I get asked about these three topics a lot. I know that many of you reading this do not believe in God. That is completely fine and you are absolutely welcome here. I would love your ideas on how to cope with life’s harsh moments because we could all use more ideas on how to get through it. Not just surviving. Or coping. But actually growing and thriving and being able to enjoy life even tho we have had some hard times or excruciating times even.

So i’m typing away. (I have no idea if i will ever share this or not but it’s a journal of sorts for the thoughts i need to get down on paper. ) And for those of us who call ourselves Christians, this is particularly for us. As a reprimand. A reminder. An alter and a mark. To set our sights on. Because we don’t always remember whose we are. And i’m setting out to remind.

Let’s begin with grief. If you ask me the question, “What would you say or do for this person i know who is experiencing grief?” Be careful. Check your relationship. Don’t move past a position of friendship that has not been already established. Give lots of space. Never be pushy. Do all of the physical work needed to be done especially in that first week but not just then and whatever you do, don’t ask about financial matters. If you want to give then give. You don’t need to know if that money is needed – that is personal. I have had people give me $100 bills. Right into my hands. And i would tuck that money away and i always knew exactly what i would buy because i had many needs. I have been blessed beyond measure… but i have also been in want, and have been content with that. I could have even done with much much less and survived just fine. So give in love, prayerfully, and you will not go wrong.

If i knew you were grieving and i would write you a letter this is what i would say. Grief is like a giant hole. Your heart physically hurts and your soul is shattered into what feels like the amount of pieces you could never put back together again. You want to stop your life and possibly just not move for awhile. No showering. No eating. No talking. Just sitting. The shock seems insurmountable. But you don’t know it’s shock, you see, you feel like this is how you will always feel now. But you won’t. This will pass. You may feel pressured to pray or read the Bible or all of that good stuff, but just breathing is possibly all that you can manage right now and that’s ok. Don’t try to fill the hole. Just let it be there. It will dissipate… the intensity of these feelings… and whatever you feel all along the way is ok. The stages take long and each of them doesn’t feel right. There is no timeline and there should be no overbearing demands on your life. Maybe you could go to a grief share group. Maybe not for a year or more. Maybe you don’t want to ever talk about it. That’s all fine. Lean into God. The Holy Spirit is a Comforter and will guide you into all truth.

I recently sat in a church service where i was reminded that i feel regret over not telling Steve i loved him more right before he died. I did say it. I think it’s more how i felt inside towards him at that time. I wanted to love him freely but i didn’t trust anything he said and while i knew he wanted to be clean and serve God in that way i just didn’t know if he could. So instead of loving him i was thinking, “You can’t serve God and your addiction. You cannot be a great father while also doing drugs. I cannot trust that you want to reconcile when you are drinking every night.” It felt judgy and harsh. I believe he knew that i loved him and the thing is he doesn’t care that i said that or didn’t say that! Not now! He is in a realm of life i cannot even fathom and praise Jesus, for this unending grace. For me. For him. For you. For your best friend that just thinks you should get over it. Everyone receives it. Which brings me to abuse. Well, and addiction.

I am not the last word on these topics. I am not even educated or studied. I just feel like God has placed on my life a responsibility to share openly and honestly and most importantly to give God his due glory. He has never left me nor forsaken me. He always sees me and He always sees you. We are never alone. I could talk all day to you, in person, and i would never get done. A doctor once told me that i have this unique ability to see things from both points of view. I always saw it as a type of curse. The conversations in my head were more like arguments that could never be settled. God’s word has settled those arguments for me, and i feel like i have knowledge and wisdom i never had before. But unless i can speak to you in love and unless it feels like love i am as a sounding gong and a clanging symbol.

I care more about your soul than i ever have. I cannot be in public without wondering if that person is ok? Are they happy? Do they have enough of money? Are they addicted to anything? Does their family love them?

But let me be real clear. The only person responsible for your soul is you. No one else can bring your freedom. Your happiness. Your peace. Only you can work that out. Even if you have been hurt by the person you loved the most in all the world. You are responsible to forgive. There is no timeline, but only you can do it. In the meantime. Let’s be super aware that if we are not walking in an attitude of forgiveness at all times.. we will crush the people around us. Our hurt will smash them and smush them until they will no longer be willing to spend time in our presence. And that is not their fault. It is mine. And it is yours.

It does not matter what a person has done or how they have chosen to live their lives we are asked to still love them. To speak to them with respect. What the law says about them, how much or how little they should suffer for what they have done should have no bearing on how we feel about them. When a man or a woman is repentant, he/she will be willing to take the consequences meted out to them. We should not wish on them more punishment than what their choices have already naturally brought to them. Are you without sin? Are you victorious in all areas? We all deserve the worst of the worst, right? But we aren’t talking about what we deserve. We are talking about God’s plan for your life.

