billandmardy

Never Alone

Posted on: February 19, 2012


Hello Friends,

We are continuing in grace thanks to your prayers.

Below this mini-update is part of a note I wrote to a long-time friend who came with her family to console us on the first day. I think I can share it now.

As for how I’m doing, I think (I think) I am out of ICU now. I’m still crying every single day, but last Saturday I made 2 huge lasagnas (the best I’ve ever made), a huge pot of chili (I think it was my best ever, too), a pan of brownies, garlic bread and 3 gallons of tea for our niece’s 24th birthday party. We also had some of Bill’s family join us. And here’s the thing – I didn’t feel like my reserves were being depleted all day. I was able to do the next thing and the next, participate in conversations, listen to each one with real care, and love on them and serve them, almost like I used to. Almost. I did cry a little, but it wasn’t overwhelming crying. Last Saturday was a teary morning anyway (I don’t know why one day is more teary than the next, and I know that’s okay), so I was mopping floors and sweeping walks while crying as I prepped for the party. But, the crying I’m doing these days is such a gentle cry, like the letting out of a little pressure of grief each day, not that gut-wrenching sobbing that hurts so terribly. At the end of the day, I still had reserves for Bill and Joel, and I was ready to start each day last week without feeling completely exhausted. I think because I can now entertain folks in my (imaginary) hospital room and actually be more interested in their lives, their heartaches, their joys than my own heartbreak, it must mean I’ve gotten my transfer to a regular room. I still can’t go out to play – I can’t meet someone for coffee, I don’t want to head up my moms’ meetings yet, I can’t initiate anything. But, I am beginning to have a desire to meet other people’s needs again and love on them when they come, so I know that’s a good sign. I know I got out of ICU. And I know it is because of the prayers of friends.

With much love and appreciation,

Mardy

Hi Friend,

I will never forget you, your husband and your parents coming to our side the day we heard the news of Patrick. I think the Lord used your family, particularly your parents, to open my eyes to some important things, but I didn’t realize them until weeks later.

Remember when I told you my memory of watching your dad walk one of your sisters down the aisle about 25 years ago? When I saw the way he looked at her when he gave her way, I caught a glimpse of all the love I had never known as a child, and it made me feel so incredibly sad. I just sat there overwhelmed with pain, feeling like God’s step-child, and wishing I had been one of your dad’s girls. In your dad’s glance I felt the impact of my childhood, of being raised unhelped, untrained, unnoticed and neglected. I knew in that moment that your sister was never subjected to the sadness I had seen, and would not be subjected to the same mistakes I had already made in marriage and parenting, simply because of the start she had received in life.

I hadn’t remembered that wedding in years, but when I told you about that memory this past September, your response was to ask if that experience might have been a springboard for the ministry I have to young moms today. That perhaps those feelings of loneliness and neglect had made me acutely aware of how other young mothers might be feeling. The Lord really must have really been speaking through you because when you said that, I was able to immediately super impose an image of Jesus near me in that church pew, unsensed, unseen, completely unfelt by that young version of myself– but very much there. I imagined Him sitting just behind me, looking at my present self and at the same time at my future self, smiling sweetly, knowing I was going to be okay even though I never got to be one of your dad’s girls. That image changed my “reality”(that I was alone) to “truth” (that I was never alone), and since September, whenever I recall that wedding, I have been able to see the Lord very present, very close by me, and me totally oblivious to anything except my aloneness. That experience is important because it was the first time I have ever been able to see my very sad, very real past any differently than what it was.

Now fast forward to the day after we received the news of Patrick when another friend came to console us. I cried into her neck telling her that one thing that was stinging me so badly was that my precious son died alone. She pulled me back and looked into my eyes and said with conviction, “No, he didn’t. Jesus was with Him the whole time. Patrick was never, ever alone.” Immediately (and I mean immediately) I was able to superimpose the same sweet Jesus who I had just envisioned in my own lonely pain from 25 years before, very close beside my son in his pain. My “reality” (what the Tampa police had just told us) was changed to the “truth” (that he was never alone). My son may have believed he was alone, just as I believed I was alone, but in truth, he was never alone.

