This has been one of those years that I’ve always dreaded. This August marks 15 years of my mom passing. But an even more painful reality is that after this year, I have officially lived half of my life without my mom.
As I write this down and actually put words to the thoughts that ran through my head for years, I’m filled with so much pain. I miss her.
The weight of my mom’s death never seems to go away. But it does change from day to day and year to year. I will never be over grieving the death of my mom. I’m not sure a person can ever move on from losing someone so important.
I desire to keep growing, living, and remembering, but I never want to move on. I will always love my mom. She will always be one of the most influential people in my life.
I will still cry when my mind plays tricks on me and I pull out my phone to call my mom. I will still laugh when I tell the story about my mom trying to ride her bike from home to work (over 50 miles) only to make it a few miles before someone needed to pick her up. She was not a bicyclist by any means. My heart will still be warmed when I realize I’m more like my mom than I ever realized.
The thoughts of what life would be like if she were still here are less frequent than they used to be. Honestly, as I get older I think a whole lot more about how her death has influenced who I am today.
Here are three ways I have been shaped by my mom in the last 15 years.
1. Never stop living.
One thing I’ve learned the most from my mom’s passing is that I can never stop living. I could’ve easily decided that at 15 years old I was done. My life was ripped out from under me.
It wasn’t just losing my mom but it was losing everything that came with her. I had a new place to live, a new family to live with, a new routine…a new life.
The option to just curl up into my pain and misery was so tempting. If I refused to adjust and adapt, then I would have chosen to stop living. I would forever be stuck at fifteen years old. And no one wants that.
It has really been the promise of Jesus making us into a new creation that has spurred my living. Most of the time, when we think new, we think good, fun, better. But during the time of my mom’s passing, new was painful and heartbreaking.
Jesus promises to make us into a new creation that’s beautiful and better. But that doesn’t mean it’s without pain.
Jesus used the passing of my mom for good in my life. He used my most painful experience to change who I was. Instead of that moment being the death of me, in many ways, it became the moment Jesus used to catapult me into who I am today.
You will never see Jesus do that in your life if you decide you’re far better stuck right where you are. We have to keep living and we have to keep letting Jesus turn us into a new creation.
2. Growing is good.
I know this might seem super strange, but for a while I struggled with changing as a person because it seemed like I was no longer the person my mom knew me to be.
One of the things I loved about my mom was how well she knew me. Just by the look on my face or by the posture in my walk, my mom could pin exactly what I was feeling. She knew me really well. I’m sure that’s just a mom thing.
The idea of becoming a person different than the one she knew scared me.
So much life has happened since my mom passed away. This year alone has been a huge year of change for me.
Many milestones are happening this year. I turn 30 this year, which is memorable for me because I got to be part of throwing my mom’s surprise party for her 30th. I graduated from seminary this year. In just a few weeks, my son will be born. And that’s sure to be the beginning of a whole new chapter in my life.
These are all things I wish my mom could be here for. But they’re all markers of growth in my life. Growing and change is a good thing. For as much as I dreaded this year and thought it was going to be filled with pain, God has really shown me his plans were much different. Instead of a year of pain, God has made this into a year of growth.
Even in the growing pains, what God is doing is good.
3. Life doesn’t have to be sad.
I’ve had many people over the years ask me if it would have been harder to lose my mom at an older age. I usually answer with, it doesn’t matter how old I am. Living without my mom is hard. I don’t think any age is an easy age to lose your mom.
But something I do know is that losing someone important doesn’t mean life has to be sad forever. Is loss devastating? Yes. Can it feel like it’s too much to bear? At times. Does it get easier with time? Yes and No. Can life still be good? Absolutely.
What I’ve learned is that there is nothing–absolutely nothing–too big or too devastating to keep God from filling your life with joy. I’ve seen this promise proven true in my life over and over again.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
This isn’t just an encouraging verse to cheer up your friend or to write on a coffee mug as daily motivation. This is a promise to grip onto in your darkest hour. A truth to have seared on your heart when it seems as if God is no where to be found.
This doesn’t mean the pain will disappear or that hardship will never come. But it does mean that God is actively working good in your life, even in the midst of darkness.
Even when you’re enduring the hardest moment of your life, God is with you and his goodness will triumph. That goodness might not look exactly like what you wanted. But you can be confident his goodness is sufficient and filled with love.
It feels like forever since my mom passed away, but even to this day I’m seeing God work out goodness in my life. He has given me countless opportunities to share the work he has done in my life because of my mom’s passing.
Life isn’t filled with sadness because my mom is no longer here. Truly, because of Jesus and the way he has worked and continues to work in my life I have true peace and joy.