As I have been writing these ‘Tuesdays with Sarah’ blog posts, the topics and content have seemed to come quite easily to me. So as it was time to begin the post for today, I was drawing a complete blank. Then I looked at the calendar and realized what today’s date was – April 1, 2014. The first anniversary of my Mom’s passing. I thought, “Well, this is a no-brainer! I’ll write about Mom. Surely, I’ll have plenty to say about her and this giant event that took place in my life.” Boy, was I wrong.
I sat down at the computer last night trying to gather all the thoughts I’ve had over the weekend regarding this topic, and I hit an enormous brick wall. I sat for almost 2 hours with not so much as 3 sentences typed. I could not seem to put my thoughts into any type of order. I couldn’t seem to focus on any certain message I wanted to convey. It was very frustrating! It made me even doubt my feelings for my Mom or the quality of daughter that I am. Like maybe she didn’t mean that much to me?! Or that I was a terrible daughter if I couldn’t even put together a few thoughts for my dead mother!
So I went to bed. I prayed that God would reveal to me in my sleep what I needed to share today. I tossed and turned all night long. My stomach felt like it was in knots. I couldn’t believe what effect this was having on me. Is this what is called ‘writer’s block’? Eventually my body surrendered, and I went to sleep.
But as I woke up this morning, He was faithful to me as He always has been. Just like Psalm 30:5 says, “weeping may last for the night, but joy comes with the morning”. I still didn’t have a clear message necessarily, but those super negative and anxious feelings I had last night were replaced with positive and sweet memories of my Mom.
See, yesterday was super hard for me. It was the actual ‘day’ a year ago that I had found out that Mom had graced the threshold of heaven. It took me quite by surprise how many tears I shed yesterday. It actually made me feel like I was a weak Christian to be crying so much or to be in such a mournful state. I think that was actually the root of my ‘writer’s block’. Not that grieving is bad by any means. But feeling that grief is a sign of weakness or a sign of a lack of self-control is really unhealthy.
So this morning, God showed me that it wasn’t that I didn’t have anything to share about my Mom, but it’s that I have TOO MUCH to share! I have 36 years of wonderful memories, stories, lessons learned, and advice that this wonderful lady gave to me. Of course, she wasn’t perfect, but who is? And it seems as though in her passing, any of her imperfections have faded from my memory. Maybe that’s just a supernatural thing that God does to help us focus on all the wonderful 🙂
Since there is just so much that I could tell you about my mom, I decided to narrow it down and just share with you what I had written for Mom’s funeral. This will give you some insight into what her last few years had been like.
Psalm 46:10…Be still and know that I am God…
I have always loved my mom…but I was always a daddy’s girl. But once this daddy’s girl became a mom, I began to LOVE my mom. I saw her through an entirely different lens. She wore so many hats-chef, maid, laundry lady, nurse, ref, chauffeur, cheerleader-and she wore them all well. I just didn’t realize how well she wore them until it was my turn. She was selfless and humble, always putting us 3 Clements girls first.
For the past 8 years, my mom has been sick with different health issues. It was very hard for me because we lived so far away for most of that time. I tried to use the one tool I knew I could use from a distance…and that was prayer. I prayed for the Lord to just show Momma that she wasn’t alone. That He was with her and He hurt with her. I prayed that she would have some sort of an encounter with Him to renew her hope. And of course, He didn’t let me down. One day Momma called me and said, “Sarah, God talked to me. I heard His voice.” She proceeded to tell me that in the midst of one of her violent nausea attacks, she got into a super-hot shower, like she did often, which seemed to bring her relief. And in that shower at Raintree Apartments in Center Point, He told her “Be still, Brenda, and know that I am God.” She said that immediately she felt her nausea fade away and it was replaced with sweet peace.
I wish I could say that she was never sick again, but that’s not true. The difference, though, was that through the other tough times, she knew she wasn’t alone. Her hope had been renewed. She had encountered her Lord and she was never the same again. That verse is now everywhere in her apartment.
What I am thrilled about is that these last two years, my mom has been extremely happy. She thoroughly enjoyed her work-especially her boss Steve Reynolds, who she has worked with for about 18 years, who took care of her like she was his mom. And Sherri, who although a co-worker, she was her best friend who Mom spoke of to us girls constantly. And of course, there are the grandchildren. Nothing brought a smile to my Momma’s face like these 5 little people. She finally seemed to be well. These turn of events have surely shocked me to my core, but I think maybe the Lord saw how much fun my mom was having down here and He just wanted to experience that with her face to face. And now the God that met her years ago in the shower is dancing with her on streets of gold.
Just in case you didn’t know, I’ve always been very involved in the musical portion of our worship services at all the churches we’ve been involved with. When Mom passed, we were appointed to Latham United Methodist Church. The Sunday following Mom’s passing was actually UMW (United Methodist Women) Sunday, and we had an entire girl worship band. We also had a female guest speaker, a friend of mine, Rachel Bobo Faulkner Brown. Rachel’s story is phenomenal. She had actually been widowed TWICE by the time she was 34 years old! Needless to say, she knows a thing or two regarding grief and loss, so her message was super timely for me. But there was one thing that really stood out to me that morning. It was the song ‘One Thing Remains’.
The speaker and this song had already been picked out for the worship set a few weeks prior to this service and prior to Mom’s heavenly debut. I tend to believe that God gives you exactly what you need when you need it. I believe with all my heart that He is just as active in the small stuff, like song choices and speakers, as He is in the big stuff, like callings and appointments. He knew I needed to hear Rachel’s story that morning, as well as sing the song ‘One Thing Remains’. The lyrics of this song are:
Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant in the trial and the change
One thing remains
On and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never, ever, have to be afraid
One thing remains
Your love never fails, never gives up
Never runs out on me
In death, in life
I’m confident and covered by the power of Your great love
My debt is paid
There’s nothing that can separate my heart from Your great love
I have sung hundreds of songs, hundreds of times about God’s love. And I knew His love was more powerful than the grave – His grave – because He rose that beautiful Easter morning! But guess what? His love is stronger than the power of my Mom’s grave too. That might be silly to say, but it’s true. Something very powerful happened to me that day as I sang that song. I realized that His love isn’t just stronger than the grave 2000 years ago, but it’s stronger than the grave TODAY, and tomorrow, and “on, and on, and on, and on it goes. It overwhelms and satisfies my soul. And I never, ever, have to be afraid…for One thing remains…” As I led that song that morning, I felt God’s hands truly cup themselves together around my broken heart.
I’ve had several friends lose loved ones over these past 18 months. Actually, at one point I thought it was almost abnormal how much loss seemed to be happening all around me. But regardless, life happens – death happens. And I, by no means, am an expert on grief, as you can surely tell from the ramblings of this blog post! But here are a few things I do know:
First, grieving is okay. Own it. Cry if you need to cry, talk if you need to talk, shout if you need to shout. It doesn’t mean you are a weak Christian, it means you are human. Jesus grieved too 🙂 – remember the story of Lazarus?
Second, grief comes in waves. I’ll have months where I’m fine and never have one sad thought. Then all of the sudden, one little thing will cross my mind, and the next thing I know, I’m having a cryfest. And again, that is okay.
And finally, this life on earth is temporal. But one thing remains, and it is His great love for us. That love doesn’t keep the bad from happening to us, like death and sickness, but it stays right by our side, never letting us go. My boat may be rocking, but I know Who is sitting in the boat with me.