I've been working on this post for a few months, trying to put into words how we are doing, how we are feeling, what life is like for us now.
The truth is that it is still very hard. I hesitate even to write this, knowing what Ray endured, and silently. And, we certainly have joy! Many times! I am so thankful for the girls and for all the joy we have together. For the team that we are.
But, though the terrible stages of grief have gone, I am many times still filled with loss. New losses, old losses. The pain of living a life alone you expected to live with the person you loved so dearly. The solitary nature of life as a widow.
I continue to be surprised by this. I think I thought that we would get a break after Ray died. That, having endured that loss, there would be some kind of heavenly pardon from the loneliness, the anxiety.
Far from it. In so many ways, I am continually challenged by difficult feelings and circumstances.
At a difficult time this fall a friend told me that when faced with anxiety, with very real what ifs, she remembers that God has a good plan for her family.
I grew up believing that God had a good plan for me, a personal and loving plan for my life. And I think I thought that meant that things would go well for me. That God would take care of me in the ways I know, by keeping me safe, and meeting my needs. However, the result of experiencing what we did was that my view of God's plan was altered somewhat; that God still has a good plan for me and our lives, but that it doesn't really mean good for me personally, more good for the Kingdom, good for the eternal.
And I am glad for his good plan for the Kingdom! Glad. Glad for the things we've learned, we've taught. And on the good days, I strive to do more, to continue to further His work for me, for the world.
But on the hard days, I really miss that personal God! That one that cared more about the personal good for me.
So earlier in the fall, I challenged God. I asked him to show me his personal care.
I wasn't sure what this meant. I hoped that it meant that he would lift some of these anxieties and circumstances! That good things would come! I would like his personal care to be like that for me.
And it wasn't like that.
But, on two separate occasions, times of trial, times of anxiety, I felt him there. And it was through others. One, a stranger, and one a friend. Both giving me what I needed to get through a very trying time, knowing that I was not alone. That God cared, not just about teaching me, but about how I felt.
And that was everything. It's not everything I want! More like everything I need to get through what God asks of me, which is a lot. And to get through knowing that God's care for me is that He promises to be there with us when we endure what we endure for the Kingdom. And that care I recognize. It was care I experienced through Ray's illness and death, from the loving hands of many.
And so I write this Thanksgiving post to say thank you. Thank you to the ones who in small or large ways have been Christ's personal hand to me and the girls in these very trying few years. For those who have lifted our spirits. For those who continue to reach out, understanding that while the rages of our battle with cancer are through, the battle continues always.
And, I write to myself and to all, that we just don't know when what we do means something big to someone else. Maybe someone who really needs that something big. May we always strive to be that Jesus to those we meet along the way.
To God be the Glory.
not alone and not afraid --
"But now, this is what the LORD says -- he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior."