Grief and trials change us. But, it can make us stronger, too. I have realized this over the years. Here is how grief makes us stronger …
I had lunch with my cousin and old friend the other day. We really hadn’t talked or seen each other for over ten years. It is amazing how much can change in ten years.
We’ve both grown up and changed, but I see some of who we used to be still with us as well. She has three children here plus two in heaven and is a wonderful mommy. She is a loving, devoted wife to her man. She is strong. She is a woman. She is still fun and funny.
When we got together, it left me wondering. Who does she see when she looks at me? I was only 14 when she moved away. Still a quiet, awkward girl. Now I am 25 and feel aged, worn out, tired.
Some big changes have taken place since I was that carefree, giggling girl. I fell in love, I married. I was blessed to become a mother. I even got my GED and took a college course.
But, much more than that has happened in the last ten years. Cancer, sickness, death, struggles, pain, fear, worry, death again, financial hardships, sadness.
Everyone has their story. Everyone has endured pain and loss, I am not alone in this.
It can be easy to dwell on the negative. To ask “why me?”. Then I think “why not me?”.
I am no less or more deserving than the next person. And there have been tremendous blessings reaped throughout the years.
Through life’s struggles and the people God placed in my life, I have learned so much.
My mom suffered from cancer from 1988 to 2007. She fought active cancer for the last 4 years of her life. As a mother of eight children in 1988, my mom had brain cancer, brain surgery, faced death and then went on to raise ten children.
I know she gained blessings from her experience. She had such a strong faith. She knew and understood that Jesus was in control. I am sure she looked at life much differently after going through brain surgery and then living with cancer.
The last 4 years of her life were hard, very hard. She never complained. What she cared about was leaving behind her husband and children knowing how sad we would be without her, not the fact that she was suffering.
She lost her ability to speak or express herself, but she spoke volumes with her eyes and smile. She knew my oldest daughter (who was/is disabled and chronically ill) for nine months before she died and although she was never able to say her name, she hurt for my baby. She hurt for Joey and me.
She was in daily, chronic pain fighting cancer throughout her entire body and yet she worried and cared about us. I could see in her eyes the desire to make everything all better for us.
I have never, ever met another adult as strong as my mom. She endured much pain and hardships throughout her entire life and she was the most caring, compassionate, loving, forgiving, patient human being I have ever known. God used her to bring glory to Him. When I think of her, I think of what Jesus did for and with her.
And my oldest daughter. She is one of the greatest blessings in my life. And one of the strongest little girls I know. She shows us every day what matters in this life. Through her, I have come to know and love many other little warriors and their families. She has made us better people. She is our sunshine.
And our 5th child, our Elijah. Another little blessing. I’m glad he got to meet Jesus. I know it shouldn’t be this way, but having him in Heaven makes Heaven feel more real. Makes Heaven feel closer. It makes me want to go there even more. I know Jesus more because of Elijah. I am stronger because of Elijah.
I think the more you hurt in life… the deeper you learn to love. At least with Jesus, anyway. Without Jesus… I don’t know. I don’t know how anyone can survive without Him. Doesn’t seem possible.
So, the bottom line is this. I hope that when others look at me, they don’t see the tired eyes, the grieving heart, the 20 pounds of weight I’ve gained in the last ten years, or any of the other earthly imperfections… I can only hope that they see Jesus. Because without Him… I am nothing.