I wore Jesus like a favorite sweater—worn out, broken in, and comfy. Growing up in a Christian home, I trusted Jesus as my Savior as a youth. Being raised in church all my life made it easy to have a comfortable, old faith, but I liked it that way. My doting parents provided a relaxed, safe environment and I cherished my innocence and youth. No one ever challenged my faith in a life-altering way.
Until years later, as a mom of six, when I received an earth-shattering phone call. A terrible tragedy occurred and my life would never be the same. My phone rang and I dug it out of my purse as I waited in line at the outlet store. We had plans that evening but detoured by the mall. My dad’s name flashed across the screen and I stuffed the phone back in my purse. I bet he finally had time to return my phone call. Again it rang. Dad. And another. This time he sent a text and as the words registered, I froze. My heart stopped beating and I struggled to breathe.
Mom had a heart attack.
With shaking hands, I fumbled with my phone to call him. My purse fell over, spilling the contents across the checkout counter. “Dad! What is going on?”
His choked reply confirmed my worst nightmares. It was no joke. In a strangled voice, he managed to tell me rescue came but it didn’t help. Through my shock, I assured him everything would be fine. We raced home, grabbed some clothes and fell in the truck toward their home in the mountains.
Never in a million years did I doubt her viability. After all, my steady life proved God cared about my family, right? I believed in the Lord who heals. We have a family history of heart disease but I had faith in the first responders and doctors to intervene on my mom’s behalf to restore her health. We spoke on the phone several times that day and she seemed cheery enough, no hint of health scares.
But everything wasn’t fine. Before we left, my phone rang once more. My dad gave me the worst news of my life.
She didn’t make it.
Losing a Parent
My heart shattered into a million pieces. Death stole my best friend, my cheerleader, my mom. I never said goodbye; I never even received a warning.
My first experience with the death of a parent taught me many things.
Death stinks. Literally.
The options for caskets and urns are slim to none.
The funeral home requests her best outfit and you’re the one left crying in the closet wondering what to choose.
The days following are filled with fog and confusion. You hope this was all an awful dream and you’ll wake up. Visitors flood through the front door bearing sympathy cards and casseroles while you put on a brave face for everyone. Nothing is the same again.
In retrospect, God the twins’ surprise pregnancy and birth and turned it into my saving grace.
He gave us two babies, both nursing, both completely dependent on me and during those tearstained days, they only wanted me. Their sweet baby scent mingled with hot, bittersweet tears. These gifts will grow up knowing one less grandparent, feeling one less pair of arms around them. I mourned the opportunities lost, too.
The next several months looked like puffy eyes, streaked cheeks, and a messy bun. My shallow, untested faith allowed me to believe God didn’t love me or he would’ve saved her.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18
Time passed, and I felt the hundreds of prayers from friends and family lifting me up, breathing life into me. Out of the deep, dark pit of despair, God set my feet on solid ground and gave me reasons to live. My faith, which had been so comfortable was suddenly uncomfortable and painful.
Late at night, when the house slept, I crept out to the living room, flicked on the lamp, and curled up on the couch with my Bible in my lap, soaking up God’s words. I found comfort knowing God saved my tears in a bottle to one day wipe away. My Bible crinkled with tear-stained pages as I read verse after verse of God’s promises never to leave me or forsake me. I was brokenhearted, drowning in pain and despair, my heart and flesh failing, but He never left me. He comforted me with a peaceful yet passionate love and I knew His heart was broken with me.
A Healing Hope
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him.” Romans 15:13
I was shaken, my faith tested beyond belief, but rather than running, I clung to God, crying out to Him. Every hour of my darkest days, He gave me a perfect peace, comfort, and a ton of love. He transformed my heart, deepened my faith and drew me nearer to Him.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2
We never know what or who God will use to draw us nearer to Him and while I still miss my mom every single day, I have this promise that I’ll be reunited with her one day in Heaven because she had a personal relationship with Jesus and so do I. I know this world is not my home and I’m grateful for my new, uncomfortable, unshakeable faith where God calls me to do things out of my comfort zone to point people to Him. If you’ve never had a relationship with Jesus before, it’s my heart’s longing, dear friend, that you do. Fall into His grace. Surrender yourself to Him. Walk in a peace and freedom nothing else in this world can provide. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s God who is always faithful, always there, and loves me beyond measure. This same God loves you to pieces so trust Him today with your life, your future, and your calling.
Scripture References: Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:9; Psalm 34:18, 147:3, 130:1, 121:1, 40:2, 73:26; 2 Corinthians 4:8