For those that don’t know me well, I lost my pastor of 23 years in October 2013 to cancer. He was a spiritual father to both my husband and I. He was a friend, mentor, father figure, and pastor all wrapped up in one. He was a precious gift to us. Sometimes, we don’t realize just how much of a gift someone is until they are gone. Below is a picture of him blessing us on our wedding day on October 9, 1993.
Two years before losing my pastor, I lost my grandfather. He was more than a grandfather. He was my dad in many ways, my mentor, and my hero. He taught me to search for the truth and share that truth with others. I sat around his kitchen table many times over the years discussing biblical truth. He was a theologian at heart and passed on many of those qualities to me. I rarely did anything without talking to my pastor or grandfather first and asking them to pray about the decision with me.
It’s taken my husband and I a bit of time to heal from the loss of our pastor. Some say you should be over grief in a certain amount of time but I think we all have to walk our own path. Time isn’t something to be measured when dealing with grief. I’ve gone thru some of the normal steps to overcoming this grief. I was in denial for many, many months. I buried myself in work and schooling my children so I didn’t have to deal with the feelings. It’s amazing how the mind and body work while in denial.
Then I dealt with feelings of anger. For me, this anger was a low-lying anger. Angry with this world. Angry with our health care system, our food system, our government or anything else I could blame for the loss. Angry at the thief (devil) that tries to kill and destroy. I was trying to fix everyone and everything around me because I couldn’t fix the people I lost. Anger is another sign of the intensity of your love. It’s ok to feel anger and not sin. Feel the anger and let it go so you can heal.
While in the anger I would also go to the what if’s or the bargaining stage. What if this had happened? What if we had done this or that? We try to avoid the pain of the loss by questioning the past. We often go in and out of stages of grief.
This past May came the depression. When dealing with stages of grief sometimes the feelings can take hold suddenly. That is exactly what happened to me while visiting my pastor’s grave site. A sudden wave of despair so ravishing I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to be around anyone. I wanted to sit in my despair and be left alone. As I contemplated how to get out of this depression, I decided to return to my first love. Return to my God, the lover of my soul. Return to the only one that could restore my soul. In order to do this, I needed time. Time to be alone with God. Now don’t get me wrong, I was still talking to God, going to church, reading the Word but I needed some real quality time with God. You know, the time you take when you are first saved and all you want to do is learn more about God. Or when you are dating someone and you want to spend all your time with them. After marriage some of those feelings are lost. It’s often the same with our relationship with God. We take Him for granted and don’t spend time with Him like we need too.
So, I started by taking morning walks with God. This refreshed me, I felt less despair but was still not myself. My husband and I repainted our bedroom and I decided to get rid of extra furniture and make a special “place” in my bedroom to spend time with God. I bought a journaling bible. You can see some examples of bible journaling on my pinterest board. It was the best decision I’ve made. I absolutely love my journaling bible. By drawing or writing scripture, it reinforces it into memory. What a treasure it will be to someday hand down to my children. They will know more of their mother’s heart thru this special bible. Thru this time spent with God, I’m now transitioning into the acceptance stage. Accepting is the final stage of grief. I’m glad to finally feel less pain and more healing. Life goes on with those special memories of past loved ones. Their teachings in our ears & heart to guide us all the days of our life. I’m not one to share feelings in a public setting but God kept speaking to me in that still, small voice to share this openly. It has helped me heal further and I hope others can be encouraged to walk your own path of healing from grief.
Tomorrow is my pastor’s birthday. Last week was my grandfather’s birthday. As I have cried this week and remembered their words, I choose to celebrate their life. I am comforted by knowing they are in heaven and I will one day live forever with them. For now, I continue living this earthly life and carry on the legacy they left behind. I will celebrate their life on earth and always treasure the gift they were too me. Their teachings and the life they lived before me made me a better person. I am forever grateful.
“The years of our life are soon gone and we fly away.” Psalms 90:10 ESV
My bible journaling supplies: