It is incomprehensible to me that it is now seven years since we said goodbye to Leah. During these seven years, my sense of grief and loss has evolved, but has never gone away and I certainly don’t expect it to.
The first few years after Leah died the pain of grieving was immense and very intense. It was frequently overwhelming. At times, when the painful feelings of grief and loss were acute, I wondered how it was possible to keep on living – or even just to continue breathing.
With time, my sense of grief and loss has mellowed somewhat. Most days I can live with the sadness without feeling overwhelmed by it. However, there are occasions when something (usually unexpected) rips open the wound of grief and once again I feel totally overwhelmed. A few weeks ago I was attempting to do some paperwork during my working day, when without thinking I clicked on a link to a song in a group chat on my phone. Immediately one of Leah’s favourite songs began to play. I was completely undone. No matter how hard I tried I could not regain my composure. I did not want to cause distress to anyone who might enter the room that I was in so I went outside for a walk. Fortunately, it was raining heavily so my tears were disguised and I just kept on walking until I felt calm enough to return to my duties. Thankfully, episodes like that are now infrequent. Most of the time I can live with the sadness of Leah’s absence without feeling overwhelmed with emotion.
Recently I opened an old Bible that I no longer use. In it, I discovered two little bookmarks from Leah that I had forgotten about. One of these she had made for me when she was younger:
The other one she had brought me back from camp when she was about 10 years old.
These bookmarks made me smile as I reflected on how Leah had invested in my life and also into the lives of others.
It made me wonder how I’m investing in other people’s lives? What will they remember from my encounters with them? Will they feel encouraged and blessed – or not?
2020 was a very challenging year for most people in so many ways. We continue to face significant restrictions in our daily lives due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s so easy for us to become negative and disheartened. However, negativity and “glass half empty” thinking doesn’t help anyone – neither the speaker nor the hearer.
I recently read a quote from Tracie Miles book Unsinkable Faith:
“It is usually our thoughts, not our circumstances, that cause us to sink. This is such an important truth to tuck into our minds. Mark it down: What we think becomes who we are.”
This is so true. How we think and what we focus on are so important. At the start of the first lockdown, I signed up for a free online prayer course created by 24-7 Prayer. It was run over 8 sessions and I found it very helpful. Handouts to expand on the material within the course were made available. One of the handouts that I found especially helpful was the one on “Breath Prayer”. I now find this a really helpful way to refocus my thoughts during the day. I subsequently discovered this website which gives some really good suggestions for breath prayers:
One of the breath prayers that I find especially helful at present is based on Exodus 33:14 :
“My Presence shall go with you and I will give you rest.”
I find it so helpful to remind myself that no matter what happens in life, that God has promised to be with me and that He gives me rest in my soul.