Friday, January 18, 2019

HAVE YOU LEARNED ANYTHING?



Last night I went to my first Group meet thingee – I normally do not do this sort of thing; I am by nature a loner and avoid group settings. I admit that on occasion I do go to fellowship meets, but I am always hanging out in the back pew or at the back table. It is enough for me to be there; I do not feel the need to be the front and center attention.

Anyway. At last night’s Grief~Share meet, there were only 6 in attendance – 4 actually, beside the program organizers, Jim & Cathy: 3 of us have lost spouses, 2 of us in December of 2018, and the other 2 lost a son this year sometime – and a spouse 2 years ago. We visited a bit to get a handle on each other’s backgrounds, and watched a DVD of how some people have dealt and are dealing with their grieving process. We also received a little study/journaling book that is supposed to help also. Some of the situations we went over last night to ponder throughout this week have to do with the effects of grief:

Effects on emotions and body (sometimes it feels like a grieving person starts to fall apart mentally & physically) * Effects on memory and concentration (I remember one time in September 2018, standing at the gas pump and could not remember my debit pin to get the transaction completed: all I could think about was my husband in ER and that I needed to get there fast; my granddaughter got out of the car and helped me finish up at the pump) * Getting “ambushed” by grief (comes out of nowhere and sucker punches you. A certain song, a specific place, a familiar scent, seeing a shared friend ... anything at anytime can trigger an unexpected and uncontrollable fresh wave of grieving all over again) * Adjusting to “secondary losses” (your first loss is the death of your beloved; secondary losses are loss of income, loss of purpose, loss of planned hopes/dreams, loss of identity, loss of extended family relationships, ect.) * Asking for help from others (a hard thing for lobos like me to do, but necessary) * Dealing with a spouse’s possessions (another hard thing to do; what to keep? What to let go? Do it alone? Or with friends? Quick decisions? Or drag it out for years?) * Preserving friendships (How much can you rely on shared friendships? Can you rely on shared friendships? Should you rely on your friends' husbands for help if/when offered ... or will that cause irreparable chasms in shared friendships now that you are "an available woman" again? Is it wiser to make a clean break and start anew with new friends that won't feel threatened and can better understand what you are going through and facing in your unwanted new life? This is a slippery slope that needs careful attention) * Dealing with loneliness (It never gets easier; so MUCH of your life was intertwined with your spouse, and now the tapestry has been torn beyond repair) * Asking God for help (Always! 24/7/365. all day long and through the night) * Rethinking identity and life goals (Now that "we" are currently "me", what can I do to move forward and have a fulfilling life with a gaping hole in it?) * Relying on God’s strength (The ONLY thing that will sustain me and get me safely through this uncertain and unwanted upset in my life) * Facing fears (Taking steps to get out of the house, mingle to a comfortable degree, and accept 'check-up' calls and drop-bys - for your peace of mind, and the peace of mind to those who love you and need to be assured that you are doing 'okay') How Grief~Share can help (Little by little ... step by step; those who are grieving understand your grieving and you can all help each other with insights and suggestions that perhaps you hadn't considered yet; or didn't know about because you have never been in this situation before)

Thinking on these things, my thoughts were pricked by a question my husband asked me in October 2018. Though he had been in and out of ER and hospital rooms at SJPH, the severity of his situation was beginning to sink in at this time and he turned to me on afternoon in his bed and asked, “Have you learned anything in all this?” At the time, that question didn’t really mean anything to me other than to think, ‘yeah … I am learning that stress kills. And we are going to put that house up for sale and get as far away from those 2 stressors as we can get!’ And I fully intended to do just that – called a realtor and had her on standby to the end in December 2018. Then in November of 2018, when we knew we were facing certain death unless there was divine intervention, my husband looked at me in the ER room at OHSU after the failed procedure to drain the pseudo-cysts, and said, “I don’t think I’ll be going home this time honey; maybe this situation is how God will work in our family.” That was hard to hear … and to face up to. But it was certainly a very distinct possibility, everything taken into consideration.

I honestly always thought I would precede my husband in stepping off this planet; I am 7 years younger, but my health was chancier … or so we thought until our lives took a serious south turn the tail-end of summer 2018. I was born with weak lungs and have a heart arrhythmia, as well as angina that I was diagnosed with more than 3 decades ago: the angina worried our dentist so much that he refused to do oral surgery on me when a cap broke off at the gum-line 10 years ago. So that broken cap is still not fixed – and won’t be. Another risky health issue. But what can one do when the person who can fix it refuses to chance it? Life – people have to roll with the punches thrown.

Perhaps my husband stepped off this planet ahead of me because Elohei knows time for anyone on earth is wrapping up and I have a job to do that no one else can do. And He doesn’t want that job hindered: it needs ALL of my attention. If my husband were still here, my attention would be divided – that is a certainty. So Elohim called him home. And He expects me to get busy getting busy with the job He has for me to do.

