I had a silent prayer on my heart this week. I had about three topics in my head to write about but no time to write them. And then in came this blog from my sweet friend Tammie. I had literally just tweeted a former blog of hers about joy 30 seconds before her message arrived in my in-box. What provision! Right on time!
Tammie has contributed several times to Espressos of Faith this year. I consider her part of the blog team. I believe so much in what she writes about that I have given her blog topics a board on my Pinterest page and regularly remind people on social media of her articles. She writes to bring hope, healing, and joy to those with child loss of any kind, sharing her particular journey of loss (to suicide), but what she writes is for all of us—because there is always someone out there hurting who needs us, and because we all know pain, sorrow, and despair from time to time. Tammie is an incredible encourager who wants to honor the life of her son Joshua by ministering to and loving on hurting hearts out there. She is an amazing vessel used by God to reach some of the most painful places a parent could ever go.
If this touches you, please leave a comment for Tammie. She genuinely wants to connect with you. And feel free to share, tweet, and pin her encouragement so others can read about finding joy again too.
— Bonnie Lyn Smith (@BonnieLynSmith) April 17, 2015
So many of my guest blogs are about dealing with the loss of my son Joshua. They focus on pain and grief memories and are—let’s face it—sad. Because it is sad, but, today, I want to focus on the joy that God has allowed me to experience in conjunction with and despite the overwhelming pain.
In those early days, I could barely breathe, let alone imagine that one day I would be happy again. It was like being at the bottom of a deep dark hole with no sense of direction or idea which way was up—
—and nothing to grab hold of to keep me from sinking further.
I couldn’t even imagine that I would ever find my way out. Many times, I am not even sure I wanted out; the grief was punishment for the guilt, but I will save the guilt for another blog. Today, my focus is on the joy that I have found with and through the love of Jesus Christ—and the many people that He used to guide me and surround me with that neverending love.
It is such a cliché that you find out who your true friends are when you are at your lowest because all of your friends are not necessarily part of God’s plan to help you. Many times, He sends complete strangers or people that you have not known very well. God places them in your path to help you pull yourself up and keep moving and to eventually find your way in life. Oh, not just to find your way but to find your joy again!
I cannot begin to name every person whom God has used in my life, and I won’t even try because, invariably, I would leave someone out and thus diminish the impact of actions big and small that gave me the strength, courage, and hope to find joy in life. I have had so many wonderful people reach in and have experienced so many acts of love, kindness, and encouragement that it would take a book to list them all. My goal today is to convey to hurting mothers everywhere that are in the early stages of this devastating loss that God is your handhold and that He will use so many people in large and small ways to help you.
Many of the people who helped me did it without realizing what they were doing, and it took me hindsight to realize that it was God’s hand at work. The author of this blog site (Espressos of Faith) is one example of small things that now begin to show up as part of God’s overall plan and in His timing. Bonnie was a person I met while living on Kwajalein, a small island in the South Pacific. I met her as part of a Bible study and later as the treasurer of a ladies’ organization that I volunteered for raising money for school supplies and other basic necessities for the children living on numerous islands. Our interaction at the time did not seem important or dramatic. We were friendly, spoke when we saw each other, attended chapel together, and shared normal interactions and prayer during Bible study. We were not, however, what you would call instant friends. God has allowed our friendship to grow and mature over time and, only in the past year, has He truly revealed how much He used Bonnie to help me heal and find the joy in life again. It is through my writing and blogging that I have been able to express and actually see it visually on paper and that I realize what a beautiful friend she has become and how God has used her to impact my life—then and now.
God is using Bonnie in a mighty way, and I am only a small part of her influence, but that small part is very BIG to me. It is such a shining example of how God uses the small things and seemingly insignificant events to work in His plan.
Romans 8:28 (NIV)
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. Who have been called according to his purpose.
Mothers who are there right now: I want you to understand that, in those early days, I was so mad at God and the world. The Bible did not hold any comfort for me. It was a place I tried to find comfort and prayed to find some relief from the overwhelming pain,
but I could not!!!!
But even then I held onto that Bible. I carried it on the plane with me as we flew home and tried to find the comfort that even in my pain and anger I believed was there.
Slowly (very slowly), I began to find comfort in God’s words and in the loving kindness of the people who God placed in my path. My prayer for you is that you will find that comfort too.
When I told him about my anger, my pastor once told me that “God is a Big God, and He can handle your anger.” No stronger words could be spoken, and if that is all you can find in this blog to grasp onto, then it will be enough. God is real, and He loves you. He understands your pain more than anyone else because He too lost a son. So, take small baby steps, and each day, you will find they are a little bigger. I personally hold on to God’s promise that I will see my child again in heaven.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NIV)
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
One of the things that provides comfort for me is imagining him worshiping at God’s altar with no more pain and sorrow—but healthy and happy in the arms of Jesus.
It has been and continues to be a long journey. The pain will never ever go away, but with God’s love and the help of many others that He will place in your path, you will learn to live with it and will be able to find your joy again. Life today is beautiful. I have another son, Brian, who is so much a part of my joy and six beautiful grandchildren who provide such overwhelming joy that it is almost impossible to contain it all within my heart. God’s promises are real, and if you follow His path, you will find more joy in life than you ever imagined.
Please feel free to comment on this blog, and I promise I will respond. Even if it is a negative comment, I will understand. This is a rough journey and one that is so full of ups and downs. Believe me when I say that I have been where you are. I understand the pain. I have tried to drink it away, eat it away, and run from it. I have even done things to sabotoge myself (not physically harm) and my reputation.
I leave you with the most important message:
God loves you, and He wants you to find joy in Him. He is with you, and He has a plan for you.
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 Giving-Back-For-Joshua.
Here are a few more places where Tammie shares her heart:
Honoring Josh: A Mother’s Heart in the Aftermath of Suicide
Journey to Joy: How Giving Back Brings Hope and Healing to Hurting Hearts
Would You Do Anything to End the Pain of Grief? Even Give Up Loving Memories?
Why Grieving Mothers Find Comfort in a Tattoo
*This post has been shared at Grace & Truth, Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-Up, Make a Difference Mondays, RaRa Linkup, Saturday Soirée Blog Party, A Little R & R, Dance With Jesus, and Christian Mommy Blogger.