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The Power of People

A few weeks ago, my dad and his girlfriend came to visit us. I always feel a little stronger when he visits. It has been tough trying to navigate the deepest levels of pain being so far away from my family. I cherish every single visit I get.

We visited the beach on Saturday with them. A young family with two kids ended up sitting right in front of us. Josh and I kept encouraging our girls to ask their kids if they wanted to play together. They love meeting new friends and since the beach is always loaded with families on vacation, they always seem to find kids to play with.

We were all swimming in the ocean with the kids when the little girl came swimming up to me. I asked her if she lived here or if she was on vacation. She looked at me and said, “We live in Washington but my little sister just died so we skipped a lot of school and came here on vacation.”

It felt like all the wind had been knocked out of me. All I could do is stare back at her will tears in my eyes. I was speechless.

My heart instantly broke. I wanted to grab her and hold her. I wanted to run up to her mom, give her the biggest hug and tell her I knew the pain she is trying to navigate. But I could not find the strength. It’s a conversation two mothers should never have to share.

But we knew we couldn’t leave the beach that day without letting them know they are not alone. Thankfully in that moment, Josh was strong when I couldn’t be and he initiated the conversation for us. I remember the mom saying, “I never would have guessed seeing you guys that you were struggling with something like this too.”

You never know the battle someone sitting next to you may be silently fighting.

It was no accident they sat in front of us that day. I wonder what the odds are that two random strangers from opposite sides of the country would be brought together at a beach to share in their grief. That was all God. We were brought together with a bigger purpose than we could even see.

We exchanged numbers and the mom and I still talk. I hate that they know this pain, but I am grateful for the opportunity we were given to get to know them. I am grateful our kids got to play together that day. I am grateful they got to share laughs and forget about their own pain for a few hours. I am grateful for the silent exchange between our kids knowing what each other is going through and knowing that somehow, it will be okay.

Meeting them was a sign that I desperately needed. Lately, I have felt God go quiet. I have been frustrated in my grief and felt like I was stuck in quicksand, trying so hard to hold on and not get sucked back down into darkness. I felt like all the progress I have made over this last year had been wiped away. I felt myself growing angry again, not wanting to get out of bed, not wanting to face another day without Ellie. I found myself not wanting to go to church, which was grown to be my safe place. I didn’t want to go and force a smile while on the inside I felt like I was struggling with the desire to continue to live.

Sometimes God moves in you through words from leaders of a church. Sometimes He moves in you through bible studies, guiding you exactly where you need to be reading in scripture. Sometimes it is in devotions or quiet time alone with Him. But oftentimes, He uses people, random people, to remind you of His power. To remind you that He is in control. To remind you that there is a bigger purpose to your pain.

Sometimes, we need that reminder.

We spend a lot of time trying to play perfect beings rather than crying out to God in the midst of our struggles. We waste a lot of energy holding up walls to not let people in, to not let God in, thinking we need to have it all together beforehand. God did not create us to be perfect, and the pressure we feel to live perfect lives does not come from Him. That voice tricks us into thinking we must be pulled together before we call out to Him. We try to hide our imperfections but the reality is, God knows us better than we know ourselves.

He died for us while we were imperfect.

He already knows.

You want to know God on an intimate level? Then it is time we get ugly and honest with Him. We do not have to dress up our ugly problems and disguise them as pretty problems. God is not afraid of the ugly. Your mess matters to Him. Bring Him your mess. Every broken piece.

Brokenness ushers in humility which enables us to surrender to Him. As we draw near to Him during our pain, we get to experience God the way He desires to be experienced by us. Intimately, truthfully, wholeheartedly.


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