I began a conversation in passing this morning with a friend, and I asked, "How are you this morning? I haven't heard from you in weeks!" She replied, "Hi, I'm leaning." "Leaning?, I inquired. And I half teasingly pulled part of an old Gospel tune from my memory and said, "Are ya leaning on Jesus, I hope?" "No". She hesitated and said, "I'm leaning on myself!"
That began a conversation which slowly took us in a totally different direction. You see, I found her in a moment of total weakness. That dark, cold wave of grief had come sneaking up from out of nowhere and was trying to pull her into a darkness which, if not rescued, could consume her. Anyone of us who know the power of grief, know that its most powerful strength is that it never ends. It is like the ocean in all its glory. The waves at low tide are gently lapping on the shore, but can when the tide rises become angry and dark and threatening.
It is our prayer that those who walk with grief are willing to surrender their own need to be strong to the loving security and strength of those who love us.
The conversation turned extremely serious when she said, I am leaning because I am tired and want to be in Heaven with my "family member". My mind jerked into a serious mode and I began searching for words to hold her and strengthen in her moment of battling this unexpected wave of grief.
I began telling her stories that came to mind about my husband's parents, each who lived to the age of 90 years and 3 months. I reminded her of the comments, Mimi had made in her last months. She was grieving for the loss of her husband of 60 years and the loss of her youngest son to cancer. She often said, "I am tired. I am ready to go." And one morning she said, "I guess God didn't want me last night so I guess I'll get busy!" Bill would often say, you can't go anywhere. We need you to help us. We need you to be here for two new babies coming this summer. I need you to help answer questions about family history that will be lost when you are gone. We need you."
I told her today that I miss my daddy, my mom and many others. There are times when I crumble like a sand dune under the rushing waves. I lean on Bill to remind me that this is not about what I may think I want because of my grief. This is about God needing us to make a difference in the lives of those who love and care for in our daily life. This is about looking at the needs of others and seeing what we can do. We will know moments of grief returning and we will feel like we are emotionally leaning. We have one obligation for the blessing of this life we have been given. We are obligated to lean on others to pull us to shore, to strengthen us and help us stand strong, again.
I told the story of Bill's father who has been in Heaven seven years. I never met him, but I am able to see and hear his voice in the video made at his 90th birthday party. I shared his comment with her. Pup said, "Now, I know why I've lived all these years, it's because of this moment." He looked around the room and saw dozens and dozens of family members all there because of him and the love he had for Bill's mom. In that moment, he saw the immense blessings God had bestowed on him and he felt God's love.
I encourage you who know others who have known grief yesterday, a week ago, a year ago, ten years ago, to check on them in love. See how they are doing because we know the wave of grief comes at anytime unexpectedly and can overwhelm those who long to be at peace in the presence of those they still love. I encourage you, if you are the one who experiences grief and find yourself "leaning" to please remember you have been blessed by God with a precious life. Reach out to a trusted loved one or a dear friend and tell them, "I am leaning, today."
She thanked me for helping her today and assured me she would be fine, now, and I thanked her for "leaning" on me. I thank God for allowing me to find words inside my mind and memory that seemed to serve as a balm of healing and a boon to her spirit. I am mindful of God's ability to work through the least of us in ways we cannot begin to imagine.
Dear Heavenly Father, When the wave of unexpected grief comes to knock us down and carry us to sea, please make us aware of our weakness. Make us willing to reach out to others to give us the strength we need to continue on with this gift of life we have been given. Help us see how we can use our loss, our grief to make a positive difference in others' lives. Lord, help us survive the cold, dark waves of grief by leaning on someone we trust. In Jesus' Name, Amen