What are the odds? A mother who shares her experience of hope after losing her 17-year-old son to a drunk driver discovers that National Grief Awareness Day falls on the same day every year as her son’s anniversary of death.
But it’s true.
August 30th is the same day for both. NATIONAL GRIEF AWARENESS DAY – August 30, 2023
In honor of both important events, I am sharing bonus content related to my book, GodPrints, that you won’t find anywhere else.
I hope Heaven Day reminds you of the hope we have in Christ… even in our darkest days.
Christian musician Danny Gokey’s new album came out while I was recovering from emergency abdominal surgery. The words in the song, “He Believes in You”, caught my attention. They speak of how God is holding us at our darkest hour. It made me think of that bleak time in the hospital, but it also made me think of Jacob’s poem. It was a timely reminder that even when it feels like darkness is trying to grip my soul, God is still holding me.
Then I remembered a conversation with the grief counselor a long time ago. I’d been beating myself up for not progressing as fast as I would have liked.
“Jenny, looking back, do you think you’re handling it better than six months ago? A year ago? If so, that’s progress. Sometimes we don’t see it that way in the day-to-day routines of life.”
I’ve thought of that several times since then when I get frustrated with myself. Then, as I tried to work through this episode with the counselor, she pointed out how far I have come regarding how I deal with anxiety and panic attacks. I now recognize them faster, and they are shorter than they were in the past.
The counselor continued, “As you work on this, you will continue to get faster at recognizing what it is and stopping it in its tracks. Perhaps you need to be more gracious with yourself.”
It’s easier for me to be gracious with other people than it is with myself. I’m trying to work on this though, because I know God is helping me to process it better—just like I’ve asked Him to.
A friend of mine was going through a difficult situation in her family around the same time that I was recovering. I told her that honestly, sometimes I wonder, ‘Great, could this happen again?’.
When I face tough situations, I remember how I got through traumatic events before, with God’s help. Sometimes it was minute by minute until I got through that hard time and came out the other side. I have to cling to that.
I told my friend that I think it’s going to be similar for her as well. Hour by hour and day by day, she’ll need to intentionally look for moments in her life where God helped her overcome a difficult situation.
“But He’s brought you out on the other side. Then, hold on to that, my friend. My husband says with white knuckles, sometimes. Saying, ‘Nope, I am holding onto this. This is the truth. I have been through hard times before and God helped me.’”
I remember one time when I was throwing up from the chemo and couldn’t keep anything down. All I could say was the name of Jesus. No long prayers. I didn’t have the energy. But it was enough.”
The name of Jesus was enough.
I would love to say, “God, just take this away. I don’t want to go through this. Fight this battle for me.”
Sometimes He does that.
Other times, I need to stop wallowing in my stinking thinking and emotions and fight back.
Ephesians 6 talks about spiritual warfare. You know, where Paul references the helmet of salvation and all that?
Yes, He will fight for us; but we must also do our part. I must take up the shield of faith. I must engage my faith. I must purposely use the other pieces of armor that God’s already provided for me, too.
Paul ends with, “Then when you’ve done all of that — then stand.”
Then God will come.
He wants to see that I will not say, “Here. Be my genie in the bottle and just take care of this, God.”
There are so many scriptures that say, ‘Be strong. Be courageous.’ Why would He say that unless He knew we were going to need strength and courage?
Caleb and I were talking about this when he visited one time. He reminded me of the verse that says, “If God is with us, who can be against us?”. Then he pointed out, “Why would God include this if it wasn’t important for us to hear?”
I clung to those promises during my recovery and tried to keep them in mind as the anniversary of the accident and Jacob’s death neared..
Then one day, I met who’d lost her young daughter and what she shared with me changed my perspective forever.
She told me that even though the anniversary of their loss was still hard; she chose to shift her thinking. As a believer, she knew where her daughter was. She knew this life is not the end, but only a blip in time in light of the eternity that awaits us.
So she chose to call the anniversary of her child’s death, her daughter’s Heaven Day. What an astounding, yet simple, thought!
Today, I am making a choice. I’m going to change my perspective this year and focus on Jacob’s second birthday. Because August 30th is my son’s Heaven Day.
From Jenny’s private journal entry:
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness [doing what God told you to do], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10
Thank you, Lord, for the fresh perspective on these verses today. Jesus—You knew we would suffer just for doing what’s right in Your eyes—not our own or our society’s.
You knew this would be the ultimate test of our faith when it’s not fair that we’re suffering when we “don’t deserve it”.
Thank You for reminding me that the key to processing it correctly is not where I am or what I’m going through; it’s focusing on Who is with me while I’m here, going through this. You are with me. And You will turn what the devil meant for evil into a means to help me grow. On top of all of that, You’ve given me the promise of heaven too. Thank you, Jesus!