Today marks the 9th week of my life without Kathy.
When I got up this morning, I was reading some emails and I came across these verses in Philippians 4:
How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty.
The context of this passage obviously concerns their financial gifts to his livelihood but the words resonate with me on several fronts. First, all of you have joined in this journey from the very first day and it is not lost to me that you are the bearers of my soul and have been vital in helping me stay focused and in providing comfort to my pain. Secondly, the passage reminds me that even Paul was dependent on others and while there is within each of us a temptation to carry our burdens alone, we fail to acknowledge that God has provided others to help us in ways we can only appreciate with the passage of time. Someone said to me recently, “I intend to be remain in the shadows so that I will not be a distraction to you but close enough that I could be there in a moment, should you need me!” Reflecting on that, I affirm that kind of friendship and commit to be that kind of friend–near, close, available. I think that works for all of us. Finally, Paul’s thoughts remind me that all of us, depend on the Lord and find in Him the available and necessary strength to make each day palatable, managing my emotions, fears and struggles.
Last night, I drove back from NC and in prayer I kept asking God for BALANCE in all things. At times, the swing of emotions scares me because I have not been so wildly emotional but then I’ve never walked this road before and so I’m praying balance in my life. Its only been 9 weeks and the pain has not subsided and if anything the darker hours have been more prevalent in recent weeks than in the earlier days. I’m hearing from lots of people who care and offer support and I’m filtering everything through my family and others who can help. My healing is beginning slowly (very slowly) and I’m having some good days now–which is good.
Jeremy graduated from Lee University this weekend and we celebrated with our family in Cleveland. That was good. Kathy would have loved the day and would have worked to affirm Jeremy and Corrie for the accomplishment. When Jeremy’s name was called, I stood silently at my seat, honoring Kathy and hoping Jeremy would see me. He writes about his own experience from that day here. So, in our own ways, we did that and it was good. The “firsts” have been hard but such is grieving, or so I’m told. I preached this weekend and God helped me big-time. I’m choosing to use this season of ministry to tell my story and to share Jesus in each speaking engagement. As we all know, our churches are filled with people wrestling their grief to the ground each day, each hour and they are coming for prayer and counsel. I’m not prepared to do much counseling but I”m able to tell my story and to offer to connect them to the resources I’m using. In times, I think I will have a more comprehensive plan for those who ask for help. Right now, I’m hurting too much and it would not seem appropriate for me to do more than tell my story and point to Jesus.
Struggling to answer the question, “how are you doing?” I’ve starting responding, “I’m living one day at a time, most are painful but some are good but every day hurts.” Then, if they engage more deeply, I share more, otherwise I thank them for their prayers and I hope they understand it is hard to talk extensively about it all with everyone. I’m moved by the compassion my Ohio family is focusing on my family and the persistent actions to demonstrate their care and concern. This is a healing environment for me.
I’m heading to Louisiana this weekend by invitation of Carl and Susan Webb who came to Robert, LA while we were living there. They have finished paying off their new constructed sanctuary and wanted Kathy and I to be part of the celebration. At the time we booked the day, Kathy was still here and we were thrilled to return to Louisiana. When she passed, Carl continued to believe I should come as did Jeremy and Jason, so I”m going on–without Kathy–but excited to reconnect to my spiritual family there. So much of Louisiana defines me and I’m sure the emotions will be heavy. A good number of pastors and leaders came to Kathy’s funeral in Cleveland but there will be those whom I have not seen or hugged in 2 years. I can hardly wait! Kathy and I love Louisiana so much.
- Branson got an iPod finally.
- Cooper David got his school yearbook and asked me to sign it like all his friends.
- Sadie is coming to stay with me for three days next week while her parents travel.
- Tucker still kisses me and says “Papa” like none of the others.
- Kinley Grace arrives in 8+ weeks or less.
- Andrea/Jason’s newest child will make Thanksgiving special this year.
Life is what it is and God is near.
Much love to you all.