"…for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her." (Proverbs 8:11)
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As the Day Approaches

I can see the milestone on the near horizon. One year. A whole year. Where I used to count up—one week, one month, six months—now I’ve been counting down. Saturday will be 365 days since Craig passed. One year since my world changed. A year of transition, revelation, deep sorrow, and occasional joy.

One year.

Others have been counting, too. Friends and acquaintances have reached out this past week with words of comfort and concern. “How are you doing with the big day coming up?” “Do you have anything planned that day?” Their questions are rooted in sincerity and deep compassion. Yet, I found myself texting a fellow widow to ask, “Is it normal to want to punch them in the throat?”

I am an ingrate. But, grief is not logical. My friend affirmed my mudpuddle of emotions and shared from her own journey. The end of her message summarized so perfectly my feelings as I watch the days and hours tick by.

“There’s no such thing as an easy answer to these types of questions. If I say I’m doing well, then I’m lying. But, there’s no way for me to succinctly explain to you something you just can’t understand if you haven’t experienced it,” she wrote.

Yes. That.

Truthfully, though, I am doing well. Last week was marked by two days of crippling grief and brain fog. But, yesterday was brilliant. I watched a friend’s son get baptized. A mid-day video shoot for a long-time client went exceptionally well. In the evening, nearly 20 people gathered at my home for food and fellowship, healing prayer and a time of teaching in God’s Word. The day was a series of successes and cause for celebration. I cried briefly as I said goodnight to my absent husband, but I went to bed grateful. I dare say, I felt content.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

HEBREWS 10:24-25 NIV

Life is a series of mile markers. Some bring great joy—graduations and weddings, new homes, new jobs, new birth. Others mark times of sadness and loss. The death of a parent. The death of a spouse. The death of a dream. But, the journey does not stop at the milestones. They are simply indicators of the profound events that we’ve experienced along the way, and point to the road ahead. They shape our perspective as we look back and look forward while helping us to find our place in the present.

And so, I face the road boldly, and encourage myself with the promises in God’s Word. He gives us beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of despair. Yes, this is my temporary home. But, who knows what milestones lie beyond the next hill?

© 2019 Leslie J. Thompson. All rights reserved.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

ISAIAH 61:1-3 NIV

July 1, 2019   1 Comment

Sharpening Iron

As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. Many people think of this in the context of serving others, offering compassion and forgiveness, or helping someone with material needs. Yes, loving your neighbor as yourself can mean bringing someone a home-cooked meal when they are sick, turning the other cheek when a co-worker says something hurtful, or driving 45 minutes to help a friend with a flat tire. But it can also mean being strong when someone else is weak, and being courageous on their behalf.

Several years ago, our six-year-old cat Junior suffered a thrombosis on a Tuesday afternoon. He was lying on the stairs howling in pain and confusion, with his back legs completely paralyzed. I happened to be home that day and quickly scooped him up and rushed him to the vet. My husband Craig dropped everything to meet me there. The news was not good: Junior had only a 5-10% chance of recovery, and even if he did recover, he had a 90% chance of throwing another blood clot within the next six months. It was a genetic condition—nothing we could have foreseen and with no real cure—and so we made the difficult decision to put him down.
Junior the Cat
I cried like a child and fell into my husband’s arms. He was a rock, staying calm and offering me a steady flow of love and support for the next several hours as we said our goodbyes to a beloved pet, and then returned home and tried to step back into everyday life. Craig was strong and steadfast for me when I was weak and broken. Months later, he confessed that he was a wreck that day, too—that he wanted to cry and to be held as he grieved, but that someone had to be the strong one. Someone had to step up.

So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLV)

What surprised me, however, was when he explained that he had made the decision to be strong long before the event occurred. He had purposed in his mind and his heart to be calm in a time of crisis, regardless of his own feelings and emotions, so that others could trust and rely on him. He chose in advance to put me before himself, and he was ready when I needed his strength.

Going to Extremes
Fast forward to this past week, when I went skydiving for the first time. I have never wanted to skydive—in fact, since Craig and I first married 11 years ago, I have told him repeatedly that I would never in my life jump out of a plane. But last week, I went skydiving because I knew that someone else needed my strength. I purposed in my mind and heart to step as far as possible out of my comfort zone—to do something so extreme and confront my own fears and weakness head on—so that when a friend or even a complete stranger felt weak and broken, they would have a living, breathing example of courage and strength.

LeslieSkydive_FallingForward
My goal was not to encourage anyone else to skydive. My goal was to demonstrate that you can choose to be bold when you feel broken, that you can choose to move forward even when you feel bound by fear. Whether that fear is related to a relationship or a job loss or an addiction or a disability, it doesn’t matter. What matters is seeing first hand that you can choose to be strong, choose to be brave, and find the strength to overcome your circumstances through faith in Christ Jesus. When I jumped, I didn’t know who would need to see that example or hear that message, but I was sure that it would help someone move forward on the path that God has for them.

Be the Example
As children, we rely on our parents, siblings or grandparents to protect and encourage us when we feel frail. As adults, we are often called to be the strong one. We may feel helpless and broken ourselves, but Philippians 4:13 reminds us that our strength comes not from our own efforts or will, but from the Lord. Today, I encourage you to be an encouragement. Set your mind on things above by determining that you will be strong for someone else in a time of need. Reach out to a friend or loved one and edify them with your words and actions. Decide to love your neighbor as yourself by choosing in advance to be their rock.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2 NIV)

 

More verses on encouragement:

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. (1 Thessalonians 5:14 ESV)

Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:25 ESV)

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)

January 27, 2015   1 Comment