A Little More Heartache

I was doing just fine tonight. I’d celebrated my sister’s birthday earlier and we’d all had a grand time (except for a food allergy scare with my nephew, but even that turned out fine in the end).

Then I saw a short video of my recently deceased cat Lucy kneading the pillow next to mine, getting ready for one of her patented naps. I wanted so badly to reach through my computer screen and pull her out if only for one more night beside me. My heart still aches for moments like these that I know will never come again.

I know that you can’t short-cut the grieving process, whether it’s for a pet or for a brother or sister, husband or wife, son or daughter. It’s not a process that you ever get through, but a process where you learn to live with a new normal, like an amputee learns to live without an arm or a leg.

I’m also learning how very deep the grace of God is. I’m learning that His arms are indeed strong enough to carry and long enough to save those who feel they are drowning in sorrow and grief.

I know that faith in God doesn’t always make the road easy, but it makes it possible. I’ve learned when you’ve exhausted all your own strength and peace and joy, God becomes your strength and your peace and your joy.

Strength doesn’t mean the absence of weakness but persistence in the presence of it. Peace doesn’t mean that there’s no conflict or storms, but the knowledge that God can still calm the waves and winds of your soul. Joy doesn’t mean the absence of sorrow and pain but the ultimate belief that God can transform those griefs into gold and work even the worst possible circumstances into something far more beautiful than you could ever have dreamed.

I’m resting in the strength of God tonight. Soon, I’ll go to the shelter and bring home a cat who won’t replace my Lucy but will honor her memory with all the love that’s still left to give.

God is still good, so I am still good.

 

At the End of the Day

At the end of the day, I’m well spent.

I’m still a little heart-sore over my little departed fur baby Lucy. It’s an ache that I know will never fully go away, but it comes with lots of memories that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

I’m worn out from hoofing it all over downtown Franklin after a full day of work. I’m especially looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow with no 5 am wake-up call to interrupt my dreams.

Overall, I’m still blessed. I’m even thankful for the rain for making me appreciate sunshine all the more.

“At day’s end I’m ready for sound sleep,
For you, God, have put my life back together” (Psalm 4:8, The Message).

Grace Wins

“You see, the reason why grace isn’t popular or easy is because it’s not cheap. To give grace costs us our right to be resentful and it robs us of our privilege to be bitter. After all, shouldn’t people get what they deserve, ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth?’ Jesus responds to that saying, ‘But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also’ (Matthew 5:38). Why should we allow others to slip away freely from their wrongs against us?  C. R. Strahan said, ‘Forgiveness has nothing to do with absolving a criminal of his crime. It has everything to do with relieving oneself of the burden of being a victim — letting go of the pain and transforming oneself from victim to survivor.’
Christ forgave the very men who drove nails through His wrists. And if the same power that raised Him from the grave lies in us, then surely, He can give us the power to lose, so that our aggressors weapons are rendered useless. We need to rob our enemies of the ability to offend us, by gladly taking the full brunt of their attack. It is then, and only then, that hostility is defeated and love conquers death. ‘Make allowances for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others’ (Colossians 3:13)” (Total Surrender, Matthew Terrill).

I think this nails it. In the current climate, whether it be political or spiritual or personal, it’s much easier to get self-righteous and morally superior over against those who oppose us and who seem to have diametrically opposite beliefs and convictions.

It’s much harder to forgive and to show grace, but so much more than worth it.

Always choose grace. Always choose forgiveness.

Thanks for All the Love

“I’ll love you forever. I’ll love you for always.
As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”

The memory will be forever etched in my heart. I sang these words over you and stroked your little head as you slipped away across the rainbow bridge. You took a piece of my heart when you left.

I miss you so much already that my heart hurts.

I will always miss the way you always made a beeline toward me when I sat on the couch. You’d jump up in my lap, curl up, and go to sleep. You were such a great comfort to me for all those 17 years.

I will always miss the way you slept on the pillow next to mine, snoring softly and keeping me company during the night.

I will always miss how you’d purr when I picked you up and held you like a baby. I’d give every single thing I owned for a chance to do that just one more time.

I will always miss your quiet presence, how you were always nearby. Even when I took my shower in the morning, you were always waiting for me just outside the bathroom door.

I will always miss the feel of your little paw in my hand when we held hands and you squeezed your eyes to show deep contentment.

I thank God that He gave me 8 more years with you after you survived an earlier bout with cancer. I guess this time we ran out of miracles, huh? I know that I don’t regret a single day with you and I’d go through every single bit of it again tomorrow, even the hardest parts like today.

I know you don’t want me to be sad forever. I know you’d want me to find another furry baby for all the love inside, never to take your place but to honor your memory that lives forever within my heart.

You will always be my baby and I will always love you. I will look for you when I too cross that rainbow bridge one day. Until then, I will see you in my dreams and thank God for you every single day for the rest of my life.

 

Living in the Now but Not Yet

I have several conflicting emotions at the present. My heart hurts over how my cat Lucy’s health continues to fail and she inches closer and closer to that rainbow bridge.

I’m also at peace and feeling gratitude over 17 years with her that I wouldn’t trade for the world. And yes, I’d go through all of it again (even the hardest parts) in a heartbeat.

How can you be sad to the point that you feel that at any moment you might burst into tears, yet at the same moment be filled with joy? I have no idea, but I’ve known both feelings simultaneously.

For every believer, there’s always going to be a tension between the now and the not yet, between joy and sorrow, between contentment and longing.

The fact is that we’re living in the Kingdom of God now but have yet to see its fullest consummation. Still the hope that carries us is that God will finish what He started and will make everything right and wipe away all the tears from our eyes.

I’m clinging to that hope with all my might tonight.

 

 

A Greater Joy

There will be times of great sadness in your life. There will be times so heartbreaking you wonder how you’ll ever get through.

I truly believe that God never gives us all the details about what’s coming up in our lives because that would completely overwhelm and destroy us.

I do believe that God does sometimes give us more than we can handle– in our own strength– so that we can find out that He is completely reliable and dependable to carry us when we can’t carry ourselves.

Most of all, I believe that beyond every great sadness is an even greater joy that awaits. There is one final and ultimate joy that awaits every believer, one that can and will never be taken away.

Above all, God is faithful through all the sadness and joy. He will not fail you.

 

Today

I have to confess that sometimes I get caught up in fantasizing about what might happen in the imminent future. Right now, I’m find myself thinking about the day when I say my final goodbyes to my cat Lucy and it’s heart-wrenching even to think about.

But that’s not a healthy place to go. I need to be here now, while Lucy is still alive so that I can truly appreciate every moment I have left with her.

I can imagine all sorts of different scenarios for the future, but it does no good for me now. And news flash to me, most of those scenarios never come close to becoming reality.

I think the saying goes that worry doesn’t add anything to tomorrow but robs today of its strength. You don’t gain any new wisdom or insight about anxious obsessing over what might happen tomorrow. You simply forget how to live in the present.

So once again, I’m writing myself a note reminding me to be present to the present and leave the future to the God who’s already there. I have no more power to change the future that’s coming than to add inches to my height (which might be a useful skill if it actually existed).

Thank you, God, for this moment and everything in it. Help me to appreciate it and live in it and give thanks for it and just be. Amen.