I am so thrilled to be able to share another part of Rick and Tammie Wommack’s story here at Espressos of Faith. I know these dear friends from my time spent in the Marshall Islands, a time when their world shattered into unbearable heartache. For anyone knowing or currently mourning tragic loss of any kind, this blog is for you. It’s also for others to understand the journey the heart takes in these hard circumstances—and the hope and healing that come through giving back. Thank you, Tammie, for being vulnerable so that others know where to get their bearing again and what life looks like on the other side, each day offering a choice as to how we will let ourselves be used for good. Tammie’s honesty and humility are so refreshing. What she offers us here brings my heart to this exact place, and I can’t wait to bring yours there too, if you’re willing to give it a read:
Psalm 27:3, King David speaking, NKJV
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.
[After losing their son to suicide, Tammie and Rick made a choice to forfeit regular income and steady jobs to travel around the country volunteering. For Part 1 of this story, please refer to “Honoring Josh: A Mother’s Heart in the Aftermath of Suicide.”]
HOPE through FAITH and SERVICE to Others
Most of us travel through life just trying to get through it, not really realizing how what we do impacts others. We would like to think we are kind, generous, trusting, and all the things the Bible tells us a good and godly person should be.
The reality is we are busy: with work, families, finances, commitments, appointments, shopping, daily chores, and so many things on our to-do list that we are too tired to even think about how our actions, words, and deeds might be affecting others. I am confident that if you really contemplated this question and took the time to think about it, as I did this morning, you would find that most all of us impact others in our daily lives, no matter how busy they seem.
The questions then become:
Are we impacting them in a positive or negative way?
Are we showing them an example of Christian love?
Can they see Jesus in us?
The other day while we were traveling through Iowa, I received a phone call from someone who wanted to write an article about Rick and me. They wanted to know how we got started on our Volunteer Journey: how we find volunteer jobs, what motivated us to choose this lifestyle, how we fund what we do, etc. Most of all they wanted cute, heartwarming stories about the people we helped—something that would really tug at the heartstrings of the readers.
I didn’t have any of those—heartstring stories to share. We do not really see the impact of what we do, but we know it does not diminish the importance to us on our journey.
This morning, as I was doing my devotional, I thought about her questions and my response (I’ll share my response later). I still couldn’t really think of any heartstring-tugging moments that are a result of what Rick and I do. Most of what we do is rarely even seen by other people.
It does, however, have a impact on us. And that is the real story.
We are healing and growing in Christ, learning every day to be more like Jesus and to help others just as Jesus would if He were living an everyday, “normal” life.
We are simply living a lifestyle that allows us to find joy again—a joy that we thought would never be ours.
In our hearts, we believe that we are saving lives when we teach water safety to young children.
We are keeping God’s house clean and getting it ready for visitors when we are working at the campground.
We enjoy doing all the little, behind-the-scenes details that have to be taken care of so that ministers and counselors can share the Word of God and lead children and adults to Christ.
So many of our volunteer jobs are just that: jobs. But in the work, we find hope and healing, God’s grace, and, yes, joy. We find joy in everyday living and in the wonderful people we meet, in the places we visit, and in the personal and quiet knowledge that what we are doing makes a difference and is part of God’s path for us.
By societal standards, we are not successful: We live in a camper, drive a very old truck, own few possessions, have very little money, and, yet, we find ourselves happier than we can ever remember being. We are rich in the knowledge that we are saved by grace and are following God’s plan for our lives. Through this grace, we have found:
So my response to the interviewer that day was more or less:
“This is not that kind of story. We are not outstanding people on a mission to help others. We are not looking for praise for all the wonderful things we are doing. We are certainly not missionaries.
It is not a story about the people we have helped. It is a story about how giving back has helped us.
We are simply ordinary people who have suffered a tragic loss and found healing through giving back. The story is really just that simple! We did not start out feeling that God had called us to go forth and help others. Our journey is one of evolution; we started out just running away from home and memories, not really sure what we were seeking but still very much stuck in our grieving. We finally realized (not both at the same time) what we were doing each time we were volunteering was actually helping us to move forward through our grief in to a life filled with purpose and hope. We began to heal and find joy again. It was not overnight; rather, it was a gradual process. We are still traveling that journey but believe that if we have any kind of story to tell, it is one of hope through Jesus Christ and healing through giving back.”
2 Samuel 22:29, author unknown, ESV
For you are my lamp, O LORD, and my God lightens my darkness.
I suspect that our story was not what she was looking for, although she did say she would send it to her editor. We are not looking for the spotlight to shine on us.
Isaiah 66:2, Isaiah the Prophet speaking, ESV
All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
The only story we have is how this journey has helped us and, in turn, has helped others. That is what we hope to share and what we would like to spotlight for other parents and family members who are lost in the grieving process. Hope through faith and service to others will help you heal and find your joy in life again.
1 Timothy 4:10, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
A great resource for suicide prevention is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
To find out more about Tammie and Rick, you can read part of their story at http://www.gofundme.com/Giving-Back-For-Joshua.