I don’t know if I will post this. I don’t even know HOW to express what is in my heart. I don’t want it to be misconstrued, but I want to try to ‘let it out’ because I find that writing helps me to work though my thoughts.
This is a strange journey, and it is not a simple one. There are no pat answers or easy ‘fix-it’ solutions.
There has only been one time in this entire journey that I have truly ‘lost it’. It was when we found Jenna in the pool and a series of anguished screams escaped my lips, without me even thinking. I remember the crazy rush to the hospital (which was only a block away, thank God) and me pacing outside the waiting room alone after I dropped Jenna off in the ER. My family was parking the car outside at the time, I presume. I remember staring unseeingly into the window of the hospital gift store, and telling Jesus: “Whatever happens, I will praise you.”
There was such an incredible peace that enveloped me, and I was aware as we all huddled later, praying in a ‘family room’ and waiting for news of Jenna, that I was the one that was holding my family together. It was not me, I realised though, but it was the peace and grace of God that was so overwhelmingly strong in me. He truly carried me. The christian grief counsellor that the hospital had called expressed amazement to my sister that in all my praying I had not once attempted to bargain with God. He was a wonderful blessing to my family when the doctors gave up hope and I was called to go and hold my little girl. I was in a strange place though, it was just me and God, and the ministry I received was from the Lord and not from a man.
Since that day I have had a series of instances where I have had to give Jenna to Jesus afresh. I had to release her to him at her funeral, as the little coffin was lowered into the ground. Once again there was such a merciful peace that surrounded me. I have had many times when I would tell Jesus in my prayers: “She is yours, Jesus.” I have tried to rejoice in the fact that she is so gloriously happy there with him, and I have found much comfort in knowing the character of my God as I walk this journey. I would have been a mess if I didn’t know his faithfulness, mercy, his kindness, and his generosity like I do. I can trust him because I know just how good he is.
Since that day too, there has been very sincere, precious and well-meaning friends who have tried to encourage me to do what I think I am already doing (or am I missing something?) and give Jenna to Jesus. These people believe that if I simply surrender Jenna to Jesus fully everything will be fine and I will find complete healing. Perhaps they are right! I am trying, Jesus.
I do think they are missing something though, and Lord, if I am the one that is missing it, please show me. I just think that it is not that simple.
I can release Jenna to Jesus until I am blue in the face but that does not fill the gap she has left. There is a void in my heart every time I lie down in my bed and there is no girly-girl to read a story to, every time I wake up and there is no sleeping muffin stretched out inches from my face. Every shopping cart that doesn’t contain her toddler frame, every pink dress that I have no reason to buy anymore.
When people try to convince me to give Jenna to Jesus and simply move on I have such an inner struggle with it. First of all, I think I am already doing that as much as I can (I hope). Secondly, these people do not realise it, but they are not giving me permission to grieve. This is a great loss, folks. It is going to take time to deal with every aspect of it.
When the Israelites took possession of the promised land, God said he would drive out the inhabitants before them little by little, lest he drove them all out and the beasts took over the land before the Israelites could. I am going to need to take this territory step by step, in order to really possess it.
I am NOT building a shrine to Jenna simply because I am not ready to sell this house with its scribbled walls and the Jenna footprint on my painted concrete floor. There are memories of Jenna everywhere here. Yet the day will come, and I know it, when I will be ready to move away from this place. And like he has done before, Jesus will have prepared my heart for that moment.
I am not getting bogged down in my grief and losing my direction in God. At least I don’t think so. But I miss Jenna, and want to talk about her, and reminisce about her. I want to sing her a happy birthday song on the 27th of July. I want to honor her memory. I can’t simply cut her off from my heart as if she were never there. She is my girly girl, always will be.
There is this great paradox with me right now. On the one hand I don’t want people to look at me simply through the lense of my grief. My grief does not define me, though it is a big part of me right now. It is not all there is to me by a loooooong shot. On the other hand, I want to be allowed to grieve, I want others to acknowledge my loss and I want to feel free to talk about Jenna and to celebrate the gift she was to us.
As I wrote in my journal this morning I thought about the words ‘give’ and ‘grieve’. I think it should be possible to do both. Giving Jenna to Jesus doesn’t cancel out the grief, but walking closely to Jesus makes it that much easier to handle.