Guest post by Julie Tash
I was asked to write a blog about loss… what I learned thru it, what I wish more people understood about it…. Hmmm, this feels a daunting task…. How do I write in a short blog what God has pounded into me over the last 3.5 years… so, I’ll summarize it in 3 easy words and go from there…. LIFE IS H-A-R-D! Brilliant and earth shattering, right!?
I’ve decided we like to believe the promises in the Bible that are pretty, the ones that make us feel good and maybe lift our spirits… BUT, Jesus says something in John 16:33 that hurts, that is hard, and we really don’t want to hear, He says “In this world YOU WILL HAVE SUFFERING” …. We like the last part of the verse, and remember it well “Be Courageous! I have conquered the world!” Praise Jesus! Hallelujah!! But what I’ve come to learn so clearly is, that friends, we live on a hard, broken, messed up planet, and if we are a Jesus follower we have an enemy that hates our existence. We Will have Troubles….. now, how do we get through them?
What do you do when you get the call…. The one you never dreamed of getting, the one your brain can’t process that you are hearing, the one that leaves you in a heap of tears in the middle of the kitchen floor with the room spinning….? The word everyone dreads and no one can be prepared for… C-A-N-C-E-R.
Life as I had known it came to an end June 2011, to say I am a different person now would be a gross understatement. Looking back I can see how God had been preparing me for this. I had “happened” to hear a teaching about writing down your pillars – the things that are absolutes, that you Know about God – when things are going decently normal, so that when the bottom falls out you don’t even have to think about it, you just rehearse what you have already determined. I had actually done this…… so, to answer the above question, that’s what I did, as I’m sitting in the kitchen floor, world crashing all around me, I stopped myself and thought “ok Julie, what do you KNOW?”……1. God Is Good, no matter what 2. God Loves Me 3. I won’t ask Why
These pillars sustained me. When every emotion was screaming and life was loud and dark and deep, these pillars would bring me back to center. I realized in a very neon lights kind of way that we are very “layered” people. Once we realize this and are able to identify which layer we are listening to, handling emotional craziness gets a little easier. What in the world does that mean? For me it meant that at the very core of my existence is a deep conviction that there is a God that deeply cares about the tiniest details of everyone’s life. That He loves me with a love that I cannot comprehend, and that somehow, even when it makes absolutely no sense to me, He is working every single detail of my life for my ultimate good and His glory. That is One layer, it is deep and it is fierce…. however, there are numerous other layers of emotional “yuck” that try to cover it up, that will throw a million questions from every direction, and are very loud! Grief, trauma, deep darkness that are relentless and will make you question everything you know….thus the need for your pillars. Pillars have a way of making everything else be quiet (or at least turn them down to a mild roar). When my mind would be raging about how this could all be possible, when deep anger would rear it’s ugly head, I would have to bring myself back in to the knowledge that God knows all about every single detail of this situation, He loves everyone involved deeply, and He is working this all together in some kind of master plan that I cannot begin to understand but must trust that it is so.
Speaking of anger… did you know that it’s ok to be mad at God? Because, when you think about it, when you sift through all of the yuck, all the blaming, questioning, layers of yuck don’t you seem to end up with this one thing… that God is in control of everything, He Could have _________ fill in the blank… healed this person, kept it from ever happening in the first place, on and on….. BUT He Didn’t! What do we do with that? I came to a place that I was so angry, and obviously I must be angry with God, who else is there, that all I could say to God was “I know I need You, I don’t really want You right now, I’m so angry at you I can hardly stand it, just help somehow…..” sometimes all I could say was “Help!” And you know what, I truly believe God is completely ok with that. As long as we offer ourselves to Him, trusting Him with whatever miniscule drop of faith we have, and don’t completely harden our hearts to Him, I fully know that this is the type of relationship He embraces. He knows every emotion we are feeling anyway, and I believe he Longs for us to come to Him and express these deep hurts to Him. His shoulders are big, He can handle our anger.
I remember sitting in my dying Mom’s hospital room, sitting face to face with her, holding hands, crying, both realizing this was not going to end the way we had hoped. In that moment I realized something…We tend to go thru life (at least I did) with clenched fists, demanding from God, expecting My way, My prayers to be answered, and if it doesn’t happen the way I want then God you aren’t good, and You must not Love us, and what is all this Hope and Faith stuff for anyway when you’re just going to do what you want, and Do you like to see us suffer? And we’ve served and trusted you for this many years and this is how it’s all going to end? And What? I’ve lived this kind of life and I haven’t done this and this and I have done that and that.. and REALLY God?!?...... Well maybe you don’t think this way, but I know my brain was filled and overflowing with these kind of thoughts……… But what I learned in that moment is that God expects us to live with hands wide open, freely receiving from Him, freely giving back to Him what was never ours to begin with… that this life is Never about Us – our wants, our dreams, our plans – it’s All about Him – His plans to make his Name known and to Let us be involved in the process. What has become so brutally clear to me is that there are things that I Need to know that I am Only going to truly Learn – like the deep down inside kind of LEARN – by walking straight thru hell with Him.
There are things in me that need to be gone and there are things God needs to add to me, and that process is only going to happen by me living thru the mess with Him, learning to trust Him fully.
Since June 2011 I’ve watched my Mom battle and die slowly from ovarian cancer, then, not even a year later, my Grandma was diagnosed with lymphoma, 22 days later she was gone, three months later my Grandma’s brother died from cancer….. it’s been hard, gut-wrenching, life changing hard……Period…… I can’t wrap it up in a pretty bow and say I understand it all, "and you can too if you just do these 3 easy steps"…. But This I DO Know… God IS Good, God Does LOVE us, and we don’t Have to know WHY…because we Can KNOW Him, and we can trust that if He brings something into our lives it is for a reason, and somehow, if we let Him, He does let us catch our breath, and dance over our sacred broken places, and He will bring beauty from the ashes…..until then my friends, let’s be broken together......