A Fractured Hallelujah

It was August 18th around 10:30 am. I was standing in the kitchen, hiding in the corner crying, so my 5 year old wouldn’t see or hear me. Which did not work; my ugly cry isn’t very silent. She came over with my husband & asked what was the matter with me? I told her the 1st thing that came to mind, “I am happy sad.” “Oh, like when brother graduated high school?” “Yes, like that.” She went back to play, I heard my son finishing up his shower upstairs, I pulled my husband aside & said through sobs, “I just cannot do this. I am not ready. I just want to go back & adjust some things & buy myself another week. I wish you were coming with me.” 15 minutes later, my son came downstairs, hugged my husband & his little sister their goodbyes & in the car we headed several hundred miles north to drop him on the foundation of the new life God is building for him.

This day is one that many parents gnash the teeth & grieve over. The very thought makes their heart drop & they get physically ill. Many other parents look at this day mentally & rejoice to sail the kids away & restore their time to themselves. Whatever your way of handling this departure is definitely your way, you’re right for feeling the way you do, so am I. For me, it has been the most bittersweet series of preparation & endurance in my life. The letting go of my son, also hinged on the letting go of my daughter, within the same week. Talk about a double edge sword. It has been one very slow to remove.

I decided at the beginning of summer to step aside from everything that would take time away from my family. My husband is a teacher, so aside from my son’s job, we’d all be home together. It was early June, we would be a house divided in 2 months. I needed to plan to position my heart & my time in the place they needed to be sitting for the events that would cause our family to never be the same again. As I placed everything into motion on the calendar, the dates were set for the important stuff, the fun stuff & a bit of breathing room for the spontaneous stuff. Then I started my internal calendar or I guess you’d call it my internal hourglass. Every day for 2 months was another day we were losing sand.

I won’t forget the moment I wrote down, college drop off appointment between 2-4 pm. How I sank when I noticed his 1st day of college classes, her 1st day of Kindergarten AND his 18th birthday all fell on the same day. What was I going to do? We’re huge birthday people. How will he survive the day without our celebrating him? Then I shifted back to how will she handle school. Her sensory, her being at home with me all these years. How will this feel knowing that my house is going to be silent all day? After my son was only away for 6 days, he dropped the bomb he wouldn’t be home until Thanksgiving. WHAT? It’s August. I’m just getting used to the sore spot where the band aid was ripped off. This & many other scenarios have set the stage of the hallelujah that’s been walking with quite the limp.

I told a friend the other day that I feel like I am having post partum feelings, except my kids are 18 & 5. To save time & rehashing, I won’t begin in this post to give you the details of the moment I left him at school. That would take awhile. With a face buried in his chest weeping, I could only say, “Please be careful, I am so proud of you & go do all the things I never did.” Fortunately, I had slipped a 9 page letter on his crisp new bedding that worded what I couldn’t in those last minutes of letting go. And that’s exactly what it was- the moment that you FULLY let go & let God. I hadn’t felt that vulernable & disconnected since I had left my daughter in the NICU 5 years earlier. Both times were coming home without my baby & grabbing into a faith so deep & trusting, that there is merely no word for it. It is soul exposed, in the rawest form.

It’s really easy to trust God or at least tell Him you do, when your kids are all in the same house with you, under “your wings”. When life is busy, but polished. We can so easily say, “Lord I trust your plans over their lives. I trust your call. I surrender them back to you, as they aren’t mine anyway.” We can truly think/feel that we mean that- until that very thing is tested. Then we finally see what our heart condition really has become. To be honest, I haven’t liked mine very much the past few months. My hallelujah had gone from bruised to needing a spiritual surgeon with a divine defibrillator.

It’s embarassing to admit. It sets in place a vulernable & exposed side that I really hate to share. How can a Bible Leader, a speaker to women, someone who’s used to encouraging others, have herself in a place of remorse, instead of leaps of rejoicing? How can the waves come in this hard & I settle for letting them overtake me? Knowing our family’s unreal testimony these past few years, living with a daughter who’s been a medical miracle so many times over that we cannot count, having a son who’s overcome obstacles at the hands of other people & worked so hard to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships- starting college as a late sophomore, & being 1st generation to ever do any of this; seeing what God has done every day in & through the 4 of us, HOW can I be so selfish to sit here & grieve this out? To not trust fully because of crippling fear of the unknown. The news stories became more realistic & home based. The world looked a bit differently when my son obtained a different address than mine. With a million thoughts I took my eyes off Jesus & I sank. My strength equalled a blob of jello.

Praying was hard. Being motivated to be in the word was hard. Going to church was hard. Being around others was hard. I’ve mentioned my brain imbalance before; it’s chemical. It’s annoying. I have been blessed to overcome that part of me unmedicated for 14 years now, but serious life events do take their toll on me. The way I process & rebound from those things take a bit of time & tenderness.

This month was a month of last dinners, last family outings, packing, shopping, lab work, meetings, making sure t’s were crossed, i’s dotted, insomnia, and a list of other things you wouldn’t imagine. Days are blurry in survival mode. The ache of this season has been one I will never forget in all of my life. Not just because of the pain & the struggle, but the beauty of God in the rebuild. Watching Him lay another row of bricks in the wall of my life testimony. To see every step or some days, every crawl of the way, precisely for what He is preparing me & them for, now & down the road.

