I’ve been thinking a lot about habits recently. Habitual ways of thinking. Habitual ways of living. Moving along through the days on auto pilot. Not stopping to think. Just… doing. And I started praying a couple weeks ago, fearful of the habits I’m creating now that will follow me later. So aware of the fact that I’ve been neck deep in sorrow and grief and suffering and affliction – trying to make some sort of sense of it all. And so afraid of those things becoming a habit and not a lesson. Cognizant of the fact that, if I’m not careful, they could actually end up hindering my faith rather than strengthening it.
So raw prayer has followed sneaky emotions in this recent holiday season.
Decorating the tree. Putting up two lonely stockings. LORD – teach me how to love that empty mantle. Why do most holiday traditions feel so empty and lifeless without children? Silly even. As I thought about that this morning, I also wondered how it will be after we have kids. IF we ever have them. What will it be like to suddenly have that answer to prayer? Has this way of thinking become a habit? Will I have to retrain my brain to be joyful? Will holidays forever yank at my heart because of this lengthy season? Oh for the days when sorrow isn’t continually on my heels, threatening to surprise me at any given, unexpected moment!
I flipped back in my journal to this time last year hungry to see some sort of forward motion. Eager to find a litmus test of growth, I was relieved to see the journey of healing. In black and white. Pen on paper. His faithfulness in every painful word. Because sometimes you don’t know how fare you’ve come until you look back to where you started.
(10:30am) Monday – 12/31/12
The last day of 2012. A new year starts tomorrow. I’ve given myself the month of December to just … be. And tomorrow I have to go about the business of healing. Ironic … so much of these pages are filled with prayers of healing.
In order to live … I HAVE to heal.
I struggled to find verses that sat well with me. That spoke specifically to the particular channel I was struggling through. Many verses on grief or broken heartedness referred to sorrow for sin – not loss.
Psalm 34:18 – The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart. Spiritual bankruptcy. Longing for the help and salvation of God. Not what I’m looking for.
Psalm 34:19 – Many are the afflictions of the righteous … deliverance … protection … again … not it.
Lamentations … Daniel … nothing is right. Back to Ecclesiastes. These words are right:
‘Sorrow is better than laughter, for by a sad countenance the heart is made better.’ (Ecclesiastes 7:3)
(8:00am) Wednesday – 1/12/13
I’ve been sitting here for 20 minutes and I still haven’t cracked open my Bible. I can’t … not yet. Midnight on 2013. The ball dropped. Everyone cheered and kissed. I cried. I tried to hide the escaping sobs as I rushed down the stairs and away from the rejoicing. I’m still in shock over how 2012 ended. I’m not ready to usher in the new year with all its excitement and possibilities. All I can see at this vantage point are missed moments. Time is moving along at the same pace it always does and I’m still stuck at November 23, 2012.
My prayer journal has simply become a journal. I’m not myself. But part of me wonders if I ever will be again. These kinds of traumatic events change a person. There’s a fine line between legitimately healing and using healing as an excuse to hide. I don’t want to create a new habit of … this.. but I also can’t rush through this either. Rushing through healing is actually going in the opposite direction of it .
It’s barely been six weeks.
I flip back to this time last year. Your Spirit was speaking. Powerfully. Loudly. And the warmth of my heart fills my body as I look at those words. Relief. I will get back to that some day. These days … I’m to just draw from the well we’ve dug together.
There’s a time to laugh and a time to cry … Ironically that’s also in Ecclesiastes. The only verses I’ve been able to read have been out of that book. Incidentally, it was Shawna’s favorite.
To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal.
‘God makes everything beautiful in its season. What consoles us amidst the instability of earthly blessings is, God’s counsels are immutable.’ (Jamieson, Fausset & Brown)
Nine months later (just a few months ago), I was enamored by that same word as I studied and prepared to teach at the Pursuit 31 conference. And the sheer depth of these verses. And what the truth of them meant to me in the last year:
For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, ‘Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.’ And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His cousel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have an an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizadek.