Seven years ago, my world was flipped on its head. I was a freshman in college on a long weekend home when I found out my Nana was dying. I had a choice to make, go back to school as planned, or go to Houston with my parents to say goodbye.
I choose to say goodbye and ended up saying goodbye to my college life plan too. In the process of goodbye, I ushered in grief, anger, depression, and bitterness. I was a mess, but God was with me through it all.
How do you know that God is with you?
“You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart. I will be found by you”—this is the Lord’s declaration— “and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and places where I banished you”—this is the Lord’s declaration. “I will restore you to the place from which I deported you.” Jeremiah 29:13-14
Look. When the darkness is overwhelming, it is hard to see and acknowledge the bright spots within a day. As I packed up my dorm room for home, all I could think about was what I was losing. I was giving up the college experience, friends, possibly meeting my husband, and being a normal college kid. In the midst of those thoughts, it was becoming obvious that moving home in one car, when it took two to move me in, was going to be impossible. All I wanted to do was go home, cry, and be mad about all my hopes and dreams that were dying the process. Then a knock came. My friends of three weeks rallied around me and my mom and loaded my car quickly, filling the car, but fitting it all in. Then they circled around and prayed for our journey home, healing, and my future. I had to look beyond my emotions to see the blessing of what God provided for me in just three weeks. If God could provide such kind friends in just three weeks, how much more would He provide for me in this unexpected chapter? Do not be afraid to look up and see what is before you. Don’t miss the seemingly small but mighty ways God has provided and is showing His love towards you through the people and environment around you. He is there.
“Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil!” Proverbs 6:6-7
Listen. There are a lot of voices in the world, in the pain the loudest voices are the ones that are critical. When I arrived home, I was met with both compassion and criticism, but the harsh voices where the ones that I clung to the most. I held them close, because they were validating how I was speaking to myself. I felt weak and incapable of handling life. If I could not function in the face of loss, how could I live this life? I believed I was failure and I believed it more when people validated those thoughts. On one dark day, I received a letter from a woman whose son is my age. I had never spoken to her and was not close with her son, but she took the time to write about her own journey of losing someone she loved. She got down in the pit with me and reminded me that grief is to be processed, it is okay to miss my Nana, but God did not die for me to stay in the sadness. That day I picked up my journal for the first time in weeks and started talking with God again. Who you listen to matters. Thankfully God has provided us with people who point us towards Jesus, especially when we can’t find the way ourselves, and there He meets us. Those dark days of replacing lies with truth, talking and listening to God’s Word, brought comfort to my pain and helped me take one day at a time as I healed.
“A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:4
Laugh. Crying came naturally. Random outburst of anger and bitterness were common. The last thing I wanted to do was laugh. I think God sparks life in us every time we laugh. When we can put down our grief and focus on others before ourselves, we can see Him more. Jesus, others, then you. I do not think I truly laughed until a year after my Nana’s passing. I truly did not see the beauty in the pain. I could see God in my days and felt His comfort around me, but I did not like my new life. I felt alone in my emotions and behind in where I and others wanted me to be in life. There was no time for fun or laughter, I needed to prove myself. One of the gifts I received during this season was my friend Naomi, to know her is to laugh. She has an imagination and confidence in who she is that makes you want to experience life to the fullest. She taught me how to laugh again. How to surrender and let go, even when everything looks like a hot mess. Laughter returned to me through the community God has given me. We are not meant to walk through any part of this life alone and it was in laughter as well as tears, that I was able to experience joy again.
How do you know that God is with you?
Look, listen, and laugh, God is with you in whatever you are going through. Take time to look up from your emotions and see what He is doing around you and for you. Take time to listen to the truth speakers in your life and read His word, He has something to say to you in your situation. Take time to laugh with the people in your life. Engage in the community you have been given in your family and friends, it is there you will find joy. In the places we focus, listen, and laugh, we can rest knowing that God is with us in everything we go through.