When we celebrated his 17th birthday, we had no idea it was his last.
Who thinks of those things as you enter your Senior year of High School?
We were all busy living life and enjoying the moments.
Until we weren’t.
Until on a beautiful summer’s night, our son never made it home.
And all the living and life stopped as I once knew it.
All the things I thought I knew, changed, in a moment.
Here we are 9 years later.
Celebrating the 10th birthday without our son.
10 birthdays have come and gone.
I dread the day when there will be more birthdays without him, than with him.
This journey is hard.
It is work to find joy and hope.
Each day we make choices.
We choose despair.
We choose to find joy.
Sometimes the joy finds us.
We need to keep our eyes wide open to see.
When trauma or tragedy strike, we tend to turn inward.
We want to protect ourselves.
We are raw and achy.
Turning inward feels like a shielding of our wounded parts.
But as we focus inward, we begin to miss the ways in which God is bringing about a restoration.
I do not pretend to understand the ways of God.
I do not understand how he allows the pain and suffering we see on this earth.
But I do know about His restoration.
I know how it feels to dive into pain so deep and then to begin to come alive again.
I have been on this journey for 9 years.
Trying to create a life without my son.
Learning to walk a path I never expected.
As I have taken my eyes off my pain, and onto Jesus there has been a shift.
Somewhere along the line we have equated living a good life with no pain or heartache.
Thus, also believing the lie that when suffering comes,
you have sinned; fallen short of the glory of God. . .
that you are no longer in his presence.
There was a period of time where I fell into this lie.
I prayed for relief from the pain of missing my mom,
my son, and then pleading for God to take away the cancer that was further threatening all that I knew.
I searched the scriptures for the ways in which I was sinning.
Where had I gone wrong.
What unseen sin was I committing that I couldn’t figure out.
That’s what they were.
How could this good God allow these horrible tragedies happen to us?
If I bought the lie, if you’re good, then nothing bad will happen.
This would be true.
I would spend the rest of my life searching for the meaning and trying to live a good life.
To my own end.
Or I could step into the truth that God never promised it would be easy.
He said there would be suffering.
He said there would be hard times.
He said that there would be pain and suffering.
Not “if” there is pain and suffering, but when…
Never in his word does he guarantee that your life will be perfect when you follow him.
Actually, he speaks often of the opposite.
He has promised hardship and pain.
Consider it pure joy my brothers when you encounter trials of many kind,
because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.…
A command with a beautiful promise.
A promise that God himself gives to children.
That which you are walking through will shape who you become.
He also said that he would never leave us nor forsake us.
He has promised to walk every step of the way with us.
He will never leave you.
He will take that pain and suffering, and he will teach you about his character.
He will guide you and lovingly show you his mercy in ways you never knew.
And he will send you a peace that transcends all understanding.
I stand on the promises of what I know to be true.
Words that were written before the beginning of time.
Elijah, I miss you every day.
I long to hear your voice.
I feel robbed of the “what could be’s”.
I want to have coffee with you and listen to your banter.
I miss our talks of spiritual things and I miss watching you wrestle through your beliefs.
I miss your sarcasm and wit.
I miss your blue, blue eyes and thinning red hair.
I miss your ideals and choices of music.
And I miss the beat of that drum.
I will forever be changed.
How can I ever be the same?
Yet, God has been working and moving all these years.
He is writing a story of restoration in my soul.
Showing me more of who He is.
Patiently guiding me through.
I am emerging, seeing life through a lens of deep beauty and much grace.
The words of an old Hymn say this well.
“Open my eyes that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free.”
God is still writing my story.
I am searching for the ways He shows up each day.
There is joy in this journey, even during the heartache.
Happy Birthday Elijah.
You are missed.