Refined by Fire

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego could have abandoned their faith and it would have totally been understandable. Yet, these three men remained faithful, even though they had to go through the fire. Only after they were in the fire did they see His hand through it all. Here is what I experienced when walking through the fire: the intense fire of losing my mom. 

You will not be the same. 

Death had a way of stripping me of my busy life. My motivation dwindled and I felt like I wasted a whole year of my life. 

You will not act the same.

Most days felt impossible to find joy. I searched so hard for anything to bring me any kind of joy that I had in my life before death. Lots of mistakes were made which combined grief with regret and anger. So many things went through my head and it was easier to not care about what I did than have any sort of accountability. 

You will search for familiarity in all of the wrong ways.

I searched for this in old, destructive habits and past relationships. I would do anything that brought me back to the time periods when I had my mom. But, there are so many other ways to find familiarity. Living out her characteristics that I admire. Cooking the foods that she loved. Reading the books she passed down to me. Talking to her friends on the phone. Hanging out with my grandma more. Finding things in an antique store that looks like something she would buy. 

Your memory will suck, too.

This was one of the hardest things to accept. I barely remember this past year at all. My friends would talk about something that we did a week ago and I wouldn’t remember if I was there or not. Pretending that I remembered things became normal. I felt like I was living someone else’s life. 

Your motivation will be zero.

Not just motivation to work or go to class- but very simple things. Motivation to wash my face or go to lunch with a friend. Motivation to journal or listen to music. Motivation to prepare healthy foods or drink water. Motivation to pray and worship. Motivation to drive to the grocery store or clean my room. I had to learn how to ask for help for the most simple tasks.

Your faith will be completely rocked.

For the longest time, I felt completely disconnected from Christ. When conversations would include him, I would get angry. I stopped going to church. I would occasionally pray, but my prayers never felt answered. It was painful. As much of a chore that it seems to stay connected to Him, He was there. I know this now. When I reflect, I see His Hand in everything. He was stripping me. He was recreating me. He was letting me experience steep lows. He knew what He was doing. It sounds crazy, but I am so completely thankful for it now. 

Your health will suffer.

I lost a lot of weight after losing my mom. My hair started falling out. My face was constantly dry and breaking out. I was constantly dehydrated. I was exhausted all of the time but could never sleep. I was always sick.  Doctors prescribed me all sorts of medication in the highest doses- from Ativan and Xanax to Vyvanse and Anti-Depressants. Going from never taking any medication at all to having multiple doctors shoving pills down my throat took such a toll on my body and mind. I quickly became extremely dependent on these medications. I would cry to my friends about how awful I felt and I constantly felt like I was living outside of my body. I had friends crucify me for what I was doing and would tell me to just “stop”- and I had other friends who lovingly helped me, comforted me, and checked in on me. Most importantly I had friends who prayed over me and for me. Gratefully, I walked through this hard part of life. Drug-free. Healthy. Sleeping. Active. Thank you, Jesus!

People will not understand and that is okay.

For some reason, I would get overly frustrated when people would over-compensate to try and understand my grief. On the flipside, I would get just as frustrated when people were not sympathetic at all. I wanted a break, but I also did not want to be treated differently. I didn’t want to be treated like I was fragile, but I was. Even the people in my life who have been through the same kind of trauma cannot completely understand my experience, because it is deeply personal and unique.

You will unintentionally hurt others.

I would hurt others because I was hurting so badly. I was mad when people were happy or when they would talk about their family. My words were used very poorly. My actions were extremely complacent. 

Anger is hidden in all areas of your life. 

I became extremely irritable. I would snap on people at the smallest things. Forgiveness was hard for me, even for little things. I was constantly on edge. Tense. I was completely unenjoyable to be around. 

Every dynamic of your life will change.

Every. Single. Aspect. It happens so fast that you don’t even have time to process what is changing in your life. You don’t have time to adjust. You just have to keep going and learn as you go along. 

Your friendships will change.

