Walking through the grave site today, approaching my mothers grave just didn’t seem real. But it’s reality. As the cold air around me caused me to start shivering, the cold reality set in that it has officially been one year since my mother has left us.
For those of you who have texted me today to let me know that you are thinking of me, know that I am okay, and know that I have just been taking the day to reflect…
There are two ways to approach tragedy. One: feel sorry for myself and be overcome with anger and resentment. Two: choose to see light in a dark situation.
I’m choosing to see the light. Here is a reflection of what I have come to know through choosing to see the light in the darkness of losing my mother:
It is easy to pretend like you are okay until someone looks at you and says, “Megan are you okay?” Because in that moment you realize that you cannot hide from people, that sometimes your emotions are worn on your face. and for a moment, someone see’s you and knows that you are not okay. This tuesday, I had the wake up call that I was not okay. It was incredibly painful and incredibly unexpected. I had just arrived at work, got out of the elevator and onto my floor and saw a group of family members leaving a patients room. For some reason, seeing the family gathered to support their family member touched my heart deeply. I heard someone say “Happy new year,” and then grief hit me again, and my stomach kind of dropped. I was taken back to last year during this time, when I was laying next to my mom watching her take her last breath. As I remember her shallow breathing and her lifeless eyes, I found myself lost in thought, wandering into my managers office trembling with tears and becoming overwhelmed with emotion. I began to cry uncontrollably, losing my breath and pride.
Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
I used to understand pride to be a type of independence. It would cause me to ignore the wisdom of others and miss out on the benefit of their experiences. By being haughty, I felt like I knew better than others.Pride caused me to have over-reliance on my abilities, knowledge, experience, and insights. Pride caused me to think that only I know what’s right. Pride denied me the ability to be comforted because I was too proud to tell people how I was feeling or in fear that they would view me as weak.
This type of pride did not allow me to seek feedback or advice from others. In fact when others tried to give me advice or correction, I automatically felt defensive or offended. Pride mixed with a destructive lifestyle became a recipe for disaster because..
Pride resulted in me crashing and burning.
Pride caused me to be blind of the mistakes I made
Pride told me I didn’t need anyone to fix me, help me, or try to understand me.
Pride told me everyones opinions but mine were wrong
Pride told me never to back out of an argument, because winning was everything.
Pride told me that I was too good to ask for help.
and Pride caused me to lose hope in Jesus.
Ive learned that it is impossible to be proud when you are broken..
Brokenness is often the road to a breakthrough
When working out, your muscles become sore, because you great them down and they grow back stronger. In the same way, when we go through situations in which we are broken down, we grow back stronger.
It took me being completely broken in a million pieces and ripped of my pride to understand that the only glue that could put me back together was God through Christ. You see, it is impossible to have something stable without a firm foundation to begin with.
Ive learned throughout the years, that every good thing starts with a good foundation.Take ceramics for example. The first step for effective pottery throwing, is centering the clay to form a base. This allows for a firm foundation when attempting to raise the sides and form a pot. Failing to center the clay before you attempt to raise the walls, results in a wobbly foundation, which eventually tumbles into a mess.
The same can be applied in our lives. Without God as the center, we become a tumbling mess of chaos. In a marriage, children are often a couples foundation.. And when the children grow up and leave, couples without God as their center often find themselves with nothing in common and end up in divorce. As a woman, I tend to make my decisions based off emotion instead of fact. Doing so has called me to make irrational decisions or actions that I soon regret. But now I base my decisions off the foundation of the bible, off fact…
Like the fact that when we are baptized into Christ, we put on Christ
“ For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
The fact that I know when I was baptized into Christ and I put on Christ, guides my decisions and leaves me with a sense of Hope. I know that I am wearing Christ, when I am harming my body, or make decisions I know He wouldn’t approve of because He gives guidelines in His word, I am basically asking Him to participate because He is now a part of me.
I’ve gained hope by knowing Christ is a part of me because
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.”
The old broken me, has been mended into a new creature. and I grow in love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, gentleness,self control (Galatians 5:22) by living in a way that allows His light to shine through me.
The old broken me has been humbled back to Christ.
James 4:10 “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.
I never understood the term humble until I understood death. When I think of humble, I think of Philippians 2:8
“and being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted on him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.”
Christ humbled himself unto death.
Humbling myself has allowed to see past the “woe is me” and gain a new perspective. It has freed me of resentment. When its not all about you, death becomes easier to contemplate.
I used to have the attitude of always being right. But ive realized I dont always have to win every argument. Sometimes I am wrong and thats okay. Sometimes im not wrong, but a person needs to come up to their own conclusions about something..Sometimes the only solutions in a certain situation is not to be proud, but to humble myself through prayer and patience.
Patience isnt the ability to wait, it is maintaining a positive attitude while waiting.
