A month and three days.The pain is still just as crushing, and I suppose it will be for awhile. I don’t think there is a defined timetable though–some magic date when I’m ok. People keep telling me that it will get easier. Perhaps they’re right. Perhaps they’re wrong. I don’t know. Sometimes I still think, “How is this possible God? Wasn’t there another way?” God’s grace is overwhelmingly tangible, but likewise so are the extreme emotions. It has not gotten any easier. There are days when God gives grace to speak abundant truth to myself and others. Days where I can see God’s hand. Days where I know He is working in and through me. Days when I want to serve and minister. But more often than not, there are days of intense struggle. I wonder when there will be a day without tears. I wonder when I won’t feel like I have to hold it together for my Kinders all day, and then weep on the way home. I wonder when it will seem like I have a future. I’m learning that grief is not black and white. God’s spirit within me might be saying one thing, and my emotions totally the opposite. I’m realizing that it is possible to trust God even in the midst of questions. It is the Gospel, of course, that makes me free to struggle.
For days God has put on my heart that it was time to post again. But I’ve avoided it. I didn’t think I could tackle “this” subject, not yet. But God keeps bringing me here. So I guess I’m just going to ramble and we’ll see where my thoughts take me.
When we went to the ER that night, I don’t think either one us of expected that I would leave alone. I most certainly did not. I had even packed a bag because I was sure we’d be transferred 45 minutes away to a larger hospital (where Jon’s cardiologist was), just like we had been the week after Christmas. This trip was different though. This time everything happened fast. It seemed as if the entire nursing staff was in there doing something, and they were all doing it quickly.
But I still thought it would be ok. In my head, the only plausible scenario was that Jon would be going into surgery once we were transferred to St. Anthony’s. After all, we had just seen the cardiologist two days before. He had ordered more invasive tests, planned to schedule surgery shortly thereafter, and was definitely frustrated that he couldn’t see exactly what was going on. He assured us, however, that Jon’s symptoms were not life-threatening. So I sat there preparing myself for open heart surgery, Jon’s long recovery, financial pressures, putting our desire for children on the back burner… This was the suffering we had seen coming. This was the suffering about which God and I had had many conversations.
And as they worked, Jon was still being Jon, talking, telling them he hated being stuck with needles. In those moments there was never a glimmer of thought that he might die. God would not take me through that. At one point the doctor said, “Ok looks like your blood pressure is high enough and stable enough to transfer you.” But still they worked at a feverish pace. So either there was much they weren’t telling me, or they couldn’t foresee things turning badly either.
There are some details about the ER that I just can’t write, nor will I probably ever write. It was trauma in ever sense of the word. I’ve already replayed them a thousand times in my mind, as it is. But reliving the most horrific moments of my life does not help. It is not healing balm for my soul.
I realized that things were serious, but I still didn’t know. As the nurses flurried in and out, there wasn’t much time for conversation between Jon and I. But I told him at one point, “Babe, I know you don’t want them to do these things, but they have to. It’s ok lovee,” and he said, “I know, love.” But the nurses were everywhere, so that was it.
Right before the unthinkable, God gave us one beautiful moment. A nurse moved out of the way, and my darling love looked at me with eyes so full of love, adoration, but yet sadness too. And I gazed back at him. Then it was gone. The nurse once again blocked my view. Perhaps Jon had realized then; I don’t know. I still did not. But between us passed the depth of our love, without any words. i’m so thankful for that moment. Praise God for grace even then.
And then almost immediately, life shattered. They tried to bring him back for over an hour. At one point, they had. But God said his days were done.
Now I must take us on a small rabbit trail, but there is point. It all interconnects.
Jon was a preaching junkie. He listened to podcasts all the time. It was one way the thirst for truth manifested itself. And he usually wrangled me into his passion as well. One sermon we listened to months ago was “The Underestimated God” preached by Lig Duncan from Together for the Gospel 2012. Jon had gotten to go to the conference, but still listened to all the messages again when he got home! See what I mean, sermon junkie. But I digress.
So let’s connect “The Underestimated God” and the Night in the ER. I listened to the sermon again recently and God is still overwhelming with me its truth. It’s all about suffering. And idolatry. It’s about when life’s expectations are unfulfilled or shattered. And it’s about the “ruthless compassionate pursuing grace of God, in which He relentlessly goes after His servants for His glory, and their everlasting joy.”
And that’s just it. Somehow, the most horrific night of my life is God’s grace. God is relentlessly coming after ALL of me. He wants it all. And somehow this will work out for my everlasting joy. My joy!! I don’t understand it, but in taking Jon, He will show me so much more of Christ than I would have ever comprehended or thought possible. When I think about the night my expectations were shattered, God enables me to say with confidence say that Jesus is the best, even when my emotions say opposite.
Ok, so I’m probably not being very clear at this point. Well, then here’s what you need to do. Go listen to the sermon! For real. Seriously, use your smart phone and listen to it while you drive. I promise you, it will be some of the best 57 minutes you could ever spend. There is so much there that I haven’t even scratched the surface of in this post. And Lig Duncan can say it so much better than me. I’ll even attach the link: The Underestimated God– Ligon Duncan
When I edited Jon’s posts, I told him that people wanted to read small chunks. Ha! I guess I don’t take my own advice. But, I warned you this would be a ramble.
“Lord I know that you are relentlessly pursuing all of my heart. As I continue to experience all of the extreme emotions of Jon’s death, the longing for him and missing him, I know you are teaching me that you are enough. Somehow it is your grace that took Jon home. Somehow it is in your grace that you have stripped it all way. You want all of me, and I want to learn to give it to you. You are doing in my life what will lead to everlasting joy. It’s hard to see Lord. But faith is trusting when it doesn’t make sense. Lord do what you need to do in me! Lord thank you for tangible grace. I cannot neglect to write of your goodness even now in the depth of the valley…”
Psalm 138:8 “The Lord will fulfill His purposes for me; your steadfast love, O Lord endures forever…”
He’s still relentlessly pursuing my heart. To read about God’s continuing, tangible grace…
He is Abundant: Reflecting on a Year After Death
An Oak of Righteousness? Two Years After Death