Glenn and I are leaving for a trip tomorrow with friends. It’s to celebrate the 50th birthday of a dear friend. It’s tradition, that we all leave town together when someone in the group turns 50. Someone asked me this morning if I was excited. And I thought, no, I’m not excited. I don’t get excited anymore. I just feel dull, regardless of what’s going on around me. I am excited for all of them and I hope it’s an awesome time. I am grateful for the trip, to a beautiful beach location, and I love being with these folks. But truth be told, I am more worried about being a downer, than I am excited.
Sometimes, I think that happiness and excitement are over for me. But then I hear myself laughing, or giggling at something that was said. So I guess that’s not it, happiness isn’t over. Perhaps, happiness and excitement are no longer prevailing emotions, the foundation and tone of my existence as they once were. I used to be the first to laugh, and the last to stop. I used to get excited about the littlest things. I could laugh at anything and everything, and find joy anywhere. But I am changed. It seems now, sorrow is my corner stone, my foundation, my starting point. I am heart ache wearing a smile. Yes, I am changed.
So far from the social butterfly I once was, it feels like a life time ago…I guess it actually is. My mother-in-law used to tease me and say I should put a revolving door on the front of our house, because of all of the folks coming and going. When the kids were little I used to limit myself to a certain amount of phone time each day, so I wouldn’t spend all day talking on the phone with friends. But now, now it’s all different. Now, I am quiet for long periods of time. I don’t feel like talking much. I only talk on the phone occasionally, and for short periods of time. I carry profound sadness with me everywhere I go, like a backpack. You might not see it at first, but ask me to turn around, or watch me walk away, and you will see it. It’s always there. And tears are always right underneath the surface just waiting to break thru. Yes, the sadness, the missing him, has changed me.
The books say that in time, I will find happiness again. The grief won’t be as heavy and I will wake with a smile and joy in my heart. I don’t know when this will happen, and some days it seems like an impossibility, because I know, I am changed, forever.
Even when I am my “old self” again, I will always be a different person. There will always be a ‘before’ and ‘after’ version of Alisa. Some things may remain as they once were, but there are other things about me that have forever changed. I think it would be impossible to walk thru something like this and not be changed in some ways. It changes your view of God, your view on eternity, your view on priorities, your view on life here as we know it. It changes the way you read scripture and sing worship. It changes the way you pray and talk with God.
I hope that the ‘after’ Alisa will be better for having walked through this valley. I pray Grant’s death is not in vain; on the other side of the valley, I hope that I have a greater love for my Savior, a greater affection for Heaven, and an unwavering trust in God, regardless of circumstances. I pray this strips me of self-reliance, clarifies my vision and helps me to prioritize my life in a God glorifying way. I pray that my faith is stronger, and that I will be able to comfort others who are asked to walk a similar path. I pray I have a greater passion for the things that matter, and that the trivial pursuits of this life will lose there appeal.
But I know there will be other changes as well. Changes I don’t want, changes that are not welcome. Changes, that will need to be changed, brought to my attention by loved ones, changes for worse, not better. Meditating on all of the changes now, and changes to come, in me, in Glenn, in our other children, can be unnerving. It threatens to bring fear and disquiet my soul. But it doesn’t have to be this way. God’s Word can dispel my fears, if I let it.
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
God never changes. He is unchangeable. He is the same yesterday and today, forever. He hasn’t changed, through this suffering. There is such comfort in that. I have no idea what changes are waiting for me as I walk through this valley. I have no idea how many times my life, and the circumstances surrounding it, may change before I die. I have no idea what changes await my precious husband and surviving children, because of our great loss. But I do know, God will never change, His infinite wisdom has not changed, His love for us has not wavered. His desire to be near us, and comfort us, will never change. Christ’s plan for my life, as his follower, is to present me to the Father, holy and blameless and above reproach. Not because I am; I am far from blameless. But because he has earned for me, by His sacrifice, that blameless standing. He has reconciled me to himself and that will never change!
Life here on Earth changes daily, sometimes moment by moment, and sometimes in an instant, and we change with it. But I need not fear those changes, because my God never changes! I can confidently seek refuge in His unchangeable nature and remember He is still on the throne, today, tomorrow, and forever!