I’ve been dealing with a lot of loss this year – in only the first 6 months! I didn’t realise it until Yahweh began revealing this to me during this week, opening up the wounds in my heart to spread all my grief bare before me.
Not all of the loss occurred this year, though. Yet, most of the weight and burden of it has been eroding away at my soul during these last six months – systematically chipping away at my strength and determination to maintain all composure and remain gathered within my being. I’ve been at war with myself to remain strong.
There’s been the loss of family, due to illness. My brother-in-law was diagnosed with liver cancer in December last year and passed away in January this year. I visited him, often. Each time it was to see less of him and more of the disease.
My mother-in-law was diagnosed with dementia in October 2016. For most of last year, I invested my life in opportunities to make those memories with her that I knew would soon be all the evidence I would have of her presence in my life. We visited her friends, had a birthday party for her dogs, went walking in her favourite park close to her home, had dessert and lunch at various restaurants, shopped for clothes and hurt our muscles with too much laughter at a family photo shoot that I arranged. During all these moments, I was aware that she was deliberately fading into a world into which I would soon not be able to enter. Her journey still continues to this day.
It’s been hard to let go of their hands.
There’s also been the loss of relationship, due to the effect of abuse on my life. I’ve struggled in relationships, to trust.
I’ve been dealing with the loss of health, too. The last three years have seemed long, difficult and debilitating, living with a health condition that has been plaguing me all these months. It’s been a 24/7 exercise in taking meds, adjusting what I eat, standing on the mountain tops yesterday, but falling low into the valleys today. I’ve lost count of the moments I’ve just wanted to concede defeat and grant this condition the win. Still, I’m persevering.
There have been more – more losses I’ve been enduring; the abstract losses that occur alongside the grander ones and found in places only the keenest of souls will see: the loss of emotional and spiritual strength, courage, opportunity, independence, belonging, boldness, confidence, assurance and hope – even faith.
Also, and perhaps even more deeply embedded within the embers of grief, the loss of life!
It has been a journey of holding on even while being compelled to let go. Holding on to the pieces of my life so that I don’t crumble at the core. Holding on to the familiar and the known to remain in the shadows of what is secure within my spirit. Holding on to the journey that has gone before in the hope that what is to come won’t still hurt.
Two weeks ago, I finally acknowledged that I was tired. Overwhelmed by all the loss, I finally succumbed to the grief and surrendered to Yahweh to enter into a season of rest.
I discovered that I’d been holding on to something else, too – my breath. In the days that followed my decision to withdraw from the busy and need to do, and just rest in the arms of my Saviour, I realised that what I’ve needed and yearned for most was the space and opportunity – the freedom – in my life, to just breathe.
In the beginning of this week, I wrote the following in my journal:
I am so tired of always being strong.
Right now, I just really need to be weak.
There has been a bend in the journey. This bend has led me to places in my heart and soul where Yahweh has opened the sluice gate of heaven and allowed the Living Waters of grace to come gushing forth. Freedom is, once again, flowing through these arid veins. The shackles of the grief I’ve been living with are, gently and carefully, being loosened. I’ve been granted permission to stop the doing, and just BE.
To be Zivah. Be me fully. Be me loudly. Be me boldly, courageously, openly and unconditionally. To – unapologetically – be me.
I’m breathing, stretching the capacity of my lungs and the density of my bones. I’m inhaling and exhaling – no longer holding my breath captive.
Divine revelation has come gushing forth, too: I’ve learned that I have cracks in the foundation of my soul, where the effect of past abuse still resides. And gaping holes in other areas, where the image of the old that I allowed the world to create in me, has been determined to remain in place – boldly proud and arrogant in its grip. Fake.
I’ve also learned that I have been too busy doing: bowing down to the expectations of others and the guilt that took root in my heart when they expressed opinions that clearly meant they were disappointed; taking responsibility for the suffering and broken pieces in the lives of those who were adamant they could make their own decisions, but then accused me of not caring when the suffering came and I didn’t run to their aid to help soothe it all away; and believing that others should take me seriously, when I wasn’t doing that for myself.
Clearly, I needed the rest! There are times to be Martha, and times to be Mary. Resting in Yahweh helps us get this balance right.
And so rest has come, and is diligently seeping its way into the contours of my being, creating a landscape of Truth that is fiercely chopping away at the cracks in my foundation, to repair heart, spirit and soul. Those gaping holes are filling up with grace abounding so deeply and surely in places within that only the hand of God is able to reach.
Each loss has brought a reward – renewal, revival, empowerment, growth, opportunity, lessons, strength, courage, hope – and even faith. Yahweh has been systematically emptying my hands of the old, to replace and fill it with the new, breaking down the self – the flesh – to fix and secure the foundation and build up the new creation in Spirit and in Truth.
Together, we have been warring against the lies, with the Truth.
I feel a bit like Job. You know? That guy in ancient biblical times who lost everything for the glory of God and was repaid even more than was taken from him – in trial.
Because with all that these losses have torn away from me, the hand of God has begun the work of steadily replacing the old with the new, the broken with the whole, the damaged with the repaired, and a double portion of everything lost – in trial.
He has steadily been taking me down the hard, sore path of dying to self. And raising up more of the new creation His hands sculpted me to be at the beginning of time.
These losses? They were all real. They were physical and natural and all part of the cycle of life on this earth. But mostly, they were necessary.
Another entry in my journal this week?
To achieve authentic,
you have to break down
the fake first.
He has been teaching my hands for battle. I’m learning I don’t have to be strong. I don’t win any battles when I am strong. I win all my battles when I am weak.
The process of grief – of dying to self – can be exhausting. But the strength that arises out of the ashes of grief can conquer mountains, slay dragons and set the captives free.
All for His glory!