I used to be lazy. It’s no lie that I took for granted a lot of what my mother did, and it wasn’t until she was gone that I understood how amazing of a mother she was. She was a doer, and literally did everything.
It’s not hard to find yourself drowning in resentment when you come home after working a twelve hour shift at the hospital to a complete mess in the kitchen and clothes laying everywhere. I used to think to myself, “this is so unfair, I shouldn’t be 24 years old, this busy, and having to take care of a family.They should be picking up after themselves, tthey must just be selfish.”
I used to leave post its for my brother in capital letters after folding his laundry saying “IM NOT YOUR SERVANT! TAKE YOUR CLOTHES DOWN STAIRS!” But one day I found a couple letters from my mom and in one of them she jokingly wrote “I wish you were here to load my dishwasher and do laundry.” And I realized that It’s an honor to step in and do those things for my family. Its an honor to do the things she did..And I should be grateful, because there are lots of people that come home to a perfectly in order house, with no messes, and a house that is basically not lived in because they don’t have a family. Or enough clothes to create a mess.And I found myself smiling that I actually had a family that could make a mess. And I had to realize that I needed patience because my brother and sister and especially my dad weren’t used to doing these types of things because my mom did it all.
Ive come to know that patience pays off. Having patience helped me to understand that my siblings weren’t selfish..My 16 year old brother may not pick up after himself, but he does do more than any other 16 year old I know. From picking up sister from school and running errands for us, and balancing football with school and grieving and other responsibilities, he has his hands full.
And I realized the less I nagged my family about helping, and they saw me just step in and do it, the more they would help. I remember the other day I came home and the laundry was done and my sister was loading the dishwasher, and I was so proud and excited. The other day my brother was getting ready to go to a friends house and he left but walked in five minutes later and said “oh i forgot it’s trash day, I came back to take out the trash.” He walked to the trash can and carried all the trash to the curb. Its the little things that make it all worth it, and the little things are seen by maintaining patience.
- persistent; stubborn: tenacious courage
Leading up to my my mothers appointment with death, I remember frantically grabbing her things one morning when she had woken up especially ill. The panic in my dads voice still resides in my head, as he looked at me and said, “This is a last stitch procedure Megan, this may be our last hope.” I heard the words he was saying, but they werent really sinking in. I remember sitting in the backseat as my dad grew in anger at traffic while we were trying to speed to the hospital. He had spent all morning on the phone with the doctor persuading him to try another stent on my mom. Moms ovarian cancer had moved to her liver and it was causing her liver to fail to filter properly. She had undergone multiple stent procedures but they kept failing. I remember this particular procedure, the last one, I was so afraid for her, but when I was walking by her bed as they were wheeling her into surgery, the nurse said, “okay time to say goodbye, we will take care of her,” mom noticed my tears and fright and squeezed my hand and smiled and said, “See how strong I am.” Mom was strong.. She was tenacious..Her tenacity may not have allowed her to fight another day, but it is something she left behind..
I have always been a tenacious individual. If I wanted to do something, I would find a way. This used to get me in trouble, because I used to hate being controlled. When I was younger, my tenaciousness led me to finding ways to sneak out, or skip school.. Or find a way to get a hold of certain substances I wanted. But losing my mother and finding Christ taught me to redirect my tenaciousness.
I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.
Instead of having the tenacious attitude that I can do anything by myself, I now know the value that Christ gets me through everything with a little faith. It may not be the way I want to get through something, but once I am through something, I realize that His way was the right way and His way turned out to be a way I never dreamed. and when I seek direction from the Lord, I find it.
Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually.
It is easy to find Christ when you open your heart continually.
I now know the value of being Tenacious.. Like Paul in bible, when he writes about pressing forward to the goal Philippians 3:13 “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
I am tenacious as ever, but I have a different goal in mind. Like finding my purpose in life.
We each have a purpose in life.
I used to walk around with a meaningless life. Half-asleep, busy doing things I thought were important.. But I realized I was chasing the wrong things. I was so hungry for love that sometimes I would accept substitutes. I would embrace material things and do things out of selfishness and expect love back. But it never worked. You can’t substitute material things for love or for gentleness or for tenderness or for a sense of comradeship.
Ive learned that the way to get meaning in life is to devote myself to loving others, devote myself to the community around me, and devote myself to creating something that gives me purpose and meaning.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
You see, I realized if I am granted to live another day, its because I have a purpose. We all have different gifts and talents, its up to us how we choose to use them.
