Christmas has always been my favorite time of year. Starting from childhood, I loved pausing on the everyday busyness of life to reflect on the blessings all around us. As early as I can remember, Christmastime was one of the most highlighted events in our lives. Our immediate family would gather together and Christmas Eve would be a shared celebration of siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents.
Just one more time
My oldest brother was always the entertainment and would have us all wiping away tears from laughter with his natural comedic talents. It was an incredible time with heartfelt memories. For years after my brother’s death, I would pause for a different reason, and privately wish for just “one more time” together as kids on Christmas Eve.
At the age of 26, I had never entertained the thought of losing a sibling, or a child. Two deaths within 19 days of each other brought me into uncharted ground. My brother died at 31 years old, my son at 4 months.
Growing up, the order of things always seemed to go as they should. Having parents outlive their child was a foreign concept to me and because of that, I was unprepared and caught in an unfamiliar world of grief and devastation, trying to navigate a new life with a broken heart.
Time passed as it does, and healing began to take place. My husband and I chose to try again at starting a family and we were blessed with four more incredible children. And although my children began the process of restoring the hole in my heart, I continued to struggle with satisfying the empty feeling of my brother’s loss, especially at the holidays.
“If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (Romans 14:8 NIV)
Trust instead of control
Wishing for something that could never happen was hindering my healing and spiritual growth. Living in the past doesn’t allow us to move forward and so I became stagnate. Although I was going through the motions in my everyday life, I was still lacking something.
It never dawned on me that my lack of control in the tragic events I faced was really a trust issue that I secretly had with God. The reality was, I wanted to be in control of my life and when I wasn’t, I couldn’t get past it. The pain from knowing that I was not going to able to see my brother or son on earth again made me disregard the reason God had for allowing those tragic occurrences to happen.
The process of trusting Him and His purpose was slow, but things catapulted quickly after my own devastating news. Hodgkin’s Lymphoma was not what I was expecting for my 40th birthday. However, I’ve learned that sometimes we get things we need in life, even if we would have never asked for them.
My diagnosis was the epiphany that I needed to stop living in the past and instead trust God’s plan for my future. Appreciating each day for the gift it is, with my family and friends that are here in the present instead of wishing for things in the past, was the wake-up call I needed to reconcile my unresolved hurts.
“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” (Psalm 9:10 NIV)
A new perspective
I still miss my brother. I still long for my son. However, what I needed to mend the crack in my heart is to focus on what’s in front of me. If God had given me “one more time” in the past, I would be missing out with my children in the present. Enjoying them in each moment of life the way I did with my brother when he was still alive is what started to make more sense.
Since my diagnosis seven years ago, my perspective has changed. Who would have thought I needed to hear the word “cancer” to learn how to release my control and begin to trust with my whole heart! Letting go of control, control that I so desperately thought I needed and wanted, has also eased my burdens.
God has it covered, so I can be at peace. I can know that what happened in the past has happened for a reason. God allowed it, and I wouldn’t want to change it because it had great purpose for my future.
If you like to be in control like me, or are in the depths of despair, don’t lose hope. Gaining new perspectives on life’s difficult circumstances can take time. Sometimes it takes unexpected things to shed the light on what God wants us to see. What’s more important is that God is in the center of the process.
Sisters, pause and pray for Him to take the lead! Such trust unlocks the freedom for us to live joyful and peaceful in the present – as a gift, from Him to us.
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21 NIV)