A Guest Post by Susan Richards
She died in my arms.
And there I sat. Pain so deep in my soul I thought I had died 1,000 painful deaths myself.
Nine years ago my first born child, Reagan Myriam, slipped into heaven’s arms and there was nothing I could do to bring her back. NOTHING. She was pronounced dead at a full term birth. Unexpectedly.
What was to be one of the happiest days turned to be my saddest. There are no words to explain the depth of pain a soul feels when a loved relationship has ended on this side of heaven. I sat on that hospital bed after an excruciating delivery and the Holy Spirit of God impressed on my heart with deafening words, “Susan, there is no way around this pain. There is only through it. I love you. You can choose to walk with me guiding you or with out me. Either way, I LOVE YOU. But if you choose me, your heart will heal and I will do great and mighty things of which your eyes will see.”
Who was that?
Did I really just hear the impression of the living God of whom I’d ignored for the last decade!? Is he talking to ME, oh wretched sinner that I am?!
Holding the shell of my child in my arms I wrestled in that heartbeat of a moment with that choice. I faced reality as I embraced a soul who breathes one moment and the next becomes flesh alone. She was gone. In one breath. I was holding ashes.
Yet I was left.
“And the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7
God gave me a choice? Oh! My soul leaps at such sweet love that a “choice” brings! I am loved!
Would I choose anger?
Avoidance? Yes, avoidance! It would be so much easier to avoid the pain! I’ve done that one before and it is easy. I can do that!
would I choose to trust that still small voice, of whom I barely knew, that whispered… “LOVE”? In that moment, that defining moment, I did not rush over or skim past my pain but with my little ‘ol lost, lonely and pain filled self, I chose to TRUST. Reagan was gone and I had not the power to breath life into her lungs nor did I have the power to remove it.
“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16
My focus shifted to ….WHO!? Who are you God? All it took was a breath, or one that no longer existed, for my heart to shift. Oh! how foolish of me to grip to the notion that I was in control of my life! I have seen the favor of the Lord that only those in pain can fully see. He IS indeed close to the brokenhearted!
“In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.” Psalm 25:1”
The next few months were a commitment to TRUST. The emotions would come and go but the TRUST had to remain. I dug deep into the character of God. I sat alone, humbled for hours a day with my Bible and heart wide open. I prayed real. I prayed so real. This commitment to trust would rattle our seemingly in-control walls we lived in. I listened to all the Spirit had to offer. And I sat before my Maker remembering that “naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I will return to the earth”. The scripture planted in my heart decades before resurfaced as quick as sparks ignite while striking flint.
“for the Holy Spirit…will teach you all things, and remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26
I had a job ahead of me and it was called “grieving.” I had to sit in the pain and let
the Lord work. Oh how miserable! Or so I once thought, then this…
“Before a word is on your tongue I know it completely. I know when you will sit and when you will rise. I discern your thoughts from afar.” Psalm 139:4-5
I had never walked through grieving before Reagan died so this was uncharted waters. Uncomfortable. I have had my share of personal challenges from divorced parents to other life struggles, but soon I came to realize that I had never grieved anything well. But in my new raw, vulnerable weakness HE became strong in me and I saw the light of a new way. I saw Jehova Jirah lead me to still waters that restored my soul.
Just as the mist of the morning fog lifts in seconds…minutes…so does the time pass between seeing Reagan again. I would not trade time on this earth with her for an eternity in heaven with her, knowing that her story, our commitment to faith would stir in the souls of many others to also ask, “WHO ARE YOU GOD?”
“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed my with joy.” Psalm 30:11
In nine years since losing Reagan and making the choice to let the Lord heal my heart and use my life for his glory I have never encountered grieving again. The memories and intensity fade. The pain goes away. Time most certainly heals wounds when embraced with the presence of a loving God. And as my heart grows farther from this grieving experience I questioned, just two short weeks ago, if I would grieve as well the next time I face…death. I thought,
“Lord, I am afraid. I grieved Reagan so well with you at my side will I ever be able to heal from such deep pain again. It hurts so very, very bad. And I am scared.”
And then my sweet friend, Maria, asked me to write a piece for her blog to commemorate Reagan. She asked me on that very same day I spoke those words to God. Then, one day after I said “yes” I would unexpectedly walk an intense 9 days with a dear friend through the untimely death of her sweet husband. My deadline to finish this post was mere days after he passed.
Now here I am to make peace with my Maker, all over again, with death. And here I sit. Grieving. Not ignoring the pain, avoiding or rushing past it but trusting, yet again, in the faithfulness of God’s presence to heal the deepest wounds that the suffering will carry.
Will I trust again? The question I asked myself just two short weeks ago before death knocked again?
The answer: yes. Yes, I will because I have seen the faithfulness of the Lord to the broken hearted who humbly turn to him and beg for his help. And this time, the grieving is easier because I already know the character of the Lord, his perfect timing and intimate provisions.
Are you willing to say yes? Are you strong enough to be weak? Are you brave enough to expose all the hidden places of your heart to the one who already knows them? With each “yes” we embrace the pain a little lighter as the Maker of the moon carries our wounds.
“Faith does not eliminate questions but faith knows where to take them.” –Elizabeth Elliot
Do you have faith enough to trust to take your question to God?