For every day my prayers before Him were just tears from a face planted in her bedroom floor carpet, He came. He would show up in a random scripture email. He would show up in a praise song. He would show up in a text message from someone unexpectedly. No matter what I did in pain & rebellion, thought or action, He never moved. He stood still & fought for me when I could barely get out of the bed because sadness/dread/depression had come to swallow me. He made the choice to seek Him my own, but He never faded into the distance out of my sight. Even making Himself visible grocery shopping with an out of the blue God bless you from a stranger or the instrumental music of a praise song blaring through the ceiling at a very secular store. See, when your soul is tethered to the Holy Spirit, even though your emotions are rapid, you have an awareness that you are in the shadow of His wings. He is the refuge. Every scripture you’ve taught to others, studied & repeated, comes to life IN YOU. They make much more sense not just when you feel the medicinal purposes in the verses, but you start to believe the promises that always follow the struggle.

As I’ve stood on the horizon of launching a new Bible study in a few weeks, developing notes to teach women at a leadership training & a women’s conference, I thought there would be no way. What hypocrite can tell women the message I’ve felt led to teach, while passing through these levels of feelings?  Even 3 weeks ago I contemplated backing out. But, God kept poking. All of a sudden, the quiet house I feared being in for 7 hours a day, has been a place of depth with God that I haven’t been given the gift of before now. Time to praise & pray & write & lay trust at His feet over & over & over again every day. My grief & my heartache has yet again become my renewed strength. Day by day I feel a new me taking position. I had to let the pieces of the old me, I’d dragged into my new life in Christ 6 years ago, actually be buried this time. I realized I hadn’t nailed the coffin shut on many skeletons & in other areas I was in complete disobedience to doing what God said to do a long time ago. You see, we’re our most miserable when we aren’t living out our callings. The thing we were created for, the purpose. When it’s out of line, so are we. Frankly, I am tired of weeping & it’s time to dance again.

A few days after my son was in college I started a new study on Nehemiah. It’s a book that I actually got to lead & study over 3 years ago. But it’s amazing in this season of life, how it screamed at my soul & heart so much differently. You can find that study & many other free archived studies at http://www.ifequip.com They are a wonderful supplement to the other Bible studies that I engage in throughout the year. I hope you will find something there for you. It’s been amazing for me to walk alongside Nehemiah & Ezra & the community of God, as they repaired the city wall & their oath to Him. It’s been nice to repair mine also.

Throughout the past 6 years whenever I had something of turmoil brewing against God’s spirit, I always find in many of those moments a rainbow. To you it symbolizes whatever you want. To me it’s always been a symbol of God’s promise of a new day & an oath from Him that no matter how high the waters form & how they long they stay, they WILL recede & He will not allow me to drown in them. There will always be dry & Holy land ahead.

As I watched my 18 years walk into his dorm building, I just stood behind my car in disbelief. Everything that used to be our future, was now the present. Every prayer over his life was actively in motion. As I took the long walk to my car on the 1st day of Kindergarten & watch her walk into school every day, part of myself goes too. I imagine a legion of angels on all 4 corners & I know that before I blink she’ll have my son’s current reality & he will be 31 years old. Seems surreal. But, so did this season when I lived back there…. in the past.

Leaving college alone that day, I had about 20 minutes from the university to the interstate. Lots of bending God’s ear & lamenting were occurring. Just like He does, He reminded me of things He had done for me & mainly for them, over these years. He quieted my tears, calmed my heart & as I merged onto the interstate, He prompted me to go a few miles & hit the rest area. To regroup & prepare myself for the hours of miles to get back home. And to ready myself for my son’s empty bedroom & bathroom. As I topped the hill of the rest area I lost my breath. I absolutely could not believe what I was seeing. One of the strongest, visible rainbows I have seen. Especially for there to have been no rain in all of the hours I had been in town that day.

I wept with a childlike gratitude & was very humbled to know He was saying to me again, “I promise you a new day; I promise them a new day. Even when it’s hard, come to me. When you don’t feel like reading my word, read it anyway. Cry when you must, but trust me to shod your feet for dancing again & walking forth with the Good News.” If I glorify Him in ALL things, I know that my kids will be used for glorious purposes because the seed has already been planted in them. The harvest won’t come through me, it’ll come through them. Until that happens, no matter what it takes, no matter how difficult the days of farming weeds & dust, the future generation is worth far more for the kingdom, than for me to give up. 1 day, 1 prayer, 1 choice, could be the very 1 that changes everything. And I don’t want to miss the mark because I chose the weakness of emotion over the power in the promise.

Wherever your hallelujah is at the moment, I pray it’s in a position to either be repaired or continued to be strengthened. Nobody has their A game on 24-7 & in the moments that you feel you’ve reached the depth of the valley, He is there with you. Reach up. Know you’re not ever alone & you always have a sister in Christ who gets it. Whether in sympathy or empathy I am there!

After the pictures below, that I wanted to share with you, I have a post about a CD that has carried me completely through this healing season & the link to one of my favorite songs. I hope you find some solace there as well! God bless you all…..

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Hillsong United from the Empires CD: https://youtu.be/CYQo7pX2xRA {Even When It Hurts (Praise Song)

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