Sadly, as I continue to be in contact and friendship with grieving moms and those who have suffered the loss of someone they love, I have witnessed far too many failed relationships and marriages that did not survive the journey through the "valley of the shadow of death."
I have also become aware that those who suffer pain and loss can easily get confused, bitter and crippled by their pain. We, as grievers, can also become somewhat delusional and out of touch with reality, entering a realm of denial, self-deception and self-protecting, creating more chaos and pain for ourselves, because of unresolved misunderstandings, conflicts and challenges.
My heart is especially heavy this morning concerning moms I love deeply who are suffering, and who may have to make some difficult decisions in the near future concerning their marriages and their families. 13 years out from the loss of our son, Kevin, I see things so differently than I did, when I wast first walking where these precious women are walking now.
As I entered the "valley of the shadow of death," I limped along ill-equipped for the journey. Though I had the "knowledge" and hope of God's Word in my heart, I did not always have His "wisdom" nor did I have His merciful spirt of love, forgiveness and grace woven into my broken heart. I experienced what I believed then to be "righteous anger" against those I thought had wronged and failed me before, during or after Kevin's death and I lashed out and regret the lashings and the outcome of my obsession with my loss and grief. This only lasted for a short time, but the damage was done nevertheless.
At this point in my life, I can honestly say that I am at "peace with everyone," which is the call of our Father who encourages us "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." (Romans 12:18). I believe this is because I have healed, because I no longer have a need to protect myself or to justify or give a response from my point of view, and I do not use the precious Word of God to try to convince or convict anyone to be who I think they should be or do what I think they should do.
Because of my journey through the "valley," I now see and understand myself and others much better under the light of Christ, and I am no longer simply a truth-teller, but a "peacemaker." I am at peace, resting and wallering in the love and peace of God as never before, and I believe that I am finally on the right side of things.
One of my close friends was recently remarried, after being a widow for more than a decade. At the wedding, she and her new husband posted a welcome sign for their now blended famlies that said "We ask that you please pick a seat, not a side." Can we even imagine what life would be like, if we all lived with this instruction written on our heart and that the side we "picked" would always be the side of love, forgivness and grace?
Today, I am especially thanking God that I have recently reconciled with a treasured, lifelong friend after years of being estranged from one another following Kevin's death. I am also thanking God that my marriage of 49 years this June did not fail, though after the loss of our son, I was sure we would end in divorce. I am especially thanking God that by His grace, I have now walked out of the "valley of shadows" into His glorious light as never before.
My journey through the "valley" has been long and hard, but I do not regret a single step, except those that took me away from God's side - the side of LOVE, FORGIVENESS AND GRACE.
Who's side are you on today? Who are you sitting next to who needs your love, your forgiveness and your grace?
Picking a Seat Next to You,
Angie "a mom like you"