I talk a lot, I write a lot and I think a lot and sometimes I forget what I’ve said to whom, what I’ve written and when, and what thoughts bounced around versus ones that actually found their way out of my head. I suppose a good way to organize some of that to keep from repeating myself is to go back and re-read what I’ve written. Not only might it keep me from saying the same things again, it would also be a good indicator of how far I’ve come since I started this journey. Problem is, I’m not in a reading mood. I’m in a writing mood.
I always try to convey hope when I write, but oftentimes those words come from a place of pain and sometimes what feels like defeat. That’s how the Lord works in me. It’s as if He’s saying “Yes, this is so so bad and I’m so sorry you’re going through it, but you need to feel it, embrace it and accept it because I’m going to use it, and when I use your pain, you will be stronger. You will see growth. Your peace will increase along with your joy, and one day, maybe tomorrow or maybe when you’re with Me, it will make sense, but until then, be you and trust Me.”
Fun fact. Being me isn’t easy.
I am aware of some good qualities, but I’m also acutely aware of the bad. The internal struggle and self control required to maintain peace is on-going and full time, so when the Lord tells me to “just be you” I have to trust that He, if no one else, gets me, and He’s kinda partial to me. I’m not altogether sure how He puts up with the quirkiness, the sometimes tongue in cheek sense of humor, the stubbornness, or countless other flaws, but I don’t think He focuses on my flaws as much as I do. I think He sees them, and very tenderly improves upon them, but I think He focuses on the parts of me that bring Him joy. When I hear Him say “just be you”, I know I have to give myself a measure of grace without allowing myself to just let go and become something other than He created me to be. Seeing me the way He sees me is tough.
Second fun fact. Trusting Him isn’t always easy.
Just as I pick and choose which parts of me I like, I pick and choose what I trust Him with. I spoke to a group of people almost a year ago about losing my son and posed this question: You know Him but do you TRUST Him? In context to the speech, I never stopped trusting Hagen to the Lord. Ever. It was easy for me to believe that God had him. It was easy for me to relinquish my son to the relentless pursuit of his Savior. That’s faith, sure, but in this new season I see that once we attain a level of faith and grow comfortable in it we can become complacent. Our faith stops growing because our trials stop. The Lord never leaves us where He finds us and I believe wholeheartedly that it is His desire that not only does our faith not diminish, it continues to grow. In order for it to grow it has to be tested, stretched and strengthened and that doesn’t happen when everything is hunky dory. It happens in the trenches, valleys and storms. That’s where we realize our need for Him and that’s where He is faithfully found. Each time I have to fight to trust him, I gain ground, and when I gain ground, the enemy loses his. But it isn’t easy.
So, what is my point? My point is that I’ve been in the trenches and the enemy lost some footing today and I want to share. I originally thought I would just tell my story, hit post and move on, but as always, there was more to it than I realized.
So this trench I've been in... On March 23, 2019, I stood over a flag draped casket that held the earthly remains of my first born and I worshipped to the song that I had prayed over him countless times. Their lyrics always increased my faith and hope that Hagen would overcome because Jesus relentlessly pursued him regardless of where he was. Make no mistake, he overcame and I worshipped with him one last time to a song that expressed the beauty of the love our Savior has for us. The overwhelming, never ending reckless love.
In the moment it was the only song that would do. In the days, weeks, and months that followed, that song... that representation of perfect love... became attached to my son's death, not my Savior, and instead of a beacon of hope, it became a symbol of sorrow. The enemy hijacked my jam, y'all, and as soon as I heard the first few chords, I was filled with sadness and the visualization of a flag draped casket. I lost ground and was filled with remorse that the prayers I said weren't enough to keep him here (as if I had that power) so the volume was either abruptly turned down or another station was found in a quick fast hurry. There was no worship. Only pain. I hurt and the enemy giggled and man, did it burn me up that he had taken that from me. Seems silly maybe to play tug of war with a song, but he will come after whatever he can to steal, kill and destroy you, especially if he can cause your faith to waiver. Especially if he can cause your hope to win.
It has taken me a year but I can listen to the song again. Instead of turning it down, I crank it up and I sing every word. I believe every promise. I make a joyful noise and while I do think of my son, he is no longer my focus. Instead of sorrow at the memory of that moment, I’m filled with triumph that the Lord stood next to me while I worshipped Him at a time that no mom wants to worship. I’m no longer aware of the sting of death, but reminded of the assurance of the lengths and depths our Savior goes to for all of us. I know the Lord’s faithfulness is not contingent on my faith, regardless of how great or small, and I know that His reckless love never stopped pursuing Hagen and ultimately Hagen is basking in that love while I’m down here putting up with shenanigans and fire balls launched to cause me to lose more ground. All the lies have been sent back to where they came from and I sing. I didn’t do it. He did.
Because the victory is already in place, I am simply walking in faith, standing on faith, clinging to faith and fighting for faith. I may lose ground, but I will get it back and I will take more and more and more.
Whatever you are facing - whatever battle you are fighting - whatever tactic your adversary is using - “Be you and trust Me” and you will sing again.