Octobers can be painfully difficult. My mother died in October, 24 years ago. Over the last four Octobers, my paternal grandfather, a beloved pastor/father figure, and a dear family friend (who was like an uncle to me) all passed away. And just yesterday, I shared about yet another man who influenced my life, who recently transitioned . Because October carries so much heaviness, my excitement in preparing for upcoming holidays is mingled with sadness and grief.
But, unexpectedly, the moments I mourn loved ones have also grown into times of reflection—reminiscing about the past. In these moments, I have caught glimpses of joy and a greater purpose. My mother, my grandfather, all my loved ones left their impressions—their footprints—behind. I remember being able to talk to my mom about anything, and how she would say, “It’s easier to lose a person’s trust than to gain it. Do what you can to keep it.” I recall seeing tears well up in my grandfather’s eyes whenever one of his grandchildren would do something that made him proud – tender moments from a man who many viewed as stoic. These memories connect me to the great love that they had for me, and remind me of God’s precious gift of life. Each one serves as a reminder that I have been left behind for a reason.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t always feel the whole joy-and-greater-purpose stuff. There have been times I wanted to give up.
Years that I ached for my mother.
Struggling to conceive again.
The deep pit of depression.
I think back to the fall after moving to serve here in California. We arrived that summer full of enthusiasm and anticipation. Only to have jobs fall through, end up staying in 5 different locations in a 7 month period, struggle through strained relationships, grieve the loss of my grandfather and in the midst of it all discover we were pregnant. Life was very different than what I expected, and I was angry with God.
But, as it often occurs, that November held its own new beginnings. I recall friends of ours encouraging us, praying over us, supporting us, offering to house us. Those trials birthed relationships with people who are family to us now. I remember unexpected financial gifts from unexpected people- reminders that God’s provision could come in unexpected ways. I vividly recall the ‘fog’ lifting, and peace – a quiet and gentle reminder that we would be ok. That following month, Reggie was blessed with a job that provided exactly what we needed to move into our own place. God sees and hears.
Then, the November after the miscarriage, and a year after we unsuccessfully tried to conceive – I had given up. Tossed my hands in the air. Shook my fist at God declaring that, “You would do whatever You wanted anyway. Why ask? Why even pray???!” I didn’t think He saw me, or cared.
That day, my husband put his foot through the ceiling – mis-stepped in the attic, and the only thing that fell thru was his foot. Not his body, which would have landed on the large mirror directly underneath where he fell.
We hosted Thanksgiving in our home the next day, for the first time. I remember the gratitude I felt as friends rushed about to do what he could not (he had an ankle sprain). We gathered around the borrowed tables crammed into our living room – laughing, smiling, feeling loved. I was given glimmers of hope, a reminder, again, that I am here for a reason, and God sees and hears.
Then, there was that November, just a year later, just one year after I gave up – where God blessed us with a sweet little boy, just in time for Thanksgiving. A baby whose conception was unexpected—much like the joys of life, and whose birth took longer than I planned—much like the trials of life. My son constantly reminds me that God hears, and sees, and answers. His very name—Enoch – which I get to say often these days—reminds me of the importance of walking with God and that without faith it is impossible to please Him. There’s no question: this child is here for a reason.
With this reminder, I move into the hope-filled days of November, remembering that like those who have gone before me, I am here for reason.
So, if you find yourself on a similar path today, frustrated, disappointed, grieved, please do not give up. Be encouraged. God sees and He hears. YOU are here for a reason.