Sunday, June 17, 2012

Facing the Challenges

"Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Matthew 11:28-30  (KJV)

I have learned throughout life that if there is a dark, looming challenge in my path....
creating an it just best for me to go ahead and face it head on.
The longer I put it off, the bigger it seems to grow, and the more anxiety-ridden I become.
From experience, I've learned that it is best to go ahead and make that confrontation.
Face that giant.
Deal with it.
Conquer it.
Then move forward.

Going to church may not sound like an intimidating thing to do.
Driving the distance to get there may seem a very easy and simple task.
Pulling in to the parking lot....where we've parked so many times....may seem a ridiculous thing to get worked up about.
Getting out of the car, walking up the sidewalk, reaching the steps, putting one foot in front of the other, and actually walking through the front door....probably would not....could defined as a challenge for the average person.

Thinking about these things has held me terrified....for weeks.
Just the thought of them made me feel ill....and anxious....and filled with dread.

By God's grace, I was able to overcome the fear of my own reaction and attend church....
in another building....removed from where Mom worshiped God with us.
I am so glad I did.
Being in the atmosphere, feeling the love of God, having my soul nurtured and nourished, 
was a wonderful blessing.

But, to walk in to.....the chapel...that precious haven....that endeared spot....that we shared with her....without her this time....seemed way too much.
It has loomed over me like a dark, foreboding, intimidating cloud...since the day she died.

That chapel has brought comfort to many times.
I still remember our first time going there....all of us....heavy-laden, burdened, battered, spiritually bruised.
We found a safe place inside its walls.
A place of love....and appreciation....and acceptance.
She felt that.
She loved being there.
She wanted to go as often as she could.
Some Sundays it was beyond difficult for her, but each time she pressed to go, 
she was never disappointed.
She was always happy there.

I kept putting off....going.
The fear of the emotional meltdown that I knew would ensue...
overwhelmed and terrified the point....of avoiding it altogether.

The challenge seemed insurmountable...unattainable.

But, then I remembered the promise in His Word.
The statement Paul made.
The verse I have adopted so many times when faced with something I knew I could never do...
on my own.

"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." 

All things.
Didn't that include and encompass this?
Even this?

I found the grace, the courage, from someplace deep, and I said I would try to go.
We went.
The whole way there, I thought of her.
How usually she was sitting there in the car with us.
Talking, laughing, sometimes singing....with us.
Enjoying our time together.

We drew near....and the chapel....that sacred spot that has become so dear to our hearts....
came into view.
My pulse quickened.
I knew it was coming....the dreaded meltdown.

Sure enough, it started, as we parked the car, without pulling close to the sidewalk....for her.
Usually, Zach's little friend would come out and take her walker out of the trunk and help her inside....
while we parked the car.

Not so this time.

We parked, and we took those steps....up the familiar sidewalk.
I paused as I neared the open door.
I knew the reality....of her absence....would overwhelm a few seconds.

I felt weak, almost sick, as I mustered the walk through.
Then I spotted her.
My dear, faithful, precious friend.
With open arms.
Crying right along with me.
She knows how hard this is.
Come to find out, they had been praying for me all day.
Anticipating the pain...of this moment.
She has been down this road.
She knows.

I looked at our pew....the one we always sat on....with Mom.
It was empty...void....vacant.
A stark, overwhelmingly sad statement....that she is no longer here.
Soon, my precious sister and her family arrived.
I was SO thankful they were there.
They found comfort...just knowing she used to go there to church.
The thing that brought them such comfort, was shooting darts of pain...into my heart.

I looked over at Zachary during service, and tears were falling from his eyes.

"What's wrong, Zach?"
I reached across...the empty spot between us...where she used to faithfully sit.

I pulled him close...across the divide.

"I miss Nana", he whispered.

"I know, Zach, I know.  I do, too."

We got through it...all of us.....together.

We worshiped God.
He is worthy....of all of our praise.
No matter how much we hurt.
Regardless of what we are going through.
In spite of the pain.

He is God.
He deserves all we have.

We sang the song, "Come Unto Me".

Such a sweet invitation.
To lay our burdens down.

We all gathered around the altar....and we poured out our hearts to Him....who gave the invitation, 
"Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest..."

I was prayed for.
I felt the love....the compassion....the burden that is being carried for me....during this dark time.
I felt real.
I felt Mom....her presence....cheering me on....telling me to keep praying.
To keep encouraged.
To stay in the faith.
Just like she told me the night we were waiting on the ambulance.

She would be happy I went the place she loved to go.

I'm glad I went.

Another looming challenge successfully faced.

All glory be to God, through Christ, another "first" is now behind us.

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