Through the Darkness

Two years ago I️ woke up to what would intensify an incredibly hard season. Trying to formulate the words of see you later to my dad was difficult. Seeing the pain from my brother was heartbreaking. The anxiety and grief was becoming a beast I️ couldn’t face alone.

I️ remember hoping that I’d never lose a close family member or friend until I was married, so that I️ could be comforted by my spouse. Yet 2 years ago I️ was single and faced 2 great deaths. This is something I’m thankful for. The road I️ was on seemed to head to more sadness, but the hand that held mine was sure.

It may sound crazy but there are days I️ miss that season. When you trust God and can’t find even a hint of satisfaction on anything else but Him His presence and faithfulness are so evident.

People often say I’m strong yet I️ feel so weak. The strength they see is something that is beyond me. When I️ chose to forgive my dad I️ had to rely on God. When I️ hasn’t seen my dad in 9 years and I️ chose to go see him because he was dying, I️ had to rely on God. When I️ had to see not only him but my grandpa die in the same week, I️ had to rely on God.

Even in the darkest seasons. The ones where anxiety seems to rule and depression greets you in the morning. In seasons where bitterness encases your heart. When it’s hard to forgive. The secret is found in going through those valid feelings with God. The natural thing we do is try to fix it ourselves. Yet God wants us to go with and through.

I️ know I️ wouldn’t have made it through all of the without Him. Every prayer from every person doesn’t go unnoticed. Even today I’m thankful for each prayer for my family during that season. I️ know there are more times than I️ can count that they carried me through.

Dear Sojourners,

Forgiveness is possible. Redemption is real. Guidance from Our Daddy is necessary.

Dad I️ know you’re enjoying heaven. I️ miss you but thankfully one day, we will be united again.

Emmanuel 

First featured on ourwordscollaborativ.com day 19 💛

Christmas movies are my favorite. I love to sit down and put on a movie full or festive times, snowy days, and holiday cheer. 

As I’m writing this I am watching the movie the Nativity. There’s this part in the movie when a woman that Mary was working for had several children around and she is talking about the time when Elijah was hiding in the cave in 1 Kings 19. Though Elijah had just faced a great victory; lies and threats reached his ears that made him feel alone. Threatened. Scared. So what did he do? The same thing most of us do when we feel like the world, even God, is against us. He hid. He went in a cave and hid. God tried to get Elijah to stop hiding and remember that He was on his side and what He’s done for Elijah. He called Elijah out of the cave. While Elijah was on the mountain side huge winds began to whip around him. If I was Elijah I would have thought that maybe the winds were God. Maybe He was trying to physically pick me up and put me back where He wanted. Forcing me to face my fears. But the Lord was not in the wind. A fire began to fall around Elijah. If I was him I would have thought God was trying to scare me away from where I was hiding. Maybe I would choose to move back to where God wanted me, out of fear. But the Lord was not in the fire. Lastly, the earth began to shake. The ground opened up and rocks cracked all around Elijah. If I was Elijah I would have thought that God was done. That He was just going to allow the Earth to swallow me up and move onto the next person that would obey Him. But the Lord was not in the earthquake. So where was He? He said He was going to come. 
I can picture Elijah being weary. Tired. Emotionally drained. The dust around him settles. Things come to a calm. Just then a small, gentle voice speaks. It was Him. 
Isn’t that beautiful. The stillness. The small. God loves to be unconventional. 
This past November we as a family made it through the first anniversary without my dad and grandpa. They both were taken from us by cancer within days of each other the year before. It was hard. People often ask how I got through it. Truth is the threats and lies are all too familiar for me. The winds have whipped, the fire has scorched, and the earth has shaken. The answer is found in a simple identity. 
Emmanuel 
Jesus has many names to describe all that He is. Emmanuel means God with us. When Jesus came down He was with us. He walked with us, yes but He went through life as a human. Meaning He knows what we are facing and He knows how to get through it; successfully! This is huge when we are facing the grief and corruption that life brings. When our close people die; He is with us. When our families are being torn apart; He’s with us. When life hands you lies, threats, and accusations; He knows what is feels like and He knows how to get out of it. Even when the anxieties and depression hits; He hasn’t left. He’s right there with you, guiding you. 
Too often we choose to look to God like the people in the Old Testament. Questioning if it’s God that is in the winds that whip around us. Questioning if He is in the fire that burns all around. Wondering if He’s shaking the earth to get your attention. But forgetting He’s in that still small voice in you. Forgetting He’s in the gift of the Word He gave us. 
Through all of the hustle and bustle take a moment and sit. I don’t know what memories you have of Christmas time or what this past year alone has brought you, but you have made it. A friend of mine recently sent me a picture that said, “You have survived 100% of your worse days.” How true is that? You are here, right now reading this blog. You are breathing. That means you are meant for something grand. I know the feeling of not knowing how or if I would make it through the end of the day. I know the feeling of anxiety and depression holding me down, creating a whirlwind around me. But I made it. Not through the worlds remedies, but through my God. He led me through. Dear friend, God is with you. I don’t know why life has handed you the things it has or hasn’t handed you what you want but I know that He is with you. He has you. And you’re not going to just get through these times but you’ll get through them victoriously because He is with you. 

