Grief isn’t a land to live in, but a season to journey through. We all have seasons of grief. Strangely at times grief mingles with joy. Life is funny that way. This past weekend my family and I spoke at my mom’s memorial service. Grief was certainly present but it was mostly eclipsed by joy, at least in my heart.
My husband spoke on the legacy of faith mom passed on. My siblings and I gave examples of what that looked like in our lives. And my dad honored her well. This is what I had to say:
Mom was my first and primary teacher. She taught me about life from her example, not just through ten years of homeshcool lessons and bible studies.
Mom taught me that the word of God is powerful and important. She taught me to love books. She taught me that manners are for other people. She taught me that faithfulness and love are rooted in the nature of Jesus, not ourselves. She taught me that beauty matters. She taught me to be kind to creatures and people more vulnerable than myself. She taught me to marvel over nature, to identify trees, and rescue box turtles. She taught me to enjoy laughter and family and a good story. She taught me to appreciate the testimony of people who served as missionaries.
Most importantly she taught me that nothing satisfies our hearts more than Jesus. Let me say it again. Nothing satisfies our hearts more than Jesus. I think that’s what I loved most about our relationship, pursuing that truth with her together. My life is good because she taught me to be satisfied by Jesus. Above all else.
Mom was a beautiful person. Creative, kind, loving, fun. But years ago, for a season, mom succumbed to despair. Fear and depression at times overwhelmed her. There were moments when she didn’t know if she could hold onto God anymore. But out of that season was birthed great joy. When she didn’t feel able to hold onto God she found out he was still holding onto her. I watched that truth transform her.
And what had been her naturally fun, lovely, creative personality deepened and intensified, containing even more beauty, compassion, and kindness, and adding to it hope and joy. The love that attracted all of us to her and the beauty we saw in her came from a nature transformed by Jesus, in the midst of real life.
In the last week I’ve been thinking about the words to the song Through All Of It, by Colton Dixon. It captures her story well. Here are a few lines:
There are days I’ve taken more than I can give
And there are choices that I made
That I wouldn’t make again
I’ve had my share of laughter
Of tears and troubled times
This is has been the story of my life
I have won and I have lost
I got it right sometimes
But sometimes I did not
Life’s been a journey
I’ve seen joy, I’ve seen regret
Oh and You have been my God
Through all of it
Mom wasn’t a person of faith, that’s too fuzzy. We all have faith of some sort or another. Mom was a person of faith IN Jesus. He was her only hope. He has been her God through all of it. Through the brokenness and the healing, the loss and the joy, the sorrow and peace. He was and is the source of all her hope. That has been mom’s legacy in my life. Jesus satisfies. He still satisfies her, now more than ever. This is my comfort.
The day was amazing. The sanctuary filled with her favorite things. People from every stage of life present with us. An opportunity for her family to rise up and bless her. The service was closed with a clip from Loui Giglio’s talk Symphony. Mom had been so comforted on her journey by the truth that stars and whales praise God and we can join in that song of creation. And then God gave us a surprise! Loui Giglio himself showed up and spoke a message of Jesus presence to our family! It was a kindness we could never have expected.
Are you comfortable with sorrow and joy intermingling in your life? How has God shown you he is present as you walk through valleys of grief?