The following is a guest post from Rebecca Hurtley, mama to one in her heart and one here on Earth, blogger at The Ivy Nest. Visit her blog and give her a follow <3
As some of you may know, October is such a bittersweet month for us; it’s the month that we said hello and goodbye to our precious daughter Savannah in 2013. There is some sort of unspoken freedom that I usually give myself for this whole month; the freedom to feel however I’m feeling without the guilt that sometimes follows. It’s almost like I am able to justify my feelings more this month than others because it is Savannah’s. However, this year I have been unusually quiet and unable to make sense of my emotions.
This past Sunday we went to church, as we do every other weekend, and yet I had no idea that God had been planning an awakening of my heart. For the last few weeks, we’ve been in a message series called “non-fiction” which is all about how each of us has a story, and that our real story really matters. One of our pastors shared this week about how there is a “purpose for your present”. The whole message was basically explaining how it is much easier to look back at past events and see how they make sense and how God has used them for good, rather than to sit in the present and see how your current struggle could ever be turned around.
He referenced Psalm 77 and I couldn’t help but be brought to tears as he read it aloud. I felt such a strong connection between these words and our grief journey.
“I cry out to God; yes, I shout.
Oh, that God would listen to me!
2 When I was in deep trouble,
I searched for the Lord.
All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven,
but my soul was not comforted.
3 I think of God, and I moan,
overwhelmed with longing for his help.
4 You don’t let me sleep.
I am too distressed even to pray!
5 I think of the good old days,
long since ended,
6 when my nights were filled with joyful songs.
I search my soul and ponder the difference now.
7 Has the Lord rejected me forever?
Will he never again be kind to me?
8 Is his unfailing love gone forever?
Have his promises permanently failed?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he slammed the door on his compassion?
10 And I said, “This is my fate;
the Most High has turned his hand against me.”
– Psalm 77: 1-10
Our society as a whole is awful with being transparent when it comes to hardships and grief, myself included. When someone asks how we’re doing, it’s so much easier to just give them the standard “we’re doing well” or “we’re hanging in there” instead of opening up and sharing the pain of your current state. So often we choose to isolate ourselves and in turn we aren’t using those opportunities to heal or even help someone else by sharing. As a Christian, I know I feel the weight of wanting to continually point things back to God and His faithfulness. As raw and real as Psalm 77: 1-10 was it goes on to say this:
“But then I recall all you have done…”
I love the way our pastor brought this to life “when you focus only on the faithfulness, goodness, glory, and trust you have in God… you minimize the struggle you’re going through.” Meaning if you choose to only share the good times, or only give God glory but you aren’t sharing your pain, you aren’t giving them the whole picture of what God has carried you through. It is when we choose to be vulnerable with others and honest with ourselves that healing really happens.
It is uncomfortable to sit in the midst, to be tossed by the waves of grief, and to allow myself to feel the emotions that come from losing our daughter. It honestly sucks, there truly is no better word. I can say in this moment that we don’t know the ending of our story, there is no happily ever after, and yet in the same breath, I can say that I trust that there will be.
As I sit here writing this post and reflecting back on this month, I am realizing just how much I had pushed down, and not shared. How many times I cried just at the sight of little girls around Savannah’s age, or how many nights as I kissed her little brother and tucked him in, I wished that she was here for me to do the same. How many times as I passed the clothes department the 4T dresses caught my eye, or how often the peach in the sunrise/sunset actually made my arms ache for her sweet little body. I read this quote and it rings so true to how October has been for me.
“When grief is deepest, words are fewest.” -Ann Voskamp
My hope is to change that though. As hard as it is to share, there is such freedom in allowing yourself the ability to feel emotions as they come and to be honest with yourself as you work through them. There is community, encouragement, and hope when we open up to each other; when we come out of hiding and drag out the darkest parts of our stories into the light to be seen. I have known this to be true in my own life and my hope is that by sharing with each of you, you would do the same.
Author: Rebecca Hurtley
Rebecca is a believer, a proud military wife, Mama of two, and the face behind The Ivy Nest. She and her husband have two precious babies, Savannah & Samuel. They welcomed sweet Savannah who is now with Jesus in 2013 (you can read more about her story here) and their rainbow baby Samuel in 2015. Being a Mom is one of the hardest things she’s ever done and yet is also by far her greatest joy!