Although “miracles make me lazy,” I am still deeply appreciative of them when they occur. Although these things that happen to me are not huge, and are entirely “dismissable” (if you are someone who needs absolutes/proof, I cannot give it), the timing is always unmistakable, often humorous and always loving and encouraging.
There is MORE. There is MORE!
I was experiencing a low point in early April and I went for a walk (in the chill and lightly falling snow, no less – on April 7! In “mild” Virginia!). As I walked I was crying – and trying not to – and having a pretty intense, not altogether humble conversation with God because this amputation of my heart – of all our hearts – is permanent and painful and some days, in spite of my progress, the despair is louder than the Hope.
This day, I asked God and Mark for a gift, something different. Not a coin: I need more today. I also remembered that a friend from my Facebook grief group had shared with me something she learned from her son, Jeremiah, who died just after Mark: that our loved ones in heaven cannot see the way God does (they are not omnipotent) but they can see “around the corner.” So I also reminded Mark that he knew I was going to make this request.
Within moments I looked to the right and saw this license plate – and the sticker to the left of the plate is from where he took Taekwondo as an 8 year old, and the one to the right is from his first elementary school (neither sticker would be unusual in my neighborhood, but still). The license plate says BL33V3. B-Leeve. Believe. And then I walked around the corner (literally, hanging a right at the next intersection) and found a penny.
I swear he cracks himself up some times.
And here is another photo, from yet one more time (several months ago) when I was wrestling with doubt and hope, trying desperately to understand (not quite ready to “just accept”) the mystery of heaven. I had wrestled as I walked, taking a different path than usual, one that led to a baseball field (Mark played baseball when he was younger); and within moments of speaking to God of my struggle, I stumbled across this word on the ground – part of a flyer for ordering baseball pictures.
Probably one of the hardest things for me, in all of my life, has been believing in the unchanging goodness and presence of God. After Mark died, and weeks and months of grief had passed, I finally, finally realized where my only hope lay: with the One I was so mad at. I loosened my furious, desperate grip on God’s throat long enough to let in a tiny bit of trust: that I wasn’t invisible, that my pain was known, that God did love me, loved Mark, wept with us AND was actively working to provide comfort, even to 3 introverted turtles. I asked, “God, just give me eyes to see HOW you are comforting me!” This little “mustard seed” + a lot of reading + a lot of prayer + wonderful, caring friends/family/church + a lot of tears + daily writing and working through SO MUCH = a slow, gradual, life-changing change in perception.
I receive His love more deeply now, in all the forms in which it comes: the little miracles; the love of my tribe, my people in the various communities I treasure (family, church, neighbors, my sorority sisters, my friends from high school, gym buddies…there are many pockets of people I truly enjoy and love); the gift of beauty and peace in His creation, and in the faces of each person (especially little, pure people). Although I have my days, I am more alive now than ever before.
There was a moment recently, when one of the kids at preschool was pooping – we have an open door policy! – and I was standing in the hallway outside the bathroom, sort of using my peripheral vision to track her progress. She is 3, after all, but I also try to respect her space and that of the others. At one point I turned to answer one of her many questions, and as I did, I looked her fully in the face…at her earnest expression, her shiny, slightly damp and rosy cheeks as she smiled in the midst of focusing on This Very Important Task…and I was struck by how beautiful she is. And as I smiled at her, she laughed.
Via Facebook, a few months ago, I discovered some Christian bloggers who are also grieving parents, and I eagerly began to read their posts. I wanted to find hope and joy there, and they do point me back to God, to promises of eternity; AND, I find some of their posts to be sadder, less encouraging, less hopeful, and, at times, absolutely joy-stealing. They insist on very tight rules for grief lest we “anger God” or stray into darkness; they actively deny the existence of signs and miracles, and discourage the search for them, in spite of the fact that Jesus was a walking miracle who constantly defied the natural order in order to heal, to love, to prove He was God. One particular blogger was not without compassion, because some of the comments under her posts are from moms (like me) who protest this narrow view; the blogger’s reply is gentle, “I’m sorry, but I think the Truth is the Truth.” Her other readers are less tolerant. I am paraphrasing here, but essentially there are other grieving moms saying things like, “Well, MY son is too busy worshiping Jesus to send me signs. Those poor people, thinking their child is sending feathers and coins. How deluded. Well: bless their hearts.”
Why do we need to do this?
I believe. I believe that our God is more loving, more compassionate, more willing to bend toward us as we grieve, in order to soothe our fractured, aching hearts, than any of us can fathom. He alone knows the perfect way, the best salve for our unique wounds; and, when we finally begin or learn or remember to trust Him to do what He promises, to bandage our broken hearts, we should leave the door wide open, setting no limits on the “how” of His limitless, boundless power and love. He knew I needed all of this – all of it – and that it would help me accept the truth of Him, of Love, of Heaven, of what I now know to be True. And I am endlessly grateful.