All the Septembers


For the past two Septembers, right around the time the leaves change color and begin to fall, I've felt this lump begin forming in my throat. It seems to reach all the way from my throat down to the pit of my stomach. Sometimes I will just be washing dishes or sitting on the floor playing with the baby and I will feel tears rolling unbeckoned, unannounced down my face.

It's like my body remembers before my consciousness what happened three years ago- that at this time in 2013 the writing was on the wall, and as each leaf fell from the majestic trees I felt pieces of my life breaking apart and cascading down too, just out of reach, only to get crumpled under the feet of a world that just kept moving on.

I knew it was coming this year too, but yet somehow even though I expected it, grief snuck up on me. I am still not sure how. I posted a guard. I even prepared a place for this unwelcome guest, but he must have snuck in the backdoor of my heart because the other day I felt a familiar lump rise up in my throat and I had to remind myself to breathe. I sat on the couch with my kids piling on my lap for a bedtime story and I had to dig my fingers into my thigh in a feeble attempt to hold back the sobs. Yesterday morning Titus and I took a walk while the other three kids were at school. One single leaf dropped down from high up in a tree. It fell slow but steady and landed among others in a muddy pile along the side of the road. I found myself down on the concrete rescuing leaves. Gathering them up, washing them with my tears and trembling fingers. I brought them home because I just couldn't stand the thought of them laying there in the mud, without a meaning, without anyone noticing.


In the past few years I have become impassioned about hearing other people's stories, the ones that burn like fire in their chest, that sit on the edge of their lips or tucked away in some crevice of the heart. I've learned we all have one, a story given by God that helps define and direct us, and often they come with a price. Hearing those stories, feeling the weight of them has helped me in my own story to see the Author and main character of them all. They have given me perspective in times of grief and hard grace. In seasons like this when the grief is sneaky and strong, I am tempted to lock myself away or to hold my breath and plunge down deep in the swamp of self-pity. I hate that tendency in myself, and I've learned to fight against it, not by stuffing down the ugly, hard emotions, but by feeling them deeply and living in the midst of them.

The best way I have learned to do this is by praying for other people who are facing their own struggles. So, those of you surprised by grief today, those of you bracing against it waiting for the next inevitable gust of it, those of you trudging one step at a time through the muck of it, I am lifting you up in tearful prayer today. Some of you by name, and for those of you whose names I don't know, I trust the Holy Spirit does. I am allowing Him to carry your heart to the throne of God. May that be a source of comfort and strength for you, wherever you find yourself.

On Sunday at church we sang the song "When Death was Arrested" (I have shared the lyrics below) . So many days, (okay really every day whether I admit it or not), the strength that carries me is the knowledge that my God is victorious over death.  Whether that death is literal physical death, the figurative death of dreams, hopes, expectations or the long, slow death of someone's mind. I am constantly reminded that my greatest problem is not Alzheimer's. It is not grief or pain or any kind of waiting or suffering I will encounter in this life. My greatest problem was my sin and the separation is caused between me and my Heavenly Father. That problem was gloriously, beautifully, pain-stakingly covered at the Cross. Whatever may come in this life, whatever problems or heartaches I may face, my greatest problem has been solved, the greatest ache of my heart has been satisfied. And someday heaven is going to make all of this sneaky grief business vanish too.
We have a new lead Pastor at our church and this Sunday he is beginning a new sermon series called "Seasons". You guys, I sat in church last week and cried over the images in the promo-video, like ugly cried, (which probably surprises no one) because the metaphor of seasons has been both light and heavy on my heart lately. And because, let's face it, I am an utter mess. It is a rare week that I am not crying in church. My raw heart is ready to hear his words. This is unconventional for me to do this on my blog, I would love so much for you to join me at my favorite place this Sunday. I will be the one snotting all over myself towards the left middle of the worship center. Maybe for once I will remember tissues. If that isn't a lovely invitation I don't know what is! Sheesh! I am not helping myself at all here so I'm just going to leave my church's website here. You can attend in person at one of our three campuses or stream online.

