The first time I felt literally lost was on a red dirt road in the middle of Arizona with my husband and two young children. If I could choose two people to be with in an emergency, my husband would be one of them. That combined with knowing the need not to alarm our children are the only things that kept me from panic. I immediately thought about the cooler of ice we had that would provide us water should we be stranded in the desert over night. Mom thinking.
A few years ago my husband and I went hiking with some extended family. To this day the men won’t acknowledge we were lost but when you ask other hikers for directions you’re lost. It was frustrating. The map was useless as were our “smart” phones that were out of signal range in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The trail, such as it was, wasn’t marked or at the least, not marked clearly. The moderate 2-hour planned hike turned into a frustrating 3 hour search of the trail we had apparently lost.
Lost is not a good feeling. I get impatient with others. I shut down except to utter a few sharp words.
The kind of lost I feel today is worse. I know where I am. I am not in danger of the elements. My phone has a signal. I know the landscape, the streets, the faces. I just don’t know where I’m going. I am adrift, caught in the in-between. This is the place where emotions can take you under. And they are rising up in my eyes day after day.
It would be understandable if there is no faith to tether your fears to. But what is said of one who claims a faith in a God who cares? Yes, I play that through my mind. Do I think God to be a liar? His word says he cares for me – all of me. I know the counsel that friends and scripture give. I know the songs but this lingering feeling of being without purpose and aim haunts me like looming shadows.
I wrote those words in my journal last summer. That’s when the emotions of grief began to hit hard again.
I was in my 40’s before I realized grief could be brought on by more than death. Our life had taken an unexpected turn that had us moving from the state I’d lived in for 30 years and plopped us into a ministry that left me wondering how I would fit.
Since then, grief has often been my unwelcome companion.
There was leaving our son a long two day drive away with our next move. My father-in-law’s death. Family concerns and heart break. Then mama’s obvious memory lapses that eventually confirmed dementia. The following succession of deaths of a dear uncle, my mother-in-law and eventually mama.
It’s been a long 12 years and one that has found grief waiting at every turn.
This time it comes with the anticipation of retirement. Another surprise. Not retirement but the grief I didn’t know it would bring.
For months I was trapped with the thoughts of everything I would lose. I began to mourn the loss of place (this is home), position, the known for unknown but mostly I sensed the loss of purpose.
The tears came and I was overwhelmed with a sense of loss. The kind of loss you feel when you don’t know where you are. Like being on a dirt road with no signs in the middle of Arizona.
I journaled. I made a list of things I will miss about this place. I daydream about furnishing our retirement home and being 20 minutes away from our daughter and granddaughter. But I still feel an ache in my heart. I still wake in the middle of the night feeling a little lost.
Mostly I’m holding on to these words written by another familiar with grief:
“God was faithful before; God will be faithful now.
We weep for that which we have that is so good. We don’t diminish how desperately we will miss it. We let ourselves feel the ache because grief is good and necessary. And mixed in with the grief is gratitude for the undeserved goodness to have the gift of this life, this place.” Gina Butz, SheLoves
Let me feel my grief and cry my tears. It’s okay, I’m okay. God was faithful before and He will be faithful now.