A Band-Aid for Grief

It's been over nine months now, and quite frankly, I'm tired of grieving and hurting. It's tempting to try to hide from the pain by filling my time with other things, mind-numbing things, anything to take my mind off of my loss. There are so many ways a person can avoid dealing with their heartache, but sooner or later, it all comes tumbling back again. You can't hide forever.

For example, my sister and her family live about ten hours from me and came for a visit. My days were full. We talked about Curt sometimes, of course, which brought tears but laughter too when we remembered his great sense of humor. However, most of our time together was filled with playing with our grandchildren, feasting, activity, fellowshipping together, and catching up on everyone's life. By the time I dropped into bed at the end of the day and listened briefly to an audiobook, I soon enjoyed the oblivion of sleep.

All too quickly, it was time to say goodbye. I braced myself for it hours before they left. I knew what would follow. It's what happens every time I have to say goodbye to my family now that Curt is gone. After waving and blowing kisses, I entered my home, shut the door, and a tsunami of grief crashed over me. The empty feeling when family leaves now blends with the loss of my husband, and the pain is overwhelming.

It's tempting to run and hide in a captivating book, a movie, or call my kids and focus on their lives, anything to occupy my mind so that I don't think about loneliness, emptiness, sickness, death, or memories of what can never be again. There is nothing wrong with doing any of the activities I mentioned, except that they are just a Band-aid on a deep, gaping wound. Insufficient.

After my sister left, I put on my sneakers, clicked the leash on my dog's collar, and went for a long walk. I cried and told God how much I miss Curt, but my heart stayed heavy. Then I remembered what had helped me through this before. Nine months into the grief journey has taught me some things. I've felt this desperate longing countless times since September 25th, and I knew what I needed to do. It was like the Lord was whispering, "Come, spend time with Me. Place your trust in Me again. Praise Me and thank Me for what I'm doing in your life. I still have things I want you to accomplish. I'm preparing you. I'm already using you. Trust Me. Don't stay stuck in your loss, but look a little higher and see that I have everything you need. Don't avoid Me. I am the only One who can truly help you and heal your heart."

It's been a vicious cycle since I lost Curt. I want to hide from my pain, but then God helps me see that I need Him. So, I steer back to the path I've driven on over and over again. This path takes me to where I submit and trust Jesus. And there, I find peace and hope, and the heaviness in my heart lifts. But just like the disciples couldn't stay on the Mount of Transfiguration no matter how wonderful it was (Matthew 17), I too must continuously re-engage with my life and responsibilities. So, coming to Jesus once is never enough. Life happens, and I get distracted and busy, so I have to keep returning to that path with the ruts in the road from my frequent travel to that spot reserved for Jesus and me.

Curt told me the story of how his dad learned to drive a team of horses when he was a young boy. Curt's grandfather told his son to steer the horses so the wagon wheels will roll in the ruts in the dirt road that led to their home. Once the wheels were in the ruts, the horses would pretty much steer themselves. I found this short poem Curt wrote about the story he heard long ago.

He was young
He was eager
Given the reins
Told it wouldn't be hard
to drive the team
down the wagon trail.
Get the wheels in the ruts, son.
It will pretty much steer itself.
Pretty reassuring,
Life in the ruts.

~ Curt Dalaba ©2018

Making it a habit to run to Jesus and tell Him that I trust Him has created ruts in the road of my grief journey. Now that my grief is no longer constant but comes in unsuspecting and violent waves, I find the ruts are helping me steer more quickly to the place I find relief. When I follow those ruts my faith in God has created, I get much more than a Band-aid from Him. He places His hand on me again, and I am whole even though half of me is gone. He fills the half that's missing. God makes me complete again.

"Without faith, it is impossible to please Him." (Hebrews 11:6)

It's not like there is a faith meter or something. We will not be measured by how much faith we have like it's win or lose. No, God shows us what He expects, and what He expects cannot be accomplished in the energy of the flesh; it is a fruit of the Spirit. The only way this is accessed is through faith. Without faith you cannot see what is available, grab what is available, and use what is available. The eyes of faith broaden the horizons of my perspective. What we do to please God can only be accomplished through faith—and that's why without it you cannot.

~ Curt Dalaba (journal entry)

I want to please God in how I process my grief. Sometimes I fail in this. I thank God for His mercy and grace. He forgives me and helps me return to the ruts in the road that lead me to where I find true comfort. It's only in trusting God.

I think the reason I only find peace when I'm trusting God is that by doing so, I'm letting go of my will and submitting to His plan for my life. Too often, I want to tell God how He should do things, and then I want to see Him answer that prayer. But Jesus taught us to pray, "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:10 NIV) Interestingly enough, almost two years ago, I felt impressed to pray those words every morning during my prayer time. Was God preparing me for the bitter pain of losing my husband? Was He preparing me to submit to His plan for my life? My guess would be, yes, He was. 

I wanted God to heal Curt. Everything within me longed for that. I prayed God would not allow cancer to take my husband from me. But after reading Acts 3:16 NIV this week, I wonder if the person God wants to heal is me. “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.” I believe that my faith in Jesus will make me strong and heal my broken heart because He has given me a new perspective that this earth is a place of preparation for eternity. So, I want God's will for my life. He's preparing me for all that is yet to come.

"Aim at heaven, and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth, and you get neither."

C.S. Lewis

Lord, help me to surrender my will to You. Help me to accept Your will for my life and allow you to heal my heart. Let Your Kingdom come, and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

By

Anneliese Dalaba

January 19, 2022