 http://www.northridgerochester.com/


Alone in my sorrow dead in my sin
Lost without hope with no place to begin
Your love Made a way to let mercy come in
When death was arrested and my life began

Ash was redeemed only beauty remains 
My orphan heart was given a name
My mourning grew quiet my feet rose to dance
When death was arrested and my life began

Oh your grace so free
Washes over me 
You have made me new
Now life begins with you
It's your endless love
Pouring down on us
You have made us new
Now life begins with you

Released from my chains I'm a prisoner no more
My shame was a ransom he faithfully bore
He cancelled my debt and he called me his friend
When death was arrested and my life began

Our savior displayed on a criminal's cross
Darkness rejoiced as though heaven had lost
But then Jesus arose with our freedom in hand
That's when death was arrested and my life began 
That's when death was arrested and my life began 


Oh we're free free
Forever we're free
Come join the song
Of all the redeemed

Yes we're free free
Forever amen
When death was arrested 
and my life began 

By North Point InsideOut

16 comments:

  1. Oh, my heart! Beautifully written! Thank you for sharing your story--it has touched me deeply. And that song--what meaningful lyrics. I will need to check that one out.
    So thankful Christina G. sent me your way!

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    1. Thank you so much! I am honored that my words were able to be used by God to touch you. Honestly, that is such an answer to my prayers! I am thankful for Christina in many ways as well! And sorry to just be responding. I am not great at checking the comments!

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    2. Thank you so much! I am honored that my words were able to be used by God to touch you. Honestly, that is such an answer to my prayers! I am thankful for Christina in many ways as well! And sorry to just be responding. I am not great at checking the comments!

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  2. Sweet friend, I am right there with you. Dreading the Fall (October for me) and trying to swallow down that lump in the throat. But thank you for the reminder that my biggest problem has been taken care of. Redeemed. I'm forever free. As I sang that song on Sunday, God's peace and grace was washing over me and reminding me that because He has been victorious over death, my grief is temporary and it only makes heaven that much closer! I will likely be ugly crying with you too through parts of this season, so save me some tissues in case I forget mine ��

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    1. Somehow I missed your comment until now. Sweet friend, I love you and your heart so much! I have been praying for you and carrying some of your heartache with me this month of October. I am so thankful for your testimony of God's goodness and faithfulness despite facing some of the hardest life has to offer. hugs.

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    2. Somehow I missed your comment until now. Sweet friend, I love you and your heart so much! I have been praying for you and carrying some of your heartache with me this month of October. I am so thankful for your testimony of God's goodness and faithfulness despite facing some of the hardest life has to offer. hugs.

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  3. Em...thanks for sharing!

    Loved this line...

    "Hearing those stories, feeling the weight of them has helped me in my own story to see the Author and main character of them all."

    Adam

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    1. thanks so much for reading and for your encouragement, Adam! Sorry I just saw your comment. #slackingblogger

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    2. thanks so much for reading and for your encouragement, Adam! Sorry I just saw your comment. #slackingblogger

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  4. Emily! I thought i was the only one who cried almost every week at church! Tear cheers!

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    1. haha! I am choosing to view are sensitivity as a good thing!

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    2. haha! I am choosing to view are sensitivity as a good thing!

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  6. Have you ever had a moment where you feel like God has written you a personal love letter through someone else's words? Yep. This post was one for me. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your vulnerability in this post. I will be dwelling on these words long after I've read them.

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    1. Krystal, oh my goodness. That is amazing! Thank you so much for sharing those encouraging words with me! I am so thankful and incredibly honored, that God would use my words to speak love to you! What an answer to my prayers. Thank you again for reading and taking the time to encourage me!

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    2. Krystal, oh my goodness. That is amazing! Thank you so much for sharing those encouraging words with me! I am so thankful and incredibly honored, that God would use my words to speak love to you! What an answer to my prayers. Thank you again for reading and taking the time to encourage me!

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