The pain, the sorrow, the ache of empty arms and shattered dreams.

Luke was twenty-two. Mark was just seventeen. Matthew was in his thirties when he strung a noose around his neck.
All suicide victims, and all men who had crossed my path. The names have been changed to protect the privacy of their families.
Matthew lived across the street from us for ten years. Newly divorced, he hung himself, leaving behind two precious children, both under the age of ten. Mark was a member of our church.
But Luke…Luke was one of my son’s childhood friends, and although they hadn’t connected since middle school, he was my son’s age, and finishing his senior year of college.
Close friends admitted to being shocked and insisted they hadn’t seen this coming. He’d never shown signs of depression. He was well-liked, made good grades, and his whole glorious life stretched in front of him.
As a youngster, Luke’s parents poured their lives into their boys. I know because I was with them three nights a week for football practice and Saturday games, served alongside his mom in PTAs, saw them out and about town for various school and athletic events.
The pain, the sorrow, the ache of empty arms and shattered dreams.
What would make a father string a rope around his neck and kick a chair out from under him? What would make a teenager stick a gun in his mouth and press the trigger?
After more than a half a century of living, I can vouch that time, while it may not necessarily heal, lessens the pain. As a third-degree burn survivor, yes, the searing pain eventually subsides. And, yes, those intense wounds of betrayal took years to conquer and divorce is a long, lonely road, but now I’m married to my true soulmate.
Why am I sharing this?
To whisper in your ear that …. You’re not alone. The God who created the universe loves you with a forever love, something wide and deep and transcends time and understanding. He’s placed families in your life who love you, people in your path who care about you, and they will walk this road with you. Let them in. Let them help.
Maybe you’re standing on a precipice, one foot dangling in the air, life or death just a step away…and you take that step. What if there is a flash, a single moment of clarity, where you regret your decision? Where you wish your life back?
What if you could catch glimpses of your future? Perhaps you’d see your son or daughter all grown up, holding your grandbaby in their arms? Or you’re huddling over a beautiful wife who is gazing up at you with wonder and love in her eyes as she cradles a newborn to her chest. What if you could see yourself in a new job, enjoying it so much more than the one you lost? What if you could feel the sorrow in the loved ones you’ll leave behind…their lives tattered and torn, a huge gaping hole that only you could fill. Wondering what they could have done, what they could have said, what they could have been…
The pain, the sorrow, the ache of empty arms and shattered dreams.
God has the power to weave a beautiful tapestry out of fragile strands of pain and suffering and sorrow. God can take those dark places, those huge, gaping holes and fill them with hope. He can take the pain and suffering, meld them into something beautiful called joy.
I’ll remember the cute little boy with honey colored curls. The giant of a man, strong and powerful, who adored his kids. The tall, gangly teenager, not quite boy, not quite man, surrounded by a loving family.
But the families left behind…what will they remember?
The pain, the sorrow, the ache of empty arms and shattered dreams.
I pray that these three souls finally found the precious peace they sought and for the God of all creation to wrap His arms of comfort around the loved ones they left behind.

Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. ~Psalm 30:5 NLT

Have you lost your HAPPY?

Wedding Day
Everybody’s happy, right?

“Why should they stay together if they’re not happy?”

This, from my twenty-three year old college graduate after a rash of friends announced that their parents were divorcing after twenty plus years of marriage.

“Happy…” I repeated, letting the word penetrate. 

As if a divorce would bring the “happy” 
back into their lives. 

I shuddered, remembering the trauma and devastation left behind from my divorce. Almost three decades later, the emotional scars still linger.

Obviously, we don’t always have a choice when it comes to divorce. The other person may choose it for us. Just like we don’t have a choice when cancer strikes or when we lose a loved one to suicide. 

But do we have a choice when it comes to being happy?

What do you think? Next week we’ll continue this discussion along with ways to get your HAPPY back.

…weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. 
Psalm 30:5b NIV

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Still wallowing in the past?

I was in my early twenties when my previous marriage failed. 

After living by the rules and being a “good girl” my entire life, I rebelled.
Against marriage. Rules. Men.
Life in general.
I drifted far from God, angry with Him for allowing my marriage to fall apart.
It wasn’t until I met my true soul mate five years later that I realized God hadn’t left me.
I’d abandoned Him.

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;

he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;

as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalms 103:8-12 NIV)

Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t hold grudges?

That He doesn’t list conditions for forgiveness or withhold His love
until we meet certain requirements?

Even before we ask, He’s removed our sins so far away
that we’ll never meet up with them again.

Forgiveness. Amazing Grace.
It’s unconditional. No strings attached.
You haven’t done anything that He can’t or won’t forgive.

He says He will. Isn’t that enough?

I’ve surrendered my past to God. Have you? 
Where are you in your journey?