I have been privileged to meet and hear the stories of many bereaved parents since losing Joel. Although I would have never have willingly chosen to join their ranks, I am thankful for the bond we share, the friendships we’re forging and the things I am learning from each of them.
Weeks ago I ran across a quote that said, “A friend hears the song in your heart and sings it to you when you forget the words.” I thought it perfectly described the small group of bereaved moms who have been meeting me at Panera for a little over two years now.
Our friendship has been a safe place to be honest about hard days, to discuss how we can keep moving forward, and to seek prayer. Sharing our stories has been healing and helps dispel the isolation of being a bereaved parent.
We understand each other’s struggles and have patience for each other’s grief because we know we need it ourselves. The humble words of wisdom we offer each other is hard fought for and easier to receive.
The most healing thing for me this year has been the laughter we’ve shared. We each know the cost of and the deep sadness in the laughter. There are no expectations whatsoever that laughter is a sign that we are “over” the deaths of our precious sons. This deep knowing we share makes the pain and the laughter more bearable and frees us to laugh more deeply and more often.
Having a group of moms who are committed to following Christ and encouraging each other through such a difficult journey has been a lifeline for me. Their influence has made me stronger and wiser. I am forever grateful for them.
Two of our little group are moving to different states this year. 🙁 I created this little multi media art canvas as a small memorial depicting how God has worked through each of us to encourage the others. I hope that it will help us remember the words to our songs.
I dressed each mom in boots because the road bereaved moms walk is hard and dark and requires a determination and commitment to travel.
Our arms are linked showing the steadied, strength we’ve found in traveling this road together. The crowns on our heads depict the joy that we bring to Jesus as we hold tenaciously to His promise that although the road is dark and hard now, one day it will end with a crown of joy:
“The LORD’s ransomed ones will return and enter Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: joy and gladness will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” Isaiah 35:10
Each of us brings different gifts to the group; each sings a different song. One offers a candle of hope; another, a voracious reader, the admonition to keep trusting in the Lord; a third shows us by example how to hold on tightly to God’s faithful love towards us and a fourth has girded herself with the truth that this road we are traveling requires faithful perseverance.
The words on the faces, arms and knees of each mom are the verses that each gift embodies:
Hope: 2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
Trust: Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
Faithful Love: Psalm 143:8 Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
Perseverance: Hebrews 10:23-25 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.. encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
These three friends have shown me how to be an alabaster jar, broken at the Lord’s feet, bringing sweetness and healing to others not despite their brokenness, but because of it. Their transparency has been a healing balm to my heart. Proverbs 27:9 is the verse to the right of the canvas:
“The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and fragrant oils.”
Thank you, Jill, Lisa and Cyndi for giving me so many encouraging gifts in the journey. I love you all.