You don’t recognize the toll grief takes on your mentally, physically and spiritually oftentimes until in hindsight. I didn’t know in 2013 when my husband died that I would fall into depression once the shock wore off a year or two later. No one told me I would put on weight because of it. So not only are you burdened by the emotional weight of grief, loss and despair, but slowly you become burdened by the physical changes of putting on weight and then realizing you literally no longer look like yourself.
Also, no one tells you about grieving the loss of your dreams and plans and dealing with what you do now. Before my husband died I thought my life was heading in a certain direction. He felt called to pastor. He had a pastor’s heart, and I wanted to be right there with him to serve in the church he would found. He was the one with the compassionate heart. Not me. Life and its disappointments hardened mine. I was always suspicious, anxious and untrusting. He led with love. He never met a stranger. He was everyone’s pastor and friend. So it only made sense that he would be the pastor in our little team.
However, after he died, so did my dreams of any real ministry. I was too busy trying to keep afloat with the grief and kids. I always wondered how God could take the one designed for pastoring and serving. It was easy for him. All Gabe wanted to do was serve God and God’s people, but me. I’m the difficult one. Everything is complicated with me. I wanted to serve, but serve like Gabe? I never thought I was capable of that kind of strength, trust, openness, love and compassion.
“Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank” Numbers 20:11 (NIV).
“Son of man, with one blow I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes. Yet do not lament or weep or shed any tears” Ezekiel 24:16 (NIV).
Ironically, Gabe’s death has been the strike I needed to open my heart. Now, I see the sufferings of others. I’m in tune with people’s pain. As a result, I’m able to show compassion. Losing someone I loved hurt me so much I now know there are others hurting just as bad if not worse than me. As I reflect, I know God used his death to further transform me. I know I wouldn’t minister the way I do now if I hadn’t suffered. However, I’m wondering what is my ministry going to be. My ministry was so tied to Gabe that I don’t know what I want to do or what serving looks like for me moving forward. It’s a little frustrating because it feels like I’ve wasted the last six years of my life. However, I know the bulk of the time has been spent keeping my head above turbulent spiritual and emotional waters and raising two babies.
I feel behind when it comes to ministry, but I know God has a plan. Sometimes I just wish I had a little more insight into what it is. I trust Him. It just isn’t easy. My hope is that when it’s all over, this crazy path will make sense, and I will have completed the work God called me to do – whatever that is. At the end of the day I just want to hear “Well done.”