August 2nd marked 5 years since my mom went to be with Jesus. 5 years. I can’t believe it. In some ways, it feels like all of that heartache and grieving was a lifetime ago, but in other ways, it feels like it all just happened yesterday.
So much life has happened since that August day. My husband and I have celebrated more anniversaries. We’ve become the parents of 2 sweet boys. My brother married his high school sweetheart. I went from teaching full time, to not at all, to teaching part time to be able to spend more time with our boys. The Lord has given my husband and I 6 years of doing student ministry. And last but not least, my dad is engaged to one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet.
That first year without Mom was tough. We praised the Lord for healing Mom completely, and the hope that we have of knowing that she was with her Savior anchored our souls, but it was still hard. So hard. But now that it’s been 5 years, I look back on that first year, and as weird as this is going to sound, I laugh a little.
Everything we did that year was a “first” without Mom. We were trying to figure out our “new normal” (what is normal anyway? Ha!). We did so many things that were not normal for our family. We moved my brother into college for his freshman year, and went on THE most unorganized Wal-Mart trip you could imagine (the total opposite of how Mom would’ve handled that). We spent Thanksgiving night at a coffee shop. Our first Christmas without Mom consisted of naps and a “Duck Dynasty” marathon. Nothing too crazy, but none of this was our “norm”. It was like we were fumbling around in the dark.
We fumbled our way through that first year, and in a way, I was relieved when the first year anniversary of mom’s passing rolled around. It was the last “first”, and I was honestly thankful to have it behind us. The Lord has guided us to a new “normal” over these past 5 years, and I am so thankful. We spend our Saturdays on the lake. I’ve gained sisters that I’ve always wanted (and they’re even sweet enough to include me in their Miss America watch parties. I’m not sure who’s more thankful for that- Jack or me.). We’ve learned how to watch two football games at once when Carolina and Clemson are playing at the same time. Our family gatherings are loud and crazy (which 3/4 of that loudness can totally be blamed on my boys), but I love it. The Lord has taken darkness, brokenness, and sadness, and He has made it beautiful.
The Lord didn’t leave us in the dark. He was right there with us in the valley. I felt His presence with us as we worshipped Him in our living room moments after Mom went to be with Him. I felt His presence at her funeral and every step of the way there after. The Lord was with us in the valley, and now He has brought us to the mountain. Do I still miss Mom, and are some things still hard? Definitely. The Lord is teaching me that grieving is a journey. But He led us out of the storm into calmer waters. Waters that I didn’t think I would be in, but waters that are beautiful and so fun.
I say all of this to give glory to the Lord for all that He has done, and to tell all of you who are believers in Jesus Christ this- the Lord won’t leave you in the dark. If you feel like you’re fumbling around in the dark, The Lord is there with you. He won’t leave you there. He will take your brokenness and make it beautiful for His glory. We will have times of trouble, Scripture tells us that, but Scripture also tells us that we serve a God who is sovereign over those times. He sees us and cares for us in our trials, and He promises to be with us while we’re there. He doesn’t leave us. He is with us and goes before us. He is faithful. Trust Jesus, the Light of the world, the hope that anchors your soul.