Once again, it is my great delight to share a piece from Tammie Wommack’s beautiful heart here at Espressos of Faith. Tammie lost her son Joshua in 2008 to suicide. Ever since, she and her husband Rick have been slowly healing and are passionate about sharing their journey, hope, and paths to finding peace and joy again with other grieving families. They are also fiercely committed to suicide prevention. Their story is an amazingly redemptive one. I hope your heart is encouraged and loved on by her sincere words.
Tammie and I first crossed paths in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, where we were both living at the time, rocked by different circumstances in each of our lives. God has reconnected us, and I’m so thankful for her courage, vulnerability, and willingness to be used by God to help others. May God continue to bless you, Tammie (and Rick)!
As Rick and I travel around this beautiful country, moving from one destination to the next, we eventually find ourselves heading back to Clarksville, Tennessee, for many reasons: our precious grandchildren who keep us young, our friends who have been a lifeline and anchor for us on this grief journey, business matters that must be taken care of so we can stay on the road, doctor appointments, etc.
Our arrival to Clarksville is always mixed with so many different emotions. My heart, mind, body, and soul begin to prepare days before we get to what I call the “Joshua Zone.” I brace myself for the overwhelming rush of emotions that I know I will experience.
Grief is truly a very rough and long roller coaster ride. For me, the emotions are always followed by the temptation to drink alcohol so that I cannot feel that rush of emotions I know await me as I enter the city limits. I feel like I have to be constantly on guard.
The length of time we stay and the number of our visits has varied over the years, but the feelings are still just as strong now as they were the first time we had to travel back there after Joshua died. It seems I am never really able to let my guard down until we are heading out of the city of Clarksville, Tennessee.
While I write about my grief often, I don’t always talk about my temptation to give in to the desire to just go numb and feel nothing: the desire to not allow myself to experience the joy in life but to run and hide from everyone and everything. Many of my past arrivals in Clarksville have ultimately led to me finding myself at the bottom of a vodka bottle or a unending glass of wine—totally emotionally and physically wasted in order to
not feel the pain.
My faith has allowed God to lift me from that scenario. He always carries me on a wave of His grace and His protection as I travel through a city where I see Joshua on every corner.
God has given me many tools to stay in my seat on this roller coaster ride of grief. He has kept me strong even at my weakest and has given me the ability to fight the temptations that would lead me to be consumed by my grief and yield to satan, the enemy of my soul, by way of the vodka or wine bottle.
Matthew 4:1, ESV, Apostle Matthew narrating
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
Jesus was led up by the spirit into the wilderness just after he was baptized by John. It was for the purpose of being tempted by satan in order to prepare him for the reality of his awesome ministry.
I am not in any way suggesting that I am preparing for ministry, but I believe that God calls each of us to love our neighbor as ourselves and to help
We have the ability to touch others in this life and make a difference every day, even if we don’t realize it ourselves. God can and will use us if we will let Him.
God has given Rick and I the opportunity to travel, and many times, He has put us in places to help others, reaching out to them in a way that they can understand and receive it.
Luke 10: 30-37, ESV, Luke the Physician narrating
Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.
Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side.
So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.
He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.
And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’
Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”
He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
We hear God urging us: Go and do the same as the Good Samaritan.
Rick and I want to use the opportunities that God gives us to help others like the Good Samaritan did—even if it is in the smallest of ways. We respond to these opportunities and situations because we believe God put us in those places for a purpose.
He has you in your spheres of influence for His purposes too! He has given us the privilege of doing this as we travel, but anyone can do them wherever they are: Something as simple as offering to listen to someone or to pray for them can be just what a person needs in that moment.
The last time we were in Clarksville, Rick and I enjoyed dinner at a local Mexican restaurant—not just any restaurant but my son Joshua’s absolute favorite; the restaurant contains so many memories because it is a place we ate as a family from the time Josh was 7 years old until he passed away. Some of the staff remembered us, which made it an even more special night because they spoke of Josh fondly, having watched him grow up. That small gesture by the staff is an example of how each of us has the power to make a difference in someone’s life—a difference that we may never know we made. I believe that God places us in these positions for His purpose and His glory.
Our latest journey has evolved from a volunteer journey (which we financially could not manage) to what I call: “Journey For Joshua,” a journey to honor and remember our son in different ways as we travel.
We feel very blessed even though this is not the path we would have chosen.
But it is the path God wants us to follow.
People today are so busy that they let so many God-given opportunities pass them by. Rick and I find ourselves in many situations as we travel that allow us to see what busy people often miss. Our lifestyle is a tough one sometimes; financially, we rough it many times. We work jobs where the combined salary we make in a 12-hour day is equivalent to what we used to make in an hour, but in that 12-hour day we talk and listen to others, now having time to recognize and acknowledge hurting people and to speak to their hearts. This is something we did not have or take the time to see in our other life—the one we lived before Joshua died. This life is so full of hurting people that need to be seen, heard, loved, and prayed for.
So what is the message in this blog that I want the reader to hear?
1 John 4:11-13, ESV, Apostle John writing
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
I hope you will take away the thought and the promise that
no matter how hard your grief journey is
and how fast the roller coaster is moving,
God can use your grief for His purposes.
He can fill your heart with so much joy and love that you feel compelled to share it with others.
I pray you will find hope in this and some of my other blogs and see that God can use anyone, no matter the situation. I pray that you will find purpose despite the pain, just as we have.
Remember: It is a roller coaster ride; you will have some really bad days. Just use the tools that God gives you in His Holy Word.
YOU HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
1 Peter 4:11, NIV, Apostle Peter writing
If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
I invite you to follow us on our Facebook Page Journey For Joshua.
Tammie has contributed to Espressos of Faith several times,
sharing her journey of healing and hope with us. I hope you’ll check out some of her other reflections. If your grief is fresh, it may be helpful to start at the beginning. Tammie is very honest, vulnerable, and real. More than anything, she wants you to know you are not alone.
If you leave a comment here or any of the blogs, we’ll do our best to have Tammie read and respond.
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.
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