Fast forward again to Day 10 when friends wrote that I must accept both God’s sovereignty in Patrick’s life as well as His great love for him. Shortly after reading those emails I was able to also “see” Jesus with Patrick in the car accident, and then with him through all of the confusion and pain in the following days. Even though he could not sense Him close by, just as I could not see Him close by during that wedding, it became truth to me that just as He had been with me He was also with my son. The truth, “I will never leave you or forsake you” was super imposed over my reality.

Now to Day 23, the first day of that 4-day weekend alone where I received so much comfort from the Lord. Someone called that weekend saying they wanted to console me. It was someone from whom I truly wanted consolation and compassion, but it became quickly evident that they had only called to fill their need for details (why did he do it, exactly what happened, etc.). Their behavior was consistent with who they were and with our relationship, but their poking about my raw wound with the motive of having their needs met hit a very raw and painful nerve in my heart.

That night as my thoughts drifted from Patrick to this person, I started to complain in my heart and feel sorry for myself. The moment my thoughts went there, I sensed a gentle reproof from the Lord. I understood that I was already being supernaturally comforted in a way that no earthly person could. I was also receiving overwhelming compassion from the body of Christ which has spanned many denominations. The thought came, “What part of me is this comfort not enough for?” The truth was – no part. God’s grace has been shockingly and powerfully sufficient in this valley. I realized I was being foolish to expect comfort from someone who had never been able to provide it, while receiving overwhelming comfort from my heavenly Father who has not let go of me for one hour.

With that knowledge, I felt like I was supposed to, I don’t know, give myself permission to grow up into Christ a little more and let go of people who were not able to give what He was already abundantly providing. I read Ephesians 4 that night with new meaning.

While I was thinking about these things, I remembered Uncle Andrew from the Chronicles of Narnia. I can’t remember if you’ve read the Chronicles, but Uncle Andrew was an earthy man with no insight, no depth, no strong qualities – a little like the person from whom I was expecting compassion but not receiving it. I remembered Aslan’s tender, yet dismissive treatment of him. I’ll clip a part of the story below.

“Bring out that creature,” said Aslan. One of the Elephants lifted Uncle Andrew in its trunk and laid him at the Lion’s feet. He was too frightened to move.

“Please, Aslan,” said Polly, “could you say something to – to unfrighten him? And then could you say something to prevent him from ever coming back here again?”

“Do you think he wants to?” said Aslan.

“Well, Aslan,” said Polly, “he might send someone else. He’s so excited about the bar off the lamp-post growing into a lamp-post tree and he thinks -”

“He thinks great folly, child,” said Aslan. “This world is bursting with life for these few days because the song with which I called it into life still hangs in the air and rumbles in the ground. It will not be so for long. But I cannot tell that to this old sinner, and I cannot comfort him either; he has made himself unable to hear my voice. If I spoke to him, he would hear only growlings and roarings. Oh Adam’s sons, how cleverly you defend yourselves against all that might do you good! But I will give him the only gift he is still able to receive.”

He bowed his great head rather sadly, and breathed into the Magician’s terrified face. “Sleep,” he said. “Sleep and be separated for some few hours from all the torments you have devised for yourself.” Uncle Andrew immediately rolled over with closed eyes and began breathing peacefully.

When I remembered that story, I thought about the expectations I had placed on the person who hurt me each time they called about Patrick. I had wanted them, thought that I needed them to be less earthy, less simple, more compassionate. That night I was able to see that they were like Uncle Andrew, more like Uncle Andrew than I had wanted to admit. I saw that they might never be changed enough to experience – or give – true compassion. And it was okay. I was already receiving all the compassion I needed from the places the Lord had chosen to provide it.

