It probably feels like a bit of an understatement, but the last 2 months have been the worst of my life. Even though we all knew that Linda was very ill, and had been preparing for it for sometime, it was still a shock to me when she died – you think you’re bullet proof. When you have cared for your most loved one for so long through something as horrible as cancer, part of you adapts to life without them before you have to. Even so, the pain of loss is excruciating.
I didn’t know that grief was physically painful – the day after she died I had pins and needles down one side all day, whilst my guts just screwed up inside of me for days. I had to put two extra holes in my belt by the end of the first week. I found myself walking into rooms and asking myself why I had gone in there. In Asda, I spent 5 minutes staring at the shampoo shelf just trying to spot the bottle of shampoo we always had. And the tears. I have never cried so much, or so deeply ever – the whole of my body just shook from somewhere inside of me I didn’t know existed every day for a week.
One of the questions I get asked regularly at the moment is “How do you cope – and you a minister?” Quite simply I don’t know how anyone could cope without faith in God. That’s not me being flippant, or religious, or a minister – it’s the result of the last 17 years of learning to trust God through tough times and discovering that Christianity is true.
This is a question I have turned to repeatedly over the last month – “If this God stuff is true…” Over the summer I was researching evidence for Christianity in order to begin writing some material looking at my argument “we don’t have a blind faith, but one that stands the test.” To know that the foundations of our faith are solid, trustworthy and reliable means that the rest of the house can stand. Paul writes “If only for this life we have hope, then we are to be pitied more than all men” and for the Christian, death is just the beginning. Linda is more alive than ever now, and I choose to celebrate this and live in it despite the pain of separation. It is possible for the Christian to do this however bad the circumstances are we go through.
In addition to the amazing love and care of my church family who have adopted this southerner-stranger who speaks funny into their hearts, another thing that has lifted me has been my kids, their simple, childlike faith and their ability to embrace and get on with life. They go faster than us adults want to sometimes, and it is impossible to be down for too long with the hustle, bustle, fights and laughter of normal family life. They are truly brilliant and a real joy to me as I learn to be a single parent. And some of their questions make you scream (with both pain and laughter!) For example, Esther is desperate to know if God cooks the party food in heaven!
I’ve started back to work this week after a month off. I needed it to get my head back together, and last week we returned to Kent for a week with friends and family. That was a great time, a real time of special blessing, refreshing and encouragement. I never realised how much people loved us, and it filled my tank up to get going again !
So watch out folk – I’m back!!!!