Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday, July 31st~God's Mercies after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother's Heart~I Miss Joshua 24/7~Devotion

photo by Jean Ann Williams

“Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.”
—Philippians 3:15 KJV

My husband got called into work, and I couldn’t sleep though it was midnight. I went into the living room, put on a Jesus movie, and lay on the sofa. For a moment I forgot my loss, forgot my pain, and focused on Jesus Christ. My heart swooned with love for Him and His willingness to die for us.

When the movie ended, I clicked it off and the screen went blank. Then, I remembered. No Joshua. No reason to live. When will my tears stop? When will my heart stop hurting—stop beating? Can you mend my shattered soul, Lord?

Even in my present wretched state of mind, I knew Jesus loved me.

I opened my eyes and turned my face to gaze at a wrought-iron plaque Scripture on the opposite wall. I had recently bought it at a Bible bookstore. It read: “Joshua 24:15: But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Out loud, I said to my Lord, “I miss Joshua 24/7.” The moment I spoke those words, a stirring moved within my spirit. I waited. Listened. It was a prompting of the Holy Spirit for me to look up the verse Joshua 24:7.

I leaped off the sofa and got my Bible off my bedside table. I flipped the pages to Joshua 24:7. I read and nothing caught my attention—until the very last part: “And ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season.” What? What’s this?

Then a knowing came to my mind. I said aloud, “Oh, Lord, no! Please, not this.” Not me suffering this agonizing pain for a longer time. Not me still in this house for how much longer? I hate this house. Please God, no!

I reread the verse and I knew. God was showing me I had to live in the house where Joshua died for a while yet. God was showing me I would dwell in the wilderness of the valley of the shadow for a longer time.

I lay there on the sofa, and tears rolled down the sides of my face and dripped, dripped into my ears.

I allowed what I read to soak over my mind, and I began to accept it. A growing sense of awe replaced my disappointment. I rejoiced for God gave me a message. And He weaved that blessing through this mother’s heart.

Holy Lord, I do not like the thought of a longer season of staying in this house. But You are God, and I am not. In Jesus’s precious name. Amen.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wednesday, July 29th~God's Mercies after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother's Heart~A Mother's Memories

Joshua on the right, with his date for Senior Prom
“Mom, please don’t go to Reno.” Joshua and I stood outside in the backyard the day before I was to go with my husband to a convention in Reno, Nevada.

I placed hands on my hips. “Do you know what you’re saying? I’ve waited a year for this trip.”

Joshua lowered his gaze.

It was two weeks before his death, and Joshua had been acting nervous. More so than usual. His fears became serious. He was afraid the drinking water was poisoned—the same with the air we breathed. He was sure our house harbored all types of toxins.

I peered closer in hopes he would look at me. “Tell me what’s wrong, Son.”

Joshua sucked in a deep breath. “I’m not feeling quite right. I don’t want to be left alone.”

The fear in his eyes was real. I couldn’t leave him for the long weekend. “I’ll tell your dad.” As I walked away, my selfish side hurt for the loss of a much-needed getaway. My mother’s heart knew all was not right. Oh, how I wanted my son to be happy and well adjusted. I sensed a shift. Before, Joshua had stopped talking to us, but now he confided, and I didn’t like what he had just said to me.

My husband took the news seriously. We agreed that he would check on us several times a day. I would report to him how Joshua was feeling and acting.

After my husband left, the next day Joshua and I were playing Scrabble. He didn’t want me to use the central heat though it was cold. I got up from the table during his turn in Scrabble and brought back the sheets from the dryer. It was my turn, and I sat down and wrapped in the sheets without thinking about what I was doing. Warmth enveloped me, and I concentrated on my next word.

Suddenly Joshua laughed.

He startled me, since I hadn’t heard him laugh since the rake had hit me in the nose. “What?”

He pointed. “You. You’re silly-looking in the sheets.”

I frowned, but was so glad for a more normal moment in our otherwise quiet game. “I wouldn’t be doing this if you’d let me turn on the heat. It’s freezing in here.

My son shook his head, buttoned his lips, and said no more about it. I stared at him, willing Joshua to admit this heater thing was silly.

Lord God, that time was a low point for us as a family. Joshua drove my nerves into the ground. But still, I never knew he planned to die by suicide. I’ve failed as a mother, Lord. Why did I not recognize that his erratic behavior meant something as serious as death? Please, Lord, forgive me for all my failings as Joshua’s mother. In Jesus’s holy name. Amen.
Reader Journal
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Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday, July 27th~God's Mercies after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother's Heart~The Morning after Joshua's Burial~Devotion

Joshua and best friend Dana, high school age

But the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and he spoke with me and said to me, “Go, shut yourself within your house.”
—Ezekiel 3:24

That morning after we buried Joshua’s ashes, I walked into the living room after waking.

Something was different within me. Lighter. My shoulders. It seemed a boulder had rolled off of them. And as I looked around, scales dropped from my eyes. I came closer to an end table and swiped my fingers across the dust. I said out loud, “I can’t believe all this dust.”

I thought a moment and shook my head. I had not remembered to dust in a year. Too preoccupied with my grief work, I didn’t think of it. Dusting was not important that whole year.

It was then I remembered again what the Compassionate Friends lady said to me at the park that day all those months ago.

“Jean, plow through the middle of your grief. Do not turn left or right or it will take much longer to come out the other side. If you’re not careful, you could become lost. And when you successfully come out the other end, you’ll have more compassion for others.”

I obeyed that kind lady.

I would have never made it without the kindness of others, all of them sent to me by You, Lord, at Your perfect hour. In Jesus’s holy name. Amen.