One more lesson for me from the Chronicles. Whereas Uncle Andrew was never close enough to be able to hear or receive a rebuke, the children who walked closer to Aslan received gentle rebukes, gentle growls.

The great beast rolled over on his side so that Lucy fell, half sitting and half lying between his front paws. He bent forward and just touched her nose with his tongue. His warm breath came all round her. She gazed up into the large wise face.

“Welcome, child,” he said.

“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”

“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.

“Not because you are?”

“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

For a time she was so happy that she did not want to speak. But Aslan spoke.

“Lucy,” he said, “we must not lie here for long. You have work in hand, and much time has been lost today.”

“Yes, wasn’t it a shame?” said Lucy. “I saw you all right. They wouldn’t believe me. They’re all so -”

From somewhere deep inside Aslan’s body there came the faintest suggestion of a growl.

“I’m sorry,” said Lucy, who understood some of his moods. “I didn’t mean to start slanging the others. But it wasn’t my fault anyway, was it?”

The Lion looked straight into her eyes.

“Oh, Aslan,” said Lucy. “You don’t mean it was? How could I – I couldn’t have left the others and come up to you alone, how could I? Don’t look at me like that . . . oh well, I suppose I could. Yes, and it wouldn’t have been alone, I know, not if I was with you. But what would have been the good?”

Aslan said nothing.

“You mean,” said Lucy rather faintly, “that it would have turned out all right – somehow? But how? Please, Aslan! Am I not to know?”

“To know what would have happened, child?” said Aslan. “No. Nobody is ever told that.”

“Oh dear,” said Lucy.

“But anyone can find out what will happen,” said Aslan. “If you go back to the others now, and wake them up; and tell them you have seen me again; and that you must all get up at once and follow me – what will happen? There is only one way of finding out.”

“Do you mean that is what you want me to do?” gasped Lucy.

“Yes, little one,” said Aslan.

“Will the others see you too?” asked Lucy.

“Certainly not at first,” said Aslan. “Later on, it depends.”

“But they won’t believe me!” said Lucy.

“It doesn’t matter,” said Aslan.

“Oh dear, oh dear,” said Lucy. “And I was so pleased at finding you again. And I thought you’d let me stay. And I thought you’d come roaring in and frighten all the enemies away – like last time. And now everything is going to be horrid.”

“It is hard for you, little one,” said Aslan. “But things never happen the same way twice. It has been hard for us all in Narnia before now.”

Lucy buried her head in his mane to hide from his face. But there must have been magic in his mane. She could feel lion-strength going into her.

Quite suddenly she sat up.

“I’m sorry, Aslan,” she said. “I’m ready now.”

“Now you are a lioness,” said Aslan.

That was when I remembered your beautiful parents who came to comfort us on Day One. I could feel the cool wash cloth your mother placed on my head, remembered her holding me for so long on the couch. I could see the pained expression and love on your dad’s face. Here was the couple that I had sat longing to adopt me 25 years before, comforting and holding us the way I would imagine loving parents would do.

As I relived their visit, I saw that as much as I had longed for it, their love didn’t come close to the comfort I’ve been receiving from the Lord. I saw that the love I longed for in your dad’s eyes was really there all along, sitting near me in that church, in that superimposed picture of Jesus.

I’ve always believed He would never leave us or forsake us, but for the past few weeks I have known it. I think that’s because so many people have been praying for me that my eyes have been opened to His presence. He has always been there, but I now feel Him beside me in this valley. He has been comforting me from inside and giving a great sense of peace – even though I’m still crying every day. I feel like I have been just sitting tight between Aslan’s paws, and can imagine that the great lion cries with me. I think I am just supposed to hide my head in his mane and cry a while longer, but I know it will be a long, long while before I am a lioness.

Love, Mardy

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1 Response to "Never Alone"

Your words give us all courage. May you be comforted sweetly day by day.

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