Romans 12: 4-8
“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
The truth is that most of us would rather be served than serve. I remember being a waitress and I would become so resentful towards my tables that treated me like a servant. But I realized being treated like a servant should be a compliment. Because I am exhibiting a willingness to submit. Submitting to helping others. I love my nursing career because I get to exhibit Christ like behaviors. I get to go over the top for people who I know will never be able to repay me. I could do a half effort and still get the same paycheck. But I choose to humble myself to their every need, treat them like my own family, because Christ humbled himself to mine. Even if the people are undeserving.. I was undeserving, and look what He has done for me. Look at the qualities He has helped me develop.. like
Integrity and Self Assurance
“Don’t they see what I do for them? Reassure me, tell me that you are grateful. He would be so lucky to have girl like me.” These used to be thoughts I would constantly think to myself. But realizing that there is in fact someone watching me when I think no one is, has helped me overcome the feeling of needing constant assurance. It’s not to say that I don’t need encouragement or reassurance, because I am human and the human part of my needs encouraged. But the spirit part of me knows that in the moment when I am wondering if anyone sees me or realizes the things I am doing, there is someone that sees me.
Integrity is the act of doing the right thing when no ones watching. But to me integrity means doing the right thing because I know that God is watching, always.
Psalm 139:1-2 “O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
Part of reaching your destiny is understanding your detours
When you’re lost in those woods, it sometimes takes you a while to realize that you are lost. Sometimes, it takes something extreme for us to realize we are going about everything in the wrong manner. I was living the wrong was for awhile and didn’t really know it until I read:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely power and divine nature have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they know God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”
At first, God gave me up to my lusts. But I was presented with an opportunity to choose Him again. Through my mothers death, I began to question the purpose of life.. The purpose of going out every weekend..
It wasn’t until I was force to step out of the party cycle that I realized I was actually slave to it. I would go out drinking and wake up hungover, vow to never drink again because of how awful I felt. Then the weekend would come and I would do it all over again. Throwing money away, destroying my health, and always waking up feeling worse. Before my mom even died, I always felt like I had some kind of void. It wasn’t until the assurance I always found when I came home to her was ripped away that I found the true filling for a void.
My go to stress reliever used to be a glass of wine (or bottle) and a pack of cigarettes. Driving with the window down while smoking used to do the trick. Or going out with friends and drowning my sorrows running up some random guys bar tab using his hopes of getting me to go home with him for free drinks. Those nights turned into blurred memories and always left me waking up with a deeper void and full of regret. When my mom died, and I was left broken hearted and everyone else seemed just as clueless and lost on how to cope as I was. It wasn’t until I found Christ that my eyes were truly opened. I had to make every wrong decision and try every coping mechanism possible to discover that I could not function without Him.
Bad things would happen to me and I would blame it on bad luck. But was it bad luck? I dont think so. I think those things that happened were discipline. A father disciplines his child, wouldn’t it make sense that God would disciple us when we do things wrong?
Hebrews: 12: 6-10 “because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
When I reflect on my life, I realize I have learned so many lessons through discipline. And yea, it hurt when I was going through it, and it still hurts daily. But I realize each day I am growing stronger.
Crying doesn’t make you weak, it just means you have been strong for too long.
On the phone with my aunt as I was trying to catch my breath through my tears, as I told her I was so embarrassed that I left work, and so embarrassed that I let my manager see my cry, she said, “honey you are entitled to every tear that is falling, you’ve been trying to be strong for everyone else” and at first I thought no, I am just being weak, I am a mess, pathetic. But then I realized that crying is natural and much needed.
I always wondered why I feel better after a dramatic crying session. And it wasn’t until I educated myself on the topic that I again, see how amazing God is. . Of course, our bodies being the incredible design that they are, we don’t just make one type of tear – we make three: basal, reflex and psychic tears. Basal tears are the ‘worker tears’ and they keep your cornea (the transparent front of your eye) nourished and lubricated so your eyes don’t dry out. Then there are your reflex tears that help you to wash out any irritations to your eyes from foreign particles or vapours, like onions. Lastly, there are the ones we all know about, the ones I experienced, the psychic, or ‘crying’ tears. These are the tears released in response to strong emotions experienced from stress, pleasure, anger, sadness and suffering to physical pain. Psychic tears contain a natural painkiller, called leucine enkephalin – the reason I felt better after my huge crying session today.
Crying is perfectly normal.. One of my favorites, and the shortest and most beautiful passage of the bible, “Jesus wept.” John 11:35
Crying does not just make your face wet, or cause your non-waterproof mascara to create a two black eye type of look. It in fact, has a whole host of other effects; like increasing your heart rate, sweating, slow breathing, and the ever torturous lump in your throat – known as the globus sensation. This all occurs as a result of your sympathetic nervous system (that’s your ‘fight or flight’ system)..
This system generally creates a fight or flight response. My response used to be flight, now its fight.
Death is not the end, but the beginning. You cant have living without dying.
