Thursday, September 1

fall lessons

It's the first day of September. And although it's still reaching 104 degrees most days, the idea of September evokes visions of scarves and new books, pumpkins, hot soups, apple tarts, and all my favorite colors in play. The fall is my favorite season. It's just so cozy. So while it is still blistering hot outside, I will politely ignore the heat, stay inside and make maple leaf decorations. I was talking with Mandi the other night, and recapping for her all that the Lord has taught me in the last couple weeks, and wanted to share here.

After summer, Blair and I took a trip to Westcliffe, Colorado. It was beautiful... each day I enjoyed early mornings with a cup of coffee, watching a family of chipmunks scurry about the neighbor's garden. The pace of life was slow and relaxing, a much needed reprieve from the 13 straight weeks of 14-16 hour work days.

I had told my friends that I wanted the trip to help me get my bearings, and reset my internal compass of life. What I really wanted was for God to reinvent me, and tell me, "Okay! Now you're going to have these kinds of hobbies, and your days will be filled up with these activities and friends, and eventually your family will look like this." Since losing Gwen, I've felt like everything needs to be different... because everything IS different. The first and only day I tried returning to work at the office I locked myself in a bathroom and bawled. I hated the feeling of sitting there like I had a thousand times before, carrying on with work as if nothing is different. (Thankfully, my boss let me work from home.)

Other than cooking, which I barely remember to do, I have yet to get into any of my old hobbies. But while on the trip and telling God all these things, He told me, "Erin, I chose YOU. I chose you, with your habits, quirks, personality, giftings, hobbies, and talents. I don't want to reinvent you, dear. I want you to be the Erin I created you to be... which includes being a Hope Mom, and still do things that I created your heart to love."

That was Lesson #1: I was created to carry Gwen, be a Hope Mom, and still be me and find joy.

Lesson #2 was something God had already been working on since before our trip. I believe that since October 20, God has hollowed out a space for me to truly mourn and understand the depths of mourning. But He's made it clear that He's trying to draw me out of the valley, and that involves being in relationship with others. I have avoided other people because I couldn't handle their lives continuing on with happiness. But ultimately, that's just selfishness. I am to rejoice with those who rejoice. I am commanded to rejoice. And if I choose not to rejoice, I am sinning. So that is my two options: Engage with your friends and rejoice with them, trusting that God will bandage up the wounds that can create, or stay isolated, choose sin, and refuse to engage. So my choice is to rejoice.

Lesson #3. This is hard for me to explain, but I'll try. Imagine you have a large rucksack full of your Loss. It contains disappointed hopes, heartache, sadness, death, and a crushed spirit. It's so heavy that you're stooped over, stumbling as you try to keep taking step after step. You've carried it with you for a long time, and you're very used to the weight of it. Sometimes you're so used to the burden that you forget about it. You're fearful of dropping it or leaving it behind. It's a very precious thing to you, even though it's very hard. You would rather carry it than not have it at all.

So day after day, you walk on. And slowly, other things are being given to you to carry ... things you've already had, but maybe forgot about because of the Loss. A marriage. Other children. Family, friends that love you. Talents, goals, hobbies. And your arms become so full, that you cannot carry anything anymore. So your options are this: Embrace what is alive and in front of you, or alienate the good and hold on to your Loss.

This is what God has been trying to tell me, "Erin. You're just a grasshopper. And you can't carry all of this, sweetheart. Only I can handle the full weight of death, and carry the full weight of joy. I can be both deep extremes, because I AM. So let me carry Gwen, and you carry the pieces of her that I want you to have. I want you to remember her joyously. I want you to remember how precious life is, and intentionally value every person I've blessed you with. I want you to fully engage in your marriage, in your family, and with your friends, because through Gwen you've learned the value of these gifts. If you try to carry it all, you'll lose the beauty that I've brought out of her life, and all you'll see is your own bitterness. So you be a grasshopper, and I'll be God."

I don't know if that makes sense. But it's much easier to engage in life when I'm not trying to be God. And I think it's much easier on my relationships when I stop holding Gwen's death over their heads like a beating stick, just waiting for them to be happy so I can whack them.

Lesson #4. I remember in the GCM discipleship class, we talked a lot about truth and feelings. Described as a train, Biblical truth is the engine, choices are the coal car, and feelings are the caboose. The idea is that as your are led by Biblical truth, your feelings will follow accordingly. I never really liked this idea. But I think that is because I ruled out time. Time is the tracks, and it takes a long time before feelings catch up. I feel like I'm now benefiting emotionally from having recited and clung to truth, months and months ago. You could also call this "healing", I think. It's what God has promised to do... to bind up the brokenhearted.

I'm really thankful for what the Lord has taught and is continuing to deepen in my soul... He is faithful.


  1. Your words are always so sweet to me. I love your tender heart and I love how God is meeting you there. ♥

  2. This is beautiful, God is doing beautiful things in and through you. Thank you for continually sharing your journey with us and allowing us to learn and experience this beauty with you. You are an incredible woman, Erin. I am blessed to know you.