Reflecting on those conversations with my husband, and last night’s meet discussions; my thoughts today kept going back to my husband’s October question, “Have you learned anything in all this?”, and took on a whole new meaning; and follow this thread … my aim in ministering the Gospel, and the grace, of Elohei is not in ministry – my aim in ministry is to bring Elohei glory and honor, first and foremost. Above ALL else. And my follow-up aim is to bear much fruit for the glory of Him I gladly and humbly serve (John 15:8). So, if my purpose and goal in this life is to bring glory and honor to the lover of my soul, my redeemer, and my Savior … then I CAN DO THAT in ANY circumstance I find myself in; even while juggling the complex and unwanted grieving process.

I love to garden. I spend my Winter months preparing for my Spring veggie and flower beds. Fruit bearing veggies and trees require certain conditions to be successfully profitable. Fruit-bearing vines and trees will put out fruit in adverse conditions, but they will do much better and put out much fruit in rich and fertile conditions; they rely on organic conditions to bring healthy and purposeful fruit to favorable fruition. The certain conditions required to bring forth favorable fruit are fourfold (1) connection to the root source (John 15:vv. 1, 4-5, & 8). (2) cultivation/pruning (John 15:vv. 2, 6, & 8). (3) cleansed/clearing of debris (John 15:vv. 2, 8-11, & 14). (4) communication/interaction (John 15:8-11 & 14-15).

During a storm, a fruit bearing tree may lose a branch in the aggressiveness of the storm’s brouhaha; and that branch, losing connection to the living source, will just lie there and die, rotting away. It has lost the root source connection. We, as Christians, are the branches – Yeshua is the root source to the life force of Elohei. In this lifetime we will face many storms … some sweep in and swipe at us, and pass by with nary a scratch and perhaps a mild questioning, ‘what was that all about?’ Other storms, suddenly come at us out of nowhere - hit swift and hard, creating mind-numbing damage and leave broken lives in their wake. And we are left hugging our knees to our chests and crying out, ‘Why? WHY?’ But if we have stayed close to Elohim and are rooted in Yeshua’s mercy and grace, the storm did not sever us from the life force connection. We will, over time, spring back up healthy and strong … and bearing much healthy and prosperous fruit: some of the best tasting apples I have ever eaten have come from storm damaged trees. Hallelujah!

In the gardens and orchards, pruning forces life back into old and withered plants and trees; seemingly at turbo-speed. Whether the pruning be light or aggressive, it is necessary for renewed potency and sparkle as the life force rushes to, and focuses on, that pruned area, making it more productive and lovely. Pruning involves cutting, and cutting hurts: plants and people alike. But there is no way to get around those healing and revitalizing wounds if much fruit bearing is the desired end. And the praise belongs to Elohei Who makes a vibrant and productive life for everything possible when the dreaded shears are applied. When it comes to pruning, the old watchword, ‘pain is gain’ is an undeniable truth.

A clearing of debris, be it in our gardens, orchards, or personal lives is a must. Blockage and/or rot must be removed if clean and healthy life is to continue. We clean our flower and veggie beds at the end of each growing season to refresh the soil and remove the rotting rubbish; likewise, we clear the orchards of deadfall and suckers that infringe on and impede the health of the fruit bearing trees. Should we not pay the same careful attention to our personal lives and clean up those areas that need immediate and careful attention to keep us healthy and productive as well? We must if we want the sap of life (aka Rach Ha’Kodesh) to flow freely through our lives so we can bear much fruit of Elohim (Ephesians 5).

Just as we would commune with and pay attention to the organic health of our gardens and orchards – some verbally communicate, some communicate through gentle and ministering touch – so must we also commune with Elohei daily and LISTEN to the Ruach Ha’Kodesh’s wise guidance. Give yourself wholly to Elohim’s Will so you may bear much fruit. Ask for more fruit! We do not need to know His plan for our lives … we just have to stay connected to Him and submit to His hand on/in our lives; understanding that He knows best what is best for our healthy and prosperous growth so necessary to give forth much fruit. Allow his pruning, even if it hurts. Let Him cleanse your life of anything and everything that will stunt your growth or cause root rot. By doing these things, freely and submissively, you will experience the fullness of Elohei’s peace that passes all understanding. Rest and experience His soothing peace in the midst of life’s hardest and most severe storms. Bend, and bring forth much eternal fruit.

A Christian’s life is NOT going to every church function conceivable, or standing on every street corner crying out as John the Baptist did … though those things are not necessarily wrong things … but a Christian’s life is to live well FOR Elohei with the one life He has given us, so that when our life here on earth has come to a close we may step off this planet and hear, “Well done my good and faithful son/daughter.”

Ending this post with an echoing refrain: “Have you learned anything in all this?” I think it is safe to say that perhaps the Ruach Ha’Kodesh was ministering to my soul through my husband’s medical ordeal during those 4 months leading to his physical death December 14th, 2018. I am glad Elohei found me worthy enough of His attention that He took the time to call my attention to His purpose so I was able to lovingly and unselfishly send my husband home without undue concern for me, who was being left behind for a short while.