Today, please join us in welcoming our guest writer, Marilyn Nutter.
While visiting family out west for the Christmas holidays, Marilyn found retirement dreams with her husband interrupted when he suffered a fatal heart attack on December 23, 2011. In her new journey, she has found God’s mercies and faithfulness real each day (Lamentations 3: 22-23). She is the mother of three adult daughters, grandmother to eight and lives in Greer, SC. The author of three devotional books and a contributor to compilations and on line sites, Marilyn also serves in women’s ministry in her church, facilitates a Grief Support group and posts encouragement on her personal blog.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV
Whenever it rained, my neighbors experienced run off in their yard. A retaining wall wasn’t needed, but a landscaper suggested piling rocks in the area to keep excess water from flowing into their yard and soaking the grass. So after our usual morning walk, Lanette and I drove around our neighborhood to look for rocks.
We scouted a couple of vacant lots in our new housing development and found rocks in different sizes, shapes and colors. We had enough to fill the trunk of her car. They looked like just a pile, but once her husband placed them in the backyard, they became an attractive and functional arrangement.
My grief and loss journey has been, and I am sure will continue to feel, like “rocks” at times. There are the hard moments, moments where waves of sadness come-when my husband’s absence is profound, such as at the births of two grandsons. Sometimes there are short, “smaller” moments, triggered by an aroma or even passing a product on a supermarket shelf, that bring memories. My eyes fill with tears, I have a lump in my throat, or a momentary knot in my stomach. There’s awareness of loss when I tackle a project that is out of my skill set or I see couples holding hands. Other waves may be longer—a cloud I can’t shake on a lonely weekend. There are big moments—holidays and special occasions, where loss is so large that everything else is obscured.
But…there are days when I go to lunch with a friend, spend time with my prayer group, go to the beach for a girlfriends’ getaway, am inspired to write, redecorate a room, play with my grandchildren and yes, laugh.
Like those rocks in my neighbor’s yard, some moments are large, sharp with jagged edges that hurt. Others are smoother and colorful. I have joy and sense healing. The different moments are all necessary and “functional” to move forward in the winding labyrinth of grief and mourning.
Grief experts remind us not to be stuck in our grief, that grief is a journey, not a destination. I guess being stuck is much like leaving my grief “rocks” in the vacant lot or in the trunk of a car. Instead, the beautiful arrangement in the right place made a difference and created a picture for me. When I realized the rocks had functional and aesthetic value, I reminded myself that God has purpose in my loss and grief path. God is accompanying me on my journey; the large, sharp and hard moments combine with the smaller smooth ones. Splashes of color accentuate the arrangement.
As I progress, the larger rocks become less sharp and less prominent. They move to the background. It is part of the grieving and mourning process. It’s part of developing my story to make something beautiful in my life, especially to see that God is trustworthy. In moving forward and healing, I find grace in each rock and my developing story gives grace to others.
Dear Heavenly Father, sometimes we can only see the jagged “rocks” in our lives, piled up with no purpose. Help us to see all the events, good and bad, happy and sad, as part of our stories in making our lives beautiful for Your glory. Amen
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