Tuesday, January 6, 2015

~ "When friends must leave you..."

"He is not here; for he is risen, as he said.  Come, see the place where the Lord lay."  (Matt 28:6)

When I was 15, my friend's mother committed suicide.  When I was 16, one of my friends was killed in a car accident.  When I was 17, one of my friends died from spinal meningitis.  When I was 18, another friend was killed in a car accident.  When I was 19, one of my friend's died from cancer, one committed suicide.  Six friends in 5 years - I wasn't even 20 years old and had been to more funerals than some people attend in a lifetime, and the numbers didn't stop there.

Some people have asked me how long it took me to get over these deaths.  Well, to answer that honestly would be to say that I haven't.  For the most part, four of them aren't thought of as often.  They were friends, but not close friends.  The other two - not a day goes by that I don't think of Colleen or Donna.  I don't sob like I did back in the 70's, 80's and early 90's.  Yes, some 30 years!  There has always been a picture on the wall or on an end table for me to glance at.  I spent many days just sitting at their graves talking to them as the tears rolled down my face.

So what changed?  This verse!  The reality was that I was here and they were gone.  I could have spent another 30 years sobbing, but I did not.  The power of God is an unbelievable power.  He can heal your heart and will heal your heart when it's time.  Life goes on.  We make new friends and build new memories.  At 16 and 17, I felt like I'd never be able to make new friends...I did.  I thought I'd never be able to tuck their memories away and pull them out every once in a while.  I didn't think I'd ever stop crying.

God reminded me that they are safe, with him.

For many years, I had spent the anniversary of their death wiping tears, remembering moments and imagining what life would have been like had God's plan not taken such sweet, caring souls from this world when He did.  Their laughter lives on in each of their friends and our hearts long to hear one more word or have one last glance. They in the greatest place imaginable, in the presences of our mighty King. They took nothing with them, yet they have more than they will ever need. Like those of us still left here, they battled the enemy and fought the demons and were triumphantly received into a place of honor and glory for all eternity! They have received their inheritance and patiently wait for us to receive ours. 

God's plan for us may just be to walk with Him each day until the time comes for us to receive our inheritance. We may never be the great orator, the popular celebrity, or the rich philanthropist we might like to believe we could be. We may never own more than the clothes on our back, we may never be the one who gets "all the breaks", and we may never be anything more than a footnote in someone's family history - but we are destined for greatness, in a quiet and subtle way - we are destined for heaven - there is no greater inheritance than that!

It's okay to cry when your heart is broken.  Nothing anyone will say can make it better.  Only in God's time will you be able to remember your friend with love and laughter.  There is no time limit on grief...it ends when it ends!

Today is the 13th anniversary of my brother-in-law's remains being unearthed at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan.  There are no tears, only joy that he was able to be laid to rest in someplace other than the dust of the Trade Center.  He, too, is with Jesus, waiting on his family to join him there.  I look forward to that!

Allow Jesus to enter your heart and heal it.  I won't be today and it probably won't be tomorrow, but the healing will come...in HIS time!