My mother got better but my father passed away almost a month later after being diagnosed with cancer. It was quick. He was here one day and gone the next. We didn’t have much time to make peace with any of it. His kidneys began to fail on October 31, 2011 and he transitioned into his eternal resting place with the Father on November 3, 2011. 4 days. That was it; much too fast to say goodbye to a daddy’s girl’s heart. Life happened.
Later in the month of November, I found myself in the hospital emergency room with a sky high blood pressure. The pressure of mourning, loving, healing, working, and taking care of a growing teenager, started to affect my health. In December 2011, my son was back in the hospital having another sickle cell crisis. In January 2012, my father’s older brother died and in February 2012 I was laid off of a job that I had been on for the last 5 years. All the while, I remained a faithful servant in my local ministry as a teacher of preschool age children, ages 1-3. A succession of nights was happening so fast that the joy that comes in the morning seemed like a fleeting breath of nothingness.
So what do you do? I really can’t tell you any one thing that I did. There were people around me speaking life in to my very existence. Not that any of them had been through what I was going through in the way that I was going through it. No, God reserved this process just for me. I would say to a close friend, “I don’t know who I can talk to about all of this because I don’t know anybody who has had to juggle and balance all that I’m going through at the same time”. I felt like Job with none of his patience. I was done but I couldn’t give up. Not that I didn’t want to give up, I couldn’t. It was physically impossible for me to quit. And then it happened. Another friend who was going through the pain of losing family members back to back said to me “Hold on to your faith”. So simple but yet ever powerful.
There is an adage that says “When you get at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on”. I always question what do you do when your grip starts slipping? What do you do when the knot starts to unravel? I say let go. Yes. LET GO. Let go and free fall into God. Tumble, glide, jump, leap, sail, dive, into the arms of the loving, patient, all-knowing God. It may not be as graceful as an Olympic diver’s dive. It may, in fact, look like you are jumping from a skyscraper that is ablaze. Do whatever you have to do to allow the Great Jehovah to catch you. It is a scary feeling. It is terrifying. You have to learn to trust that the God that allowed the trouble to hit is the same God whose name is above every name. He is the same God above every situation. He is the same God above sickness, disease, and even death. He is the daddy of the daddy of the daddy’s girl. He is the protector and defender of the weak. I learned that when I am weak, that’s when I’m strong because the Christ in me is the Hope of Glory.
Hold on to your faith, but if you have to let go, let go in God. May your mourning be turned to gladness. May you dance in the knowledge and understanding that your test is your testimony. Not after the fact, but in the middle of your mess, someone is getting a message straight from the heavenlies. I’m learning that strength comes. You may fall apart and that is perfectly okay because the one who made you knows how to put you back together again. He is the King. You may feel like Humpty Dumpty for a short while but you don’t have his dilemma. You will be put back together again. You will be stronger. You will be healthier. You will be wiser. You will have more compassion. Your life will have added value. Life may have happened to you but you will have conquered the obstacles and earned the badge of honor. Yes you may have painful battle scars, but the end result will be a faith filled life that will encourage the next soldier. Keep pushing. Keep praying. Keep Believing. Hold on to your faith!
Rest. Easy to say. Hard to do. My body literally said to me “Go sit your behind down somewhere!” You absolutely will kill yourself trying to do a balancing beam act where there is no balance. The best thing you can do is lay down. You have to get into a space where you can clear the maze and race that is going on in your mind. A rest period every day is vital. There is nothing like a mid-afternoon nap. Even if for only 15 minutes.
Exercise also helps with this process. Take a walk or run, do Yoga, take an exercise class, ride a bike. Any activity that will increase your heart rate will help. This will cause an increase in endorphin's which help to lift your mood. You will see a return in your energy and endurance.
Let the tears flow. There is a cleansing that happens when you cry. Yes eventually, you have to dry your eyes, but you are allowed to feel the emotions. Feel every emotion. Good, bad, or indifferent, the emotions are yours. Humans are triune beings. We spirit, body, and soul. Our mind, will and emotions are housed in our soul. Even the Bible declares that Jesus wept. So who are you to believe that you should not experience the varying emotions that come with being processed.
by Nikki Johnson