Graced Grief 

It’s been two months. Two months of chaotic thinking, anxiety, grief, darkness. Two months since I said goodbye. Two months since grief has been an everyday process. Two months of learning how to live without a father and grandfather. Two months of battles. Two months of hugs. Two months of waking up randomly and crying. Two months of talking and trusting and relying. Two long months. 

2015 was the hardest year of my life. The last 2 months wrapped it up in one giant word. GRIEF. there was so much grieving in the last year. And to be completely honest it is continuing. Losing two people has been enough but even before all of this there was grieving that I didn’t know what to do with from my own lack of trust in God and seeing others close to me go through hard times. The death of my dad and grandpa were just the cherry on top. 

This last week God has challenged me to start looking at grief through His eyes. In this season I am learning how to not see God as a being who has a stiff arm and soured look on His face when I come into His presence. He’s taught me that He is embracing me in this season. In the grief of realizing the unbelief I’ve cuddled up next to through out my life. In the grief of losing relationships, saying goodbye to passions and communities, and holding my grandpas hand as he took his last breath. He is embracing me. 

One of my favorite stories in scripture is found in Matthew chapter 14. 

“Herod had arrested John, put him in chains, and sent him to prison to placate Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. John had provoked Herod by naming his relationship with Herodias “adultery.” Herod wanted to kill him, but he was afraid because so many people revered John as a prophet of God. But at his birthday celebration, he got his chance. Herodias’s daughter provided the entertainment, dancing for the guests. She swept Herod away. In his drunken enthusiasm, he promised her on oath anything she wanted. Already coached by her mother, she was ready: “Give me, served up on a platter, the head of John the Baptizer.” That sobered the king up fast. Unwilling to lose face with his guests, he did it—ordered John’s head cut off and presented to the girl on a platter. She in turn gave it to her mother. Later, John’s disciples got the body, gave it a reverent burial, and reported to Jesus. When Jesus got the news, he slipped away by boat to an out-of-the-way place by himself. But unsuccessfully—someone saw him and the word got around. Soon a lot of people from the nearby villages walked around the lake to where he was. When he saw them coming, he was overcome with pity and healed their sick.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭14:3-14‬ ‭MSG‬‬

When people say that God knows how we feel they truly mean it. Jesus walked this earth and had a real life human experience. He experienced loss and pain. He experienced grief. But this part of His life shows me more than just His grief but it also reminds me of God’s Grace. 



“When Jesus got the news, he slipped away by boat to an out-of-the-way place by himself. But unsuccessfully—someone saw him and the word got around. Soon a lot of people from the nearby villages walked around the lake to where he was. When he saw them coming, he was overcome with pity and healed their sick. Toward evening the disciples approached him. “We’re out in the country and it’s getting late. Dismiss the people so they can go to the villages and get some supper.” But Jesus said, “There is no need to dismiss them. You give them supper.” “All we have are five loaves of bread and two fish,” they said. Jesus said, “Bring them here.” Then he had the people sit on the grass. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples. The disciples then gave the food to the congregation. They all ate their fill. They gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. About five thousand were fed.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭14:13-21‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Jesus just found out that His cousin died. Not only was this a part of His earthly family but John was the one that prepared the way for Jesus. Out of everyone Jesus was around John the baptize understood what Jesus was going through to some degree. He too had been looked down upon and was responsible with a very high calling. I’m sure when Jesus heard that John had died, it hit him in the core of his body. Though the Bible doesn’t give us details of Jesus’ pain it does say that He tried to get by Himself but was met by a crowd of needy people. Many times in life I’ve tried to deal with a sudden set of emotions while dealing with others.

 This summer I said goodbye to a part of my life that I loved. Within hours of saying goodbye to an amazing set of people I was woken up with news that my grandpa had fallen. With a head full of questions I had to push through the crowd of circumstances that now encompassed me. Chaos. I’m sure Jesus felt chaotic. there were so many things out of control yet He was able to address the needs of the crowds around Him. How? Grace. Jesus stayed focused on the Father and He knew that if the Father was calling Him to heal the crowds that His Father would provide rest. 

Though this last year was full of grief I have to say it was fuller of God’s grace. I don’t deserve to have a faithful God. A God who believes in me when I don’t believe Him. A God that’s so gentle and patient when I want to hold on to old ways of thinking. I don’t deserve His peace of mind or strength but that’s the grace of God. I don’t deserve it and can’t arrive so that I do.  He freely gives His grace to those who love Him and for that I am forever grateful. 

Dear Soujourners,

I don’t know where you are in your journey as you read this but I pray that if you need to experience God’s grace that your eyes would be open to it. And if things are brighter for you today I pray that you would rely on God to help you extend grace to those around you. I pray that no matter what 2016 holds we would reach the end and see God’s graceful hand guiding us along the way and our steps becoming more secure on His path because His grace has found us just as we are. 

Until next time,

Monique❤️