Monday, November 21, 2011

Positives and Negatives

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

If I had walked into my doctor’s office last week, he would have diagnosed me as depressed. The pain of missing Peter had overwhelmed me to such a degree it has started to interfere with how I functioned – eating, sleeping, thinking, every area revealed imbalance. We had reached the point of “the final weeks” one year later. The strong memory that helped so much in managing the boys’ medical history now haunted me with dates, memories, remembrances of the intense chaos and struggle we faced as Peter’s body began its preparation for his homecoming.

I cried out to God.
I reached out to others.
And God answered.

Don’t you love it, that when you talk to God, he’s really there, really listening, wanting to answer?

God used a note I’d written of someone’s comments at my women’s bible study to catch my attention. The chapter dealt with emptying yourself of the pain of your past. My friend had commented one important step of that was to “not torture yourself – avoid the what ifs, the if onlys, and not beat yourself up over things.” Above that comment I’d written today’s key verse.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

The morning after my bible study, I processed through the conviction I’d felt the night before. I didn’t know what to do with the dread of the coming holidays. I didn’t want to miss out on my favorite part of the year but how could I enjoy it when my mind was locked in the year before. My Thanksgiving last year involved notifying friends and family that Peter would soon be passing. The day after Thanksgiving was spent supporting Peter and his best friend while they tried to say goodbye.

As I poured out my struggle and pain and thoughts to God, his whispers filled my soul. He reminded me of something he taught me earlier this year.

“The missing hurts so much because you loved so well.”

If Peter and I hadn’t had such an incredible relationship, I wouldn’t be in as much pain now. That thought had brought me comfort many times this year because it reminded me of all we shared, of all that went right, even in spite of the shortness of time.

So that morning God challenged me, “You have found something positive about your grief and attached it to that feeling or memory. So now when you face the missing, you cling to and remain grateful for that positive in spite of the pain. Can you not do the same thing with these memories you face? Can you not find something positive to attach to each one so, as you face it, you can still walk in gratitude and defeat the pain? For example, yes it was hard to hear Peter tell Mark that he would probably be dying soon, but can you not be thankful for the courage he had to do so? Can you focus on his courage instead of the pain?”

So that is what I did. I went through each day, each memory, each moment and found something positive to attach to it.

I began: Thanksgiving Day = courage! And, yes Justin and Peter had to say goodbye, but at least they had the 5 years together. Some people go their entire life without a best friend.

But soon my list transformed and I no longer attached positives to negatives, I simply listed positives. The negatives had run out. God was so present in Peter’s final few weeks. How could I not be thankful?

It was a start. My emotional balance didn’t return all at once but slowly, each day, I found a little more stability. As those thoughts rise up, the remembrances of the hard moments, I now answer each one. “Yes, that was hard, but God was there.” And I focus on the positive he helped me find, even while validating the pain.

I think it’s the exact picture of the line in the song “Blessed Be Your Name.”

Blessed be your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be your name

Yes there is pain in the offering, but the blessing still exists.

I know I’m not the only one who has struggle this holiday season. I know I’m not the only one who battles with hard things. So today I wanted to share with you my past week. I hope somehow it will encourage you. I pray you might find healing as I have by facing every painful moment searching for the blessing. Cling to that truth and give thanks every time the pain rises up. If you will take your thoughts captive and decide on your focus, you will allow the wound to heal instead of continually picking away the scab.

It’s a moment by moment battle. But in God, all things are possible. He promises to be your strength in weakness. Ask him to show you. He’s waiting to answer.

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