell you that there is hope for healing. Even in this darkness…light can shine again.

And, Kristin…even when you can’t feel Him, He is holding you. He will carry you…He is carrying you. When you are too weak to reach for Him, He still holds you. When you are too angry to hear Him…to go to Him…He waits for you. And…no matter how hurt, angry, deserted, lost, hopeless, broken…no matter how long it takes…He will wait for you. He will be there with open arms. He loves you with a relentless love. A love that can take your anger, your sorrow, your questioning, your doubt, your pain…
His only intention is tTo love, heal, save, and carry you….

You, my dear, are not a failure….and no one has the right to judge your “performance” in the pits of grief. No one.

I hope you don’t mind my long comment…and all of my words. Words that I know do nothing to “fix” the brokenness. Please know that they have all been written in love…my heart is breaking with you…
I pray nothing I’ve said added to your pain…

Love and Continued prayers,
Kelly

I know this post is getting long, but I wanted to share these thoughts for the mothers newly walking this path…or those with other struggles feeling hurt and wondering where God is in all of this. I’ve asked that a few times, and He is always faithful to answer. God loves honest, real questions. And, He loves to meet us where we are. There is no pit so deep He cannot find us. For further thoughts and scripture on where God is when we are in the pit of despair, visit this post: Letting Go and Holding On

The One To Whom I Belong… (And an added prayer request/update)

For more information about Tuesdays Together in The Word or to join us on the journey, please visit DeeDee’s blog.

How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart daily?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and hear me, O Lord my God;
Enlighten my eyes,
Lest I sleep the sleep of death;
Lest my enemy say,
“I have prevailed against him”;
Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
But I have trusted in Your mercy;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

~Psalm 13

Have you ever asked the Lord “How long…?” How long will my sorrow last? How long before I am rescued? How long will I feel forsaken, forgotten, broken? How long will I carry “sorrow in my heart daily”?

Do you know what amazes me the most about those “How long” questions? I am amazed that we are allowed to ask them of the God of the Universe. Not only are we allowed, but we are welcomed to pour out our hearts to Him…our fears, our doubts, our sorrows, our failings, our brokenness. Not only are we welcomed into His very throne room with open arms, He longs for us to come to Him…longs for us to lay each burden, each ugly broken piece of our lives, even our most hideous sin at His feet. And He will lift each burden from our weary shoulders, make something beautiful out of the ugly, broken pieces of our lives, and wash us clean as He forgives us for our most hideous sins.

My feeble mind cannot wrap itself around such promises. And yet, I have seen Him do these very things more than once in my life. I have asked Him in my deepest sorrow, “How long, O Lord?” And I have seen His answers. I have been carried through the “How longs”…comforted through the daily sorrow of my heart. I have seen the “joy that comes in the morning”, after a long night of weeping.

Once, I looked around at church, each Sunday morning and asked, “How long…” as I prayed that we would be a complete family sitting in the pew together. He whispered to my heart, one day “It won’t be long, dear one. I have heard your prayers…the cry of your heart. And, soon you will sit here together. You will worship together as a family, and it will be as if it has always been this way.” And so it happened years ago. Today, we share in ministry together.

Once, we stood broken beside the graves of our children…Faith, Grace, and Thomas and I asked “How long…”. How long will this grief and sorrow dwell in our hearts, tearing at our family? How long, O Lord? When will joy come to our house…when will morning come to stay? He whispered to my heart, “I will carry you, dear one. I will hold you and comfort you. My grace is sufficient for you.” And so it was. He carried me and comforted me. His grace was sufficient for me. Morning came to stay…love and beauty grew out of the pain and ashes. Joy was restored. And miracles were born.

Many more times in my life, I have cried “How long…”. And many more times, He has sustained me. For, I have trusted in His mercy…My heart rejoices in His salvation…I sing to the Lord because He has dealt bountifully with me. He is the One who holds my tears in a bottle. The One who formed me and knew me when I was yet in my mother’s womb. He is the One who hears all my “How longs”.

And He is the God to whom I belong and whom I serve. (see Acts 27:23)
Thank you, dear Jesus, for Your great faithfulness, your endless mercy, and Your perfect…abundant…sufficient grace that covers me every day. I will sing of Your mercy and grace, rejoicing in Your salvation…for you have dealt bountifully with me.
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UPDATED PRAYER NEED: We have been praying for Jennifer, and she needs our prayers again. She is expecting and has been bleeding and clotting in her uterus. Doctors thought she was miscarrying the baby on March 7. She never passed a clot, and when she went to the doctor today, there was a strong heartbeat. THE BABY IS ALIVE! Mother and baby’s lives still remain in danger as long as she continues to bleed…so MUCH prayer is needed. This is a miracle! Praise the Lord…and please join me in asking for more miracles for sweet Jennifer…who has already lost her precious Isaiah and another little one from this condition. Please tell every prayer warrior you know and get on your knees on behalf of this precious mother and her family. Please visit her here, and let her know you’re praying.