The things that used to be important in friendships changed drastically for me. Being carefree, making memories, and being spontaneous were always things I treasured in friendships. However, after the loss, doing things became a lot harder. I felt guilty for having fun. I needed time to process. I started to value friends who would sit with me for hours and just talk. Or who would visit my family with me. I became a lot more sentimental. I needed to be cared for and naturally, I gravitated to these types of people. I learned so much. I learned how to have a healthy balance of different types of people in my life and I value each of them so much. 

You will feel hollow.

Like there is nothing inside of your body. Your chest will feel empty. Your appetite goes away, so there is nothing in your stomach. Your eyes sink. All of it.

Your house will not feel like home. 

Going home was so hard. There was always an emptiness about it. I would cry so much at the thought of going home. Something that used to be filled with so much love and laughter… gone. We all walked around like ghosts. 

You will not know how to accept kind words.

At one point, I had over 400 unread text messages in my inbox. I became overwhelmed. I was so appreciative of people caring about me- but I just didn’t know how to respond. I needed encouragement and love, but the only things I felt was sadness and bitterness for so long. I didn’t want another text message about how “this was all a part of God’s plan”- BUT I needed it. And even if I never responded to your text or call, know that I am more appreciative of it now than ever. Thank you. 

You will feel like you are letting everyone around you down.

I felt so useless. I couldn’t do anything. Hanging out with friends literally felt like a chore. I didn’t have the energy to carry on any sort of conversation. I felt like I had to entertain people. I usually have a pretty outgoing, go-with-the-flow personality, but I felt like a burden. In my head, I felt like people wanted to watch me grow through this experience, but I constantly thought I was digressing. Looking back, I know my friends and family just wanted to be there for me. They didn’t expect me to constantly be making them laugh. I know this now, I wish I knew it then. 

You will constantly think about what could have been.

This was probably the worst of it all. There are so many times that I wondered what it would be like if my mom was here, or the advice that she could give me in certain situations. It made me mad that some amazing people in my life would never know her. Then I would think about other things, like her helping me plan my wedding, or being a grandma, or traveling together. So many thoughts. This hurts the deepest. 

You feel like it will never end.

I constantly thought “Will this feeling ever go away? Will I be like this forever? Will I ever be able to have deep relationships again? Will my memory get better? Will I ever not need sleeping medication? Will I be able to eat again? Will I ever have joy again? Will getting out of bed stop feeling like a chore? Will my relationship with Christ ever grow?” It fades. I think about the crazy amount of strength it took to deal with loss, changes in family dynamics, school work, a job, failing relationships and friendships, guilt, sadness, mistakes, and going through many “firsts” without my mom. 

Listen, there are so many things in this life that can be considered a loss. It doesn’t have to be the unexpected death of a family member. It can be missed opportunities. Sickness. Lost friendships. Life as once known. Graduating from school. Moving to a new place. Divorce. So many things. There are things that will happen in this life that seem extremely unfair. You will compare your life to others. You will be angry. You will feel stuck. 

I want to share with you the very last part of 1 Peter 1:4-7 

“… and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

REFINED BY FIRE. 

Gold is purified with fire. It is actually the best way to completely purify gold and when finished, you have 24-karat gold. Biblically, we are compared to gold. The fire is refining us. It is stripping us of our impurities. What is left is our faith which will withstand any test. Any fire. Our faith is refined and purified. Unlike gold on earth, which will perish, our faith will be of great worth in heaven. The fire comes so we can see the genuineness of our faith. 

Romans 8:37 says this: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

We do not only overcome, but we are insanely victorious. Not only will we win in the end, but the Bible tells us that our trials will last “for a little while”- we have a power within us to conquer our trials now. Satan lacks the ability to take this power away from us. The Holy Spirit empowers us with His strength. We will always be victorious. Our faith stands firm, even when it feels so far away. Know the Word. Know what it says about fighting battles. Know deeply in your heart that your fight will be won. On the darkest days, during the heaviest night, when it feels hard to breathe, and when joy feels impossible- believe what God promises. Rest in it. The valley will not last forever. I’ve lived it and I can attest to it. Joy will be found in the morning. 

Psalm 30:5 ” …but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

I want to thank everyone who has loved and supported and prayed for me and my family this past year. The toughest year. A year I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Your faith, my faith, and our God is constant. He was there. I am so grateful for each and every one of you. 

 

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