Suppose no living thing could ever die. Suppose that in the animal kingdom, animals are born and multiply and never die. Suppose that in plant life, plants live and multiple and never die. Suppose that humans live and continue to live, multiply and continue to multiply but no one ever tastes death. We see life would be unbearable. Suppose the aged could only become older, the distressed could only suffer more agony and the suffering could only hurt more intensely and nobody was able to die. Living would be a thousand times worse than dying. For the Christians death is loss only to those who linger behind. –J.D Thomas
For some reason, when I think of this quote, I think of the movie Tuck Everlasting. The movie that poses the question — what would you do if you could live forever? Maybe some of us would take the full advantage of living forever. I know a few years ago, I was terrified of dying. But, just like the writer writes in Tuck Everlasting, death is as much a part of life as living is and that it is not to be feared. It is a natural part of the cycle.
“After supper that evening, Tuck takes Winnie rowing out on the pond. It is almost sunset, and the bullfrogs are croaking as tiny insects “skitter” on the surface of the water. The scene is idyllic, and Tuck asks Winnie to observe the living things all around them. He explains that everything is part of a circle of life, “always growing and changing, and always moving on.” Although immortality had seemed like an amazing gift at first, Tuck now realizes that he and his family have been shut out from the natural process of life. Because of this, they are not really living. His fondest wish is to be allowed once again to experience growth and change, even if it means that at the end of everything, they will die.”
I remember when I watched this movie I was so surprised that Winnie decided not to drink the water. I think back to myself then when I had first saw the movie, and myself now. How much i’ve changed and grown with time. I used to be so afraid of death and that is why I thought Winnie was crazy. This time however, I’ve realized that Tuck Everlasting was less about avoiding death and more about believing in eternity despite its uncertainty. In the movie, we are forced to consider what it would be like to never grow old, to never die. Even if you aren’t religious, we are left with an ultimate message that is realistic. The “happy” ending, which occurs seventy years later in the epilogue, takes place in a cemetery, where Winnie has chosen not to drink the spring water that will guarantee her immortality, and had died a natural death. What that means to me is that she chose the hope of eternity..She was given the opportunity for immorality in this world, but Winnie chose to have faith in something more. I realized then that this is what I had been seeking all along. Faith in something more. Faith in life after death. Hope.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. “
Hebrews 11:6“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
In Tuck Everlasting, Angus Tuck says, “You can’t have living without dying.”
The bible provides the same concept.
Romans 6:3 :Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection life us. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?
It was not until I was awoken with the death of my mother, that I realized the good news of death. That it is release from a world of sin and exhaustion. That we have hope through gospel. That in dying to ourselves, we are born to eternal life through Jesus Christ.
The truth is that death will touch each of us eventually.
James 4:14“yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”
But it doesn’t have to be a loss..It can be a gain..It is rest at the end of the day for the weary traveler, nourishment for the famished and relaxation for the tired. “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their laborers: and their works do follow them.” (Revelation 14:13).
Mom was exhausted. The doctors failed attempts at restoring her health left her drowning in fluid overload and in pain. Although morphine helped numbed her pain a little through her last minutes, it was not until she died that she was able to rest. Yes I miss her incredibly, but the truth is that I know she is in a better place, and I know for her, dying was a gain, and her works follow her.
To live is Christ, and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21
The death of a loved one can become a great blessing to those of us who remain, if we are willing to accept the good that can come from it,
The other day, I stood in a patients room listening to his daughter tell me she couldn’t lose him. She had just lost her mother last year, and could not bear to lose her father too. A few days before that, a woman was in tears, frantically trying to figure out what the progress of her mother’s condition, and I just hugged her and told her I lost my mother last year, and I know how she is feeling. Had I not lost my mother, I don’t think I would know how to relate to these people. To comfort them in the way I have been comforted.
There is always light to be found in darkness, you just have to look for it.
John 1:5 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
I could look at this situation and think to “myself man this sucks, This is too much, I’m out.” And be overcome with the burden.. Or I could look at the light, the positive and see that I am learning how to cook, clean, time management, and gaining so many qualities that many of my peers are lacking. I’m learning how to be different, I am different, and maybe I can shine a light to others.
In closing, through my mothers death, I gained an entirely new perspective.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness.”
It is easy to see all bad in the world if its what you are looking for. Finding five blue things in a room becomes easy when you are looking for it. You begin to see blue everywhere. In the same way, goodness can be found everywhere. Perception is everything.
It wasn’t until I learned humbleness that I was able to respond to criticism without becoming defensive.
Finally, being humble taught me that its okay to not be okay. I am aware that I can be an emotional wreck sometimes, because I am human.
But i’ve learned that maybe people need to see me at my weakest, rawest moments, for them find hope in their lowest, weakest moments.
I hope one day everyone I love is blessed with losing the thing they love more than the Lord and reach their lowest point, to be humbled back to reality, because maybe then we will begin to understand that we have been chasing the wrong things… I know I was..
God bless. ❤
“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10