“What would you say to your friend if you knew she was being abused?” I have spoken to many women since Steve’s death. Some of them are on the best track they can be and some of them are doing nothing right. I am not going to interfere either way. The only people that can get out of abusive relationships are the ones in them. I was mentored and loved and i hope to return that favor as often as needed. I am not going to push you or tell you that you must do a certain thing.

“Stay close to God and he will guide you.”

Best advice i ever received. And once that sunk in for me i realized that praying my way through some dark days were helping me much more than reaching out to my mentor. I never wanted to cause my husband more pain than he was already experiencing but i knew i needed to safely get out of the way. I don’t know what your situation is.. but prayerfully.. and lovingly work your way through it. Don’t make rash decisions. Be sure that you live your day to day life in a way that you will have no regrets. Be as kind as possible. And it’s okay if you do not do it perfectly. I sure did not. But i tried my hardest to be the best person i could be even in that hard time.

This is not crazy. This is the word of God.

Be kind.

Be loving.

Gentle.

Patient.

Fruits of the Spirit. He will guide you into all truth.

Read your Bible and talk to God. Because i had young children while i was going through some of the toughest parts of our story i would save my Jesus time. I could not talk to God without crying my eyes out so i wanted to make sure there was nothing required of me. No one stopping in to see me. Etc. These hours i spent with God are some of the sweetest of my life. If God is guiding you.. this will not break you. It will soften you and make you a much better person. And hopefully, we can all find a way for our lives to strengthen us and make us better friends. Better parents and partners and family. God is not out to squash who you are. He wants you to know your real value and what He really thinks you are worth. You won’t know what that is, if you don’t read His word. God sees you. Every day, no matter what. He longs to have a real living relationship with you. Tell Him everything. Don’t hold anything back. You can trust Him.

And now near the anniversary of the greatest loss of my life thus far…. let me offer you a love offering. Thanking you for the years and life we had with the man who loved us the most. You gave him to us to love us and be with us and whenever we could, we loved him right back. If God ever showed us love it was through our daddy and we never doubted his love for his family. You send people to us still who tell us that they just want us to know that he loved us. He loved his family most. We love to hear that, but God more than anything we are so thankful that he loved you. He was broken but that is who you came to the world to save. He was lost sometimes, but you always brought him back. He was full of doubt and fear and sometimes confusion about whether or not You could love him enough, but i don’t doubt for one minute that you have now cleared that all up for him. You gave us two babies – no three babies, you blessed us with, each of them resembling their earthly father so strongly. I’m amazed at your presence in their lives already and i’m certain you will carry out the legacy of their daddy, too. Thank you for them! For the affirmation of love and life and blessing. Thank you for loving us and for placing us here at this time in this world. My purpose is to love others in return for the way You love me and also to teach my children that it is for the least of these. We feel Your love on all the days. There are no days that are void of it. You have healed us and shown us so. much. grace. I want to do the same.

I would love to hear Steve talk about heaven. He was very good at telling stories. Since that day when Emma thought she saw her daddy at the pool and then realized it was not him after all, i have been struck by the imagery of heaven and when we are reunited with our daddy. You see, he is with us all the time. Everywhere. He is never far from our minds and certainly not our hearts. So, on that day, when i enter heaven, too, i picture us reuniting with a hug that says, i know i just saw you an hour ago, but i am so glad to see you again. And then we walk around heaven holding hands together and pointing out the splendor that we knew would be there. That familiarity with a place and a time we have never seen but once we are there it will feel like home. Our ultimate home. The end and the forever. We won’t be long lost friends or strangers to each other. We will know one another because it wasn’t that long ago in the space of God’s time that we were together on earth. And it will be finished. Can you imagine that? Everything that we are on earth… all the brokeness and the striving to live right and good and faithful… to be healthy and take care.. it will all be over. A new place where everything will be fulfilled with perfection. Can you imagine that? I can! I see the healed. And i’m so happy for them. I would never want them back here on this earth. The ecstasy for them is far greater than the pain is for me. Because it is so short lived, my pain is. And soon enough, it will be over forever. Let us set our sights on heaven and run the race with joy! Death has been defeated. It has no hold on me.

Doesn’t mean i don’t miss him. Doesn’t mean i don’t wish my children had a father. Doesn’t mean that i don’t wish sometimes it would have turned out differently. Doesn’t mean i’m happy about everything all the time. Doesn’t mean i don’t still grieve his life. Doesn’t mean my heart is torn to pieces when another life has moved on, but i feel like i get it now. More than ever.

Much love, diane

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