I am so tired of being sad. This is not me. I just want one day where I can drop this longing and sadness off somewhere and forget about it, but sadness is my shadow- it follows me everywhere. I have a hard time looking forward to things. All I see in my future is dread- anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays- all words that were once cheerful words now make me clam up, make me recoil. And my innocence, my naivety all are gone. When bad things happen to other people, I am calloused to them. How can those things break my heart like they used to when my heart is already shattered? There are no pieces left to break.
Six months ago I was a mother. There are moments in my day or week that I try to reason with myself... "Alison, you lived 28 years of your life without Quinn. You have known living without her longer than you have known what is like to live with her. YOU CAN DO THIS." I honestly give inner pep-talks quite often. But then I remember. I remember how it felt to smell her, to hold her warm sweet body against my chest, how it felt to hear her breath, and coo, I remember the feeling my heart had when I saw her smile, when I made eye contact with her and she smiled in recognition of who I was and then I think... "How could I ever go back?" I can never forget how she made my cup runneth over and I am now so painfully aware of this empty cup. I know I am still a mother in some sense of the word... the mother who needs to go to the cemetery every day to make sure everything is ok, the mother who wakes up in the middle of the night when it sleets outside barely able to hold myself together knowing her baby is "out" in this, but being a mother is a verb to me. It is the day in and day out things you do for your child and that...that is gone.
But the identity I mourn the most is losing the identity I had of Christ and who I thought he was. C.S. Lewis echos my thoughts in A Grief Observed:
"The conclusion I dread is not 'So there's no God after all,' but 'So this is what God's really like."
Why have I always secretly thought of God as my Holy Vending Machine? The God who, if I do good, will toll out blessings? And my trust in Him is so thin. When any opportunity for a bad circumstance arises, I have a hard time believing that the best is going to happen- at least what I think is best. Being in this position leaves little room for hope.
As I am beginning this new year the same few words keep coming to my mind and heart- restore and renew. I want to be renewed, I yearn for restoration.
Jeremiah pleads for it in Lamentations 5:15 & 20:
"Joy is gone from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning (15)... Restore us to yourself,
O Lord, that we may return; renew our days of old. (20)."
"And the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little
while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast." -1 Peter 5:10
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being
renewed day by day." -2 Corinthians 4:16
My prayer is similar to David's in Psalm 51:10-12
"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from
your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant
me a willing spirit to sustain me."
But I am so worn that it is hard to know where to start with the restoration. I was in the car this morning and the throwback song of I Want to Fall in Love with You by Jars of Clay came on and it hit me like a ton of bricks- I want, no, I need to fall in love with the Lord all over again. If I have discovered that I didn't really know who the Lord was... It's time to get to know Him all over again. My New Year's Resolution? To fall deeper in love with God. In order for God to "renew a steadfast spirit within me" and "restore the joy of my salvation" I need to return to my first love- Him. God has written me 66 love letters... the Bible. Like a woman waiting to hang on every word in writing from her lover afar, I should be hanging on every word of his love letters to me. I have made a resolution to start with Genesis and read 2-4 chapters a day and read the book 66 Love Letters by Larry Crabb along with the Bible when I start and finish a new book/love letter. In the beginning of a marriage- love is sweet, easy, and natural, but as the years go by it takes more work to keep the spark in the marriage. It is time for me to get to work to get the spark back. And I hear God saying to me,
"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. I will build
you up again and you will be rebuilt, Oh Alison. Again you will take up your tambourines and
go out to dance with the joyful." -Jeremiah 31:3-4
And here begins the restoration of my Identity. Not of who I once was, but who I am in Christ.