Perhaps the holidays held some hollow pining in your heart, ebbing in and out of other joyous emotions, like the unlit strand of tree lights intermingled with sections of garland and other bright trimmings. If you took time to embrace the brief visit of grief, you either felt warm bittersweet comfort, regret and guilt or a steely indifference to the uninvited intruder. Depending on how we have dealt with the sorrow of losing a loved one and how we loved them, determines our response.
When I reflect on the spouse I loved and built a home with, who died twenty years ago, I feel warm comfort and gratitude for the years we had together and yes, sorrow, but a sorrow that has waned from acute pain and distress into a tiny flicker which will glow in my heart forever.
My mother died eight years ago and many times grief has wanted to visit my memories with regret and guilt. I longed for a closer relationship with her that I never quite attained, and I often felt I hadn't tried hard enough or maybe hadn't been willing to forgive her completely for attitudes and judgements that kept us apart. The guilt came from knowing I was to honor her, but feeling I fell short, often.
Assured of God's love and grace for me, I am finding His Spirit healing my regrets, forgiving my judgmental attitudes and teaching me about honoring parents. I want to honor well the parents who I still have with me. As I encounter life and experience first-hand what my mother would have already been through or discovered, I appreciate anew her faith and consistent love for her family. I realize her good example of staying connected to Jesus, the Vine, and the legacy of prayer she left behind. I express that to others and imagine what I would say to her now, to let her know I understand better and appreciate more. I find love growing over difficult memories like coral building it's bright colors over sunken vessels.
I read the story of David and Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel 9 this week. Another blog entry I posted about a year ago, expresses my awe at the kindness of David and the turn of events for Mephibosheth. This time my attention focused on David's desire to honor his friend Jonathan, who was no longer living. Showing honor became more than visiting a grave site or lighting a candle. David searched for a way to express kindness to Jonathan's family. The result was a new way of life for a crippled man and a beautiful expression of honor to a friend.
I've been released from guilt and regret as I accept God's forgiveness and allow him to re frame my past. Freely, I have received, now I can freely give. Is there more you are showing me now, Father? Are there actions of kindness I can do that would honor my mother? Could it be a phone call to her elderly sisters who live in another state, just because? Perhaps a great grandchild needs to hear how she loved and the giving heart she showed to neighbors and friends, and that she enjoyed playing games with the family and always remembered their special days.
Can anyone else relate to the confusing emotions of losing a family member? Or just the way holidays bring out the sadness? I encourage you to take all of this to the Father today and experience the kind way he loves you and his offer to trade your sorrows for joy, comfort, healing grace, and forgiveness.
Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. KJV