Monday, April 27, 2009


4 15 09
Irony of it being tax day!!

After a long absence of writing (publically), I am drawn to share this entry with you called “Stop-Loss.” Why this phrase kept coming to my mind, I don’t know. My apologies to financial folks. My mind kept being drawn to the military reference of a ‘stop-loss order.’ A paraphrase of a stop-loss order is an order that is given to military members who do not want to re-enlist but are not allowed to get out of the military. Often this is due to a need to keep the present numbers in the military or a particular need for this service person’s gifting/ability. Wikipedia defines it as “the involuntary extension of a service member's active duty service under the enlistment contract in order to retain them beyond their initial end of term of service (ETS) date.”

Intro: I wrote this almost 2 months ago and I did not share it then because I was not sure of its message. Now I understand it clearer and it has been affirmed through further understanding of the grief cycle. The ‘Stop-Loss Order’ on my grief is over. While I believe I was finished my grief a while ago, I now believe I can make a clear public statement that this chapter is closed. The memories of past chapters will always be an underpinning of future chapters as Michael’s life is inextricably woven into mine. The new chapters, however, will contain me as a single, whole person. The decisions I make as a child of the King are between me and Him. I no longer base my decisions on what Michael would want. Please don’t get me wrong. Many decisions could include thoughts/values we shared, but they are now presented from me alone.

Somewhere along the line it happens. Grief Stops being self-focused. Soon after one’s own loss there are others—another church member, a terminally ill child in the community, the soldier-hero in the next town, your friend’s are sad for them but you run the loss parallel to your own. (Two friends lost parents in the last 2 days.) You understand the (what I call) “behind the veil understanding,” the connected part of your relationship with the one lost and the reality of yourself still being on this side of life. Eventually your inner being separates from the one you have lost in a way that they become “other” though a woven part of the tapestry of who you are. You can begin to address the losses of others in a ‘whole presence’ kind of way.

I often remind people that we cannot ever compare losses-each one is unique like a snowflake. We do, however, run similarities and feel the comparisons. Grace growing in our lives begins to release us to love and hurt for others. I’m still pondering how one processes memories. I missed Michael’s presence today. It is better for one to allow this. If not, then we feel we have to cover it, fix it, or hide it. I appreciated the things I missed and enjoyed the feelings the memories evoked. (I'm actually entering this on what would have been our 23rd anniversary, April 26th.)

My boss’ sister took her journey to Jesus a few weeks ago—cancer took her body but joy and praise radiated from her being I’ve been told. Grief can be like cancer—it can destroy us bit by bit. Or, we can embrace the effects of grief and grow in obedience and trust. It will change things in our life but God will lead us one step at a time to the new normal—a place where we begin to have purpose again; where we can see fruit in our lives based on who we are in Jesus (minus one type of identity). We even enter opportunities to comfort others “as we have been comforted (II Corinthians 1:3-5). It is a humbling and rewarding experience. Do we ever imagine we could be in this place or role?!

Maybe that is the ‘stop-loss.’ God keeps us in a certain place of grief until HE designs us to transition into the ‘shift change’ of the new chapter of our lives.

How is God using the circumstances of YOUR life? I met a new friend this week. Her name is Debbie. I am so proud of how she is serving as an ambassador for the King of Kings in the workplace...never a mission field she would have planned for herself. Go God!

Today...His day.
He is worthy of praise. His loss--my gain. Humbling.



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