Saturday, September 18, 2021

Comforts

 

photo from FaceBook

A Christian ministry sent me a note of condolence this week. This one sentence hit the nail squarely on the head and blessed me so much that I've pulled the letter out every day this week to re-read it:

"Even though you know your loved one is with the Lord, that does not lessen the pain."

The loss of Beloved's presence here in the house is getting a little easier but I'm not over it. I look at rooms and furniture where memories bombard me of where he liked to sit, what he liked to talk about, routines we had, our shared jokes, how he would reach out to me.....

Remaining in our house is both the biggest comfort and at times the most hurtful heartache. In the early months I wanted so much to escape this place due to the pain, but family urged me to not rush into it and as time has passed, I see the wisdom in that. No matter where I go, the grief is with me and I have to face it head-on so it can get better.

Time spent alone in God's Word is my biggest and most dependable comfort as I wade through these days (nearly 10 months now) of grief over the loss of my husband. There is genuine power in Holy Scripture that reaches into the deepest part of me to calm, rest, and counsel my injured soul.


When I was a very little girl, I watched my father use a red pencil to underline words and verses in his Bible. As I grew older I picked up on that habit and now it's an essential aspect of my study times. 

Since the death of Beloved, I have wanted to be reminded even more of God's character. I began using a purple pencil to underline and hi-lite words, phrases, verses that describe God, Who He is, what He does, how He relates to people. I did this so that when in the depths of a grief-stricken time, I can just pick up my Bible and let my eyes fall on those purple markings, reminding me of God's love and care for me. 

This is especially easy to do in the book of Psalms, but I carry out this habit when reading scripture in any book of the Bible. Sometimes grief can feel so suffocating that concentration on true study is impossible. Letting my eyes fall onto the purple pencil markings is like road signs directing my attention to where I need it most at that moment.

a page from Charles Stanley's 
God's Purpose for Your Life, 365 Devotions

Another habit I've picked up over the past ten months has been to mark up the pages of books I read (books I own, you understand 😉) with a special color code that is meaningful to me. 

I started out with the red pencil for anything I wanted to emphasize. But then I added the purple for what relates to God's character and activity. Blue is used to denote sin, or negative behaviors, things to be avoided. And green is used to indicate what my response should be. Many of my books now have these colored markings and because I maintain this same code of colors consistently, it's easy to review salient points.

Small scribble-type drawings are occasionally added for various reasons, along with a lot of arrows and notes written in the margins and dates when those pages were read. 

These methods have helped me greatly as I study and later go back to review the most important points I wanted to remember. 

Another habit that has been strengthened now that I have more time on my hands, home alone, is to watch sermons on Youtube. I have my favorites. While watching them, I bring up an application on my computer where I can type in notes while watching the sermon, often pausing the speaker so I can get it all down, and then continuing on. It is time well-spent. 

I've said before that my hobby of cross stitch just dissolved and has not come back since this sadness came into my life. The concentration required to count the stitches just wasn't there. As I said earlier, sometimes focusing on study has been lacking, too, with "brain fog", as they call it in GriefShare. 

Coloring books have been a great help me to me during those times. My favorite is the one Sue sent to me while Beloved was still in ICU. It is the Psalms with many illustrations to color in. I like to turn on a sermon or music and just color like a kid with abandon, feeling the tension slip away.

Yes, I do get out of the house to have coffee and meals with friends, to attend book club and Bible study, to attend and serve at church, to walk, and of course to grocery shop and pull weeds. These activities help me to get through the days, too, and I am thankful to be able to enjoy them. 

O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.

Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising

thou understandest my thought afar off...

If I ascend up into heaven, 

thou art there

If I make my bed in hell, 

behold, thou are there...

... thy hand [shall] lead me,

and thy right hand shall hold me...

How precious also are thy thoughts unto me,

O God! how great is the sum of them!

(phrases from Psalm 139)


Thanks for stopping by. Until next time, grace and peace to you. 


13 comments:

  1. I really appreciate that phrase from the card. I think people sometimes feel it's wrong to grieve because their loved one is with the Lord. This lets them know that it's understandable.
    I like your method of underlining in your Bible.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This was a beautiful and heart felt post. I love how God is leading you into your Bible study time as well as in other aspects of your reading and leaning on Jesus in every part of your life as you know it now. And I love the quote from Psalm 139 probably most of all. Yes, "How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them!" I've always loved that portion of scripture...it has sustained me in difficult times as well. Thank you for sharing these thoughts with us today. God is doing a beautiful work in you, and most of all, He is helping you to help others in the process. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a great phase, I'm going to share that with Gerri. I love how you use the different colored pencils. I mainly use a yellow highlighter but I like your method too. I enjoy so much your sharing your journey of grief with us. It has been such a blessing to me. Hugs to you!

    ReplyDelete
  4. It is like being in an ocean on a rowboat with no oars…you do not get over it…you do get through it…since I am careful to isolate except now see immediate family thank goodness…I do coloring books, puzzle books, read a book daily…I am a fast reader…continue to work with grands in person or on FaceTime…Bible… much much prayer…my friends across the country use snail mail, cards, texts, email, and calls… none of us socialize or go in restaurants etc…I have five friends who have never met and I call them my fabulous five…we have a text prayer chain…they all know me…it works…prayers to you…I also write a column for a small paper…Have for 20 plus years…take care…

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you for sharing your heart with us here. I always learn from you, Barb. Our grieving will continue. I don't wish Joe out of Heaven but I surely do miss him, as I know you do Tom. That phrase from the card you received is right on. I love you, dear friend. Have a blessed Sunday! xo

    ReplyDelete
  6. That one sentence that was included on that card says it all, Barbara. I'm so glad you have taken so much comfort from it, and that your color-code system works to help keep you focused on how God is speaking to your heart. One day, you will be able to look back and note just how far He has carried you through this time of grief and loss.
    May you have a blessed Sunday and a blessed week, my friend!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Barb, what a spot on line from the letter you received. Thank you for sharing it as well as your marking system for your Bible and readings. Wishing you a blessed day and coming week.

    ReplyDelete
  8. That sentence is so true. Even though we know our loved ones are with Jesus the pain of separation is so real. I chuckled when I saw that illustration you shared at the top. There have been so many times these days when all I can say is Lord Jesus, HELP! Continued prayers for you dear Barbara.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Praying for you, you've been on my heart. Oh...that 'Dear Jesus...' photo. I can sure relate to that sister. Grief is a zig-zag line up and down ascending gently...

    It must be very, very difficult Barbara but hang on to the Lord, (That is what my mother was told by a precious fellow black sister, also a widow) as you are already doing. What a wonderful memory of your father underlining his Bible. I still grieve many of my loved ones and in your position I can't imagine.

    xo Amelia

    ReplyDelete
  10. In time, you may get back to your cross stitch. Coloring is also very good for the soul. Enjoy your day, hugs, Edna B.

    ReplyDelete
  11. That graphic at the top of your post is pretty perfect. I so appreciate you explaining how you highlight your Bible and other books. I recently put some Bible-marking pencils in my Amazon cart for this very purpose, but backed out before buying them - not sure I have the follow-through. Seeing your personal system makes me want to consider again doing this, though. Bless you, Barbara. I pray He shows you how He's cradling your heart.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Beautiful words. I don't have anything major going on like you but in this day and age I find the only true comfort is from the Word and prayer time. He will guide you to hobbies if He wants you there. You are doing the best thing you can do...dig into Him.

    ReplyDelete
  13. So glad you are finding peace in God's Word, Barbara.

    ReplyDelete