Wednesday, September 4, 2013


It's been ages since I blogged, obviously. I've been avoiding it, not wanting to deal with a multitude of negative feelings and crummy attitudes. It's been a good year in many ways, and God is always faithful. But there has been so much grief that I just could not write about for fear it would just overtake me.

When the people you love suffer terrible loss, and when you yourself are one of those people who have high empathy, it can be devastating. Last year when my Uncle Dane died I grieved terribly for the loss of him in my life, but even more so for what I knew the loss was like for my Aunt Candy and my cousins. As my cousin Ross said at the funeral, "What are you doing, God?!"  It was such a shocking, sudden loss and my heart was flooded with grief.

When my sister's marriage ended my heart was broken for her, for the loss of all that could have been, for the life & marriage that was taken from her, the grief that was left behind and for the two small children in the middle of it all. None of us ever saw this coming and my heart aches for my little sister.

This year my mentor and dear friend went through her own shocking and sudden loss when her daughter was killed in a car accident. I cried constantly for weeks, unable to comprehend the death of a 24 year old woman with so much life ahead of her. I thought of the stupid things I was doing in my early 20s, and wondered why God had spared me and not her, she who was so good and sweet and doing all the right things. My cup overflowed with grief, my heart was shattered for those I loved and what they were going through. I sat in my grief for them, wishing I could sit with them, feed them, do something, anything that would give action to my grief. I went to the memorial service with hundreds of other people, clenching my husband's hand and waiting in line for an hour so I could hold my friend for just a moment as she sobbed. I sent a salad for the funeral luncheon and tried not to cry into it. I left muffins by their door. I prayed without ceasing, something I had never quite understood before.

For my own selfish part, I lost the counsel and friendship of someone I love very much. I needed someone to give me wisdom on how to walk this road, but the very person I needed was the one suffering herself. I should have seen sooner what God was doing and how He was using this. He used it in that most exasperating way, where He uses pain to teach us to rely on Him fully, and to grow patience and resilience in my heart. I fought Him and railed against Him and sobbed at His feet. How could He let this happen to them? How could He leave me so full of grief for others that I could not get through one day without crying?

I spent time with Him daily somewhat out of spite, asking Him to FIX THIS because I did not know how. I saw my friend from the distance which she now held me at, and I asked Jesus to come back now and take this cup from us all. I watched my sister from hundreds of miles away as she packed up her things and moved into an apartment. I thought of my uncle and how much He loved Jesus and how his family must go on without him. I yelled at God repeatedly. When my tantrums were done, I found new peace in Him. He waited until I got over myself, and showed me how closely He had drawn me to Him in the past year. I know He holds my friend in His hands. She always told me to remember what I know is true and all of His promises. I'm holding on to that as a lifeline; I know she's right. I don't know where God is taking her. I don't know what this is like for her beyond unimaginable pain. I know that none of us can go with her on this journey, but I trust that our Jesus is walking it with her. Because in the end it isn't about me. It's not about her. It's about Jesus. This is the comfort to which I have to cling, even if I do so at times with angry or bitter hands. I am finding peace, day by day, and I know that only comes from Him. God is good.


Jeff and Meg said...

((hugs)) I know God uses hard things to teach us but there are times when I wish I could stop learning for a while. :)

William Smith said...

Shay, thank you for this. It must be overwhelming! I knew two of the three reasons for grief here in your life but didn't know about your sister. As you said, may God be their source of strength and comfort in the midst of their grief. It's a great reminder for me to pray for them and for you.

I know what you are saying about empathy. We had a non-profit ministry representative that I grew to love. Our church had him speak on occasion. We utilized his ministry materials. I had conversations with him that I felt were meaningful.

He was on a trip with his family when a 15 year old boy thought it would be a good idea to drop a chunk of ice off an overpass. It smashed through their minivan and severely injured his wife (in front of him and their children -- who were exact in number and ages to my own children at the time). She died of her injuries.

I wanted to help. I prayed -- a lot. I went to the service which was some distance from where I live. I even contacted Focus on the Family which sent them free of charge a family grief package in my name.

It was also painful not to hear from him. No thanks for the package. I know it was selfish to wish for that. Obviously, they were overwhelmed in every sense of the word. But, I guess, like in your case, you just wanted to know that your reaching out to them meant something; that it made some kind of difference even for a moment.

Empathy is really hard. I wonder how people can live without it since mine is so obvious in times like these! It's a gift and a curse. May we use it to God's glory.

Thanks again, Shay

KateO said...

hugs shay. I'm glad you're feeling some peace day by day.

William Smith said...


This is a great post. I wrote a lengthy reply but my connection somehow lost it. If it shows up, feel free to delete this one.

Thanks for your honesty and empathy. Empathy is a blessing and a curse. I feel with you! I too get emotionally invested in others' pain.

Love to you and yours

meghansde said...

I can completely relate to the feelings you express here. In time, God may fully reveal what it is He is doing in and through you, but what a hard thing it is to do to wait for it. Praying for you in this.