Six days after myself, our four children, and many in my husband’s family, stood around my sweet man’s hospital bed to say “goodbye for now”, I wrote my first comments on facebook. I gave no personal thoughts, but a quote. I’ve always loved words! They along with music, speak to me in a way not much else in life can. Here was the passage I posted, “…many of us who are faithful followers of Christ stand at the edge of bad news, learning how to ask God for a comfort that we never wanted to need.” ~ Angela Thomas’ book “Do You Know Who I Am?”
Just a couple of days after being home from the hospital, the Lord had allowed me to pour out my heart in words, to my husband, in preparation to read publicly, as my last farewell to him here on this earth.
But, six days after his passing, I was all “worded” out. It was the day we would invite those who knew and loved him to come say their “goodbye for now” as well. I don’t have an exact number of those who came, but I was blown away by the show of love in the sheer magnitude of people who made their way to the church that night. As I prepared for that evening, just six days after the moment I knew would forever change my life, many feelings and thoughts ran through my mind. I have had many opportunities down through my life to witness people standing to greet those coming to pay their respects. I often wondered at their composure. How were they doing it? Now, it was my turn to be on the receiving end. I can look back now and see a numbness. The children and myself were still in shock. We were still horribly struggling with PTSD from the ICU experience and the sudden trauma of losing Clint. My mind felt “swirly”. I worried for the children. Our youngest two had never known a personal loss until our dog of 12 years passed away that spring of 2017. How would they handle seeing their daddy?
What got us through it? Well, the Lord! He used a letter Clint had written to me 7 years earlier, on Dec 21, 2010. Here’s are his words to me, “Shelly, I know you’ve had a rough couple weeks. Hang in there 🙂 What satan is trying to use for your destruction, God WILL use to increase your character and give you hope 🙂 You’re an AMAZING mom and daughter, not to mention wife! The Lord has something to teach us…love bears all things and endures all…I love you 🙂 But more important so does the Lord :-). Love, Clint”
Not many know that I copied that letter and kept it with me at all times for probably 3 weeks. I would take it out and read it often personally and to our children! I trusted Clint more than any other person I’ve ever known. If he said the Lord had me/us, I could and can trust that! Thankfully, I have had a long, loving relationship with the Lord myself, so I know Him intimately. During this process, the Lord has not only strengthened me with memories of His great care for me down through my life but has constantly reminded me, using Clint, that me and the children are in the best possible Hands!
God still continually uses my sweet man’s words to remind me of His own great and awesome love toward me!! I have been loved with a love by a human in a way that is hard to put into words. I know this was given by God and that has sustained me through a viewing, a funeral, and this new life I am continuing to navigate.
The night of the viewing, the Lord reminded me that the bodily representation of Clint laying in the casket, was not really him. It was the first time I remember feeling angry at what the enemy stole from us! I challenged our children with these words, “Daddy taught us to never waste a moment! Tonight, we will go out there and love just like we have always tried to love and most definitely the way he always loved! That is not really him there! So, we make this moment count! For Christ and Daddy! Let’s go love big! And give the enemy the blackest eye we can!” And, that is what we endeavored to do for 4 hours, until the line had to be closed. I was saddened to not be able to exchange a hug to the rest who had come to show their love.
The Lord was indeed our strength!
Here is the last quote I will leave you with for today. I wrote this in my journal as I was preparing my last farewell to Clint. “The love of a wife to her husband may begin from the supply of her necessities, but afterwards she may love him also for the sweetness of his person; so the soul first loves Christ for salvation but when she is brought to Him and finds what sweetness there is in Him then she loves Him for Himself.” ~ Richard Sibbes
God sent Clint into my life 25 years ago. Clint and I learned to love each other so sweetly. It opened my eyes to the love the Creator of the Universe had for me! In turn, my love for the Creator of the Universe grew to heights and depths unknown even to me at the time. I am realizing now, more than ever how deep those depths go. How high those heights go. And I know I can never exhaust the “limits” because those don’t exist with Him! Praise God!!
Who are you loving like this? People are the most important “things” on this planet! Do the people in your life feel loved by you? Do they feel important to you? When they talk to you, do you stay on your phone half listening? Or do you put all distractions to the side and look them in the eye to really listen? Do you seek to understand them? If you were to die today, would those closest to you find strength for their new journey, just for having known you? Does your life point them to the cross, where our beloved Savior bled and died and rose again to bring us into a relationship with Him? If not, the best time to plant a tree that will give shade is either ten years ago or today (reference to a Chinese Proverb).