It's difficult to have an ancient faith in modern times.
My relationship with Jesus isn't something I want to hide; after the breaking and strengthening I've experienced this past year (2010) I don't think that's possible anymore anyway. But neither do I want to make non-Christians uncomfortable when they visit my blog. My blog is about me - and I am a Christian - but it is not a specifically a faith-centered blog.
That being said, I feel led to put down some of my thoughts about and experiences with God on this blog. I thought a separate page would be the best place; that way if talk about Jesus makes you uncomfortable, you can just click on over to my main blog.
So anyway, I'll update this page as often as I have anything relevant to say.
On June 18, 2010 - one month exactly after Graham died - I went to visit his grave. JB decided not to go with me (if there's one thing I've learned is that we all grieve differently) so I took a blanket and went by myself. I was calm and collected.
Will was still in the NICU then. We'd just learned he had contracted a staph infection; one more life-threatening thing to add to the mountain of challenges he faced. I had been frantic ever since I learned about the staph, begging God to please save him, even as I remembered the constant praying I did for Graham, and that God's answer then was no. My fear for Will somehow seemed even bigger than my grief for Graham. I reasoned that Graham was gone and I could work my way through that; but not knowing what would happen to Will was terrifying.
But I was calm as I drove to the cemetery, parked and spread my blanket beside Graham's grave. He didn't have a headstone yet at that time, but his grave is beneath a tree in a beautiful part of the cemetery - near a white statue of Jesus with his arms open, as if for a hug - and it is peaceful there.
I didn't really talk to Graham. I believe that he is in Heaven, that he is happy and surrounded by family, friends, and has seen God's face. He knows he will see me and JB and Will and the rest of our family, and it will seem like such a short time compared to what it seems like to us on Earth. I'm thankful I got to say everything I needed to say to Graham before he passed.
Instead, I sat for a few moments, and then just started talking to God. I talked to God about everything: about my fear for Will, about my anger over Graham's death, about mourning all of my carefully laid plans for what life would be like as a mom to Will and Graham, about my sadness that Will would grow up without his brother. I prayed fervently for Will to get better, for JB to be comforted and our marriage to be strengthened, and for our families to be able to work through their own grief. I prayed for all of us to turn to God to get through the hard times, for us to be surrounded by people who loved us and to find peace.
I thanked God for giving me a wonderful family, thanked Him that I didn't have to go through this alone, that I was married to my best friend, that I had a beautiful baby son still with us and that I got to have my other baby son for even a few days.
It all just came pouring out, for at least half an hour. I sat on the blanket in the heat of a June afternoon and told God everything.
When I said amen, I got up, got in my car and began to drive out of the cemetery. I felt strangely buoyant. I felt...joyful. And I began to understand what I've been taught repeatedly in Sunday School: that joy isn't just feeling happy. Joy is something much deeper, and it comes from God. It's possible to feel joy even in dark times. It didn't mean everything was magically OK or that I stopped worrying or that I haven't cried since then.
But I could smile, and I felt a lightness I hadn't felt in a long time. I sang in the car on the way home. My joy came from God, from turning everything - and I mean everything - over to Him. That seems like such a simple thing to do, but for some reason it can be hard in practice.
Joy is a funny thing, but it's possible even when it seems like it's not. And it's so, so worth it.