Near the end of August, I had the opportunity to travel to speak at a Single Mom’s Day Out Event located very close to the Atlantic Ocean. At the end of a long, hard summer, it was more than apparent that both my brother and I needed a break. So we decided to head out a little early and spend a few hours enjoying the peace, relaxation, and calming effects of the sand, the waves, and the beautiful sea air.
Heading into our evening at the beach, I was beyond excited. I could literally hardly sit still, I was so eager to arrive at the boardwalk and enjoy the ocean. In the end, it didn’t disappoint. It was absolutely beautiful---and relaxing---and absolutely fun. I’m sure out friends on Social Media thought we were ridiculous with all of the pictures we shared---but for us, these few hours of fun at the beach were something that we hadn’t experienced in almost 15 years. And we enjoyed every single minute of it!!!
Of course, this wasn’t the first time we’d been to the ocean in 15 years---it was just the first time we’d enjoyed it.
The truth is that the very last time I was at the beach was 6 years ago---just a few short weeks after my Mom had gone to be with Jesus. It was Mother’s Day weekend (the first without her) and we tried to escape the pain by getting away. As anyone who has gone through deep grief understands, there is no escaping grief---if follows you wherever you go.
To completely understand the situation, you need to understand that for years before she passed away, Mom suffered with environmental allergies that would shut down her lungs whenever she got around a strong odor. During this time of helping her and my brother with their health issues, one of my main responsibilities was to be very aware of any scents that would send my Mom into an allergy attack so that we could avoid any danger. For years, we did everything we could to avoid perfumes, harsh chemicals, or anything that would cause her harm.
Well, it was only a few weeks after she passed away that I attempted to go to the beach and stay in a hotel for the first time in over 10 years. As soon as I walked into the hotel room and smelled the chemicals they used to clean it, my radar went off and my brain recognized “Danger.”
Only there was no more danger because my Mom wasn’t there.
Immediately, I was overcome with intense grief. Like a tidal wave, all of the feelings of pain and anger and sadness that I had to control at home flooded my heart leaving me paralyzed to do anything but cry and cry and cry.
My heart was broken. I had lost my Mom, my mentor, and my best friend. We’d gone from spending every day together to her just being gone.
It was the most awful vacation ever and we went back home less than 24 hours after we arrived.
In August, as we were driving toward the ocean, I couldn’t help but remember that trip from years ago. Only this time, that’s all I did—remember.
There was no pain. No intense grief. Even though I remembered my Mom when we were at the ocean or purchasing salt water taffy from her favorite candy store, this time the grief was replaced by joy and happy memories of days gone by. When I had the opportunity to share her testimony---the story of how Jesus radically changed her life and our family when she became a Christian---with the women at the event, there was no pain---just pride in the rich legacy of having Kathy Holden as my Mom.
In that moment, I realized something: the grief was gone. The pain had healed.
It really is true: weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
That weekend as I laughed and had fun at the beach, took silly selfies, ate salt water taffy, watched the waves, I stood as a testimony to anyone who is grieving that there is hope. Grief does not last forever.
Healing comes. Joy returns. The pain fades and the fond memories will return.
Today, if you find yourself grieving, I want to encourage you: you will make it. This will not last forever.
No, I’m not diminishing your hurt or the fact that you can’t see past the pain right now. I’m just telling you as someone who’s been there and walked through that, you will have brighter days again. If you allow Him, God will heal your pain and restore your soul.
This season of grief is only a season. Like all seasons, it will change.
Whether you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, a relationship, a hope or dream, a job or any loss, I want to encourage you today that you are going to be okay.
Keep walking forward, keep trusting Jesus, and know that your heart will heal and you will find joy again.
I know because I did. Even though six years ago, I couldn’t imagine being happy and pain free again, I can now stand as a testimony that through Jesus, you can heal. You can forgive. You can move forward, and you will find joy again.
Dear Heavenly Father, I bring before You every heart that is grieving today. Father, You know the source of their grief, and every ounce of pain that they are feeling today. Father, I ask that You would please send your Holy Spirit to comfort them, heal their hearts, and give them peace. Give them hope today that You are with them in this season of their lives, You’re walking beside them, leading them through this time and out of this time, into a new season filled with hope, peace, and joy. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
“Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
“See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come” Song of Solomon 2:11-12