Anniversaries of Grief and a Year of Firsts
Image by Manie Van der Hoven from Pixabay

Anniversaries are usually celebrated. They often mark days we want to remember. Days of joy that make us thankful. Birthdays. Wedding anniversaries. Adoption days.

But we mark some anniversaries reluctantly. Wishing the day did not exist. Hoping it’s all just a bad dream. The memory of those days brings grief, not celebration. Sadness, not joy. We look back, not ahead.

This past week contained one of those days for me. It marked the first anniversary of my husband’s graduation to heaven. “Graduation to heaven” sounds so much better than “death.” But it doesn’t change the fact that, either way, decades of marriage are suddenly gone.

You probably have similar anniversaries in your own life.

The loss of someone precious.

A traumatic accident.

The end of a marriage or other long-term relationship.

This kind of anniversary represents an event thrust upon us. A day we have no choice as to whether to accept. It’s there. The elephant in the room.

So what’s the point? If God uses all things to work together for the ultimate good of His children (Romans 8:28), how do we process these events? How can they possibly work good in and for us?

Here’s some of the “good” I experienced this past year:

  • The end of myself as I’ve learned reliance on my heavenly Father in a new & deeper way.
  • Development of perseverance when it’s difficult or lonely or I’m just plain weary.
  • Learning humility in asking for help.
  • Accepting a new identity as I’ve had to check a new box: widow. Yet married or widowed, both labels are overridden by my most important identity: a child of God
  • Cultivating a new perspective of the future by accepting uncertainty and embracing God’s sovereignty.
  • And finally, appreciating the reality that heaven feels closer and more real because a part of my heart is there.

As I wrote in a recent social media post:

One year today.
One year since my life partner was called Home.
One year that can feel like one day, and other times, one decade.

One year of living without the one who divided my sorrows and multiplied my joys.
One year of pursuing challenges without my strongest cheerleader. 
One year of learning to live without the one who loved me unconditionally, covered my weaknesses, and celebrated my strengths.

One year of swimming in the sea of my heavenly Father’s grace through His Son, Jesus.
One year of finding comfort in the Holy Spirit who showed me how to enjoy the gift of shared love, and who shows me how to rest in His peace now that it’s gone.

One year of living in hope, looking forward to the day when years will never be counted again.

How are you processing the losses in your life?
How has God grown you in the process?

Puppy Perseverance

“Big” is relative. The smaller we are, the larger everything else appears.

A few years ago, during a visit to my childhood church, I gazed in amazement at how tiny the classrooms were. I didn’t remember them being that small when I was eight years old. Basketball nets appear to have become shorter, too. Trying to shoot a basketball in fifth grade seemed impossible – I had a better chance of aiming at the top of a building. What a difference a few years – and a few inches in height – can make.

On the grass - 6 weeksI was reminded of this concept of relativity as I watched the newest additions to our family: two boxer puppies.  Taken from their mother way too early, they were brought to the Humane Society where they won our hearts. This brother and sister spent their first week with us wobbling around on shaky legs as they explored their new world. Of course, for the first couple of days, that world was restricted to their crate. Then an entire room. Finally, we brought them outside. That’s when the fun began.

They stumbled and fell, then picked themselves up only to fall again. Thankfully, the soft grass cushioned their tumbles. After a few days of exploring the outdoors and becoming surer of their footing, they attempted to follow us back into the house instead of being carried. But an obstacle blocked their way. To Conquering the Step - 7 wksget to our front porch, they had to negotiate a six-inch step – not a problem for you and me, but when you’re less than eight inches tall, a six-inch step is huge!

Still, these pups were determined to conquer that step. They tried and failed and tried again, until…they did it. Puppy perseverance won out.

That step wasn’t a problem for me, but other things are. Things that block my way and cause me grief. Situations that make me want to give up because they’re just too big for me to deal with. Then I remember who I belong to: El Elyon, The Most High God. Nothing is too big for Him to handle, in the physical or the spiritual world. By the power of His Spirit, I’m able to persevere, to maintain hope, and to trust that if I cannot make a way forward, it’s because He has a better way for me.

Conquering the Step1 - 7 wks

How has knowing that God is El Elyon helped you develop “puppy perseverance”?