So this summer, after years of saying I wouldn’t watch a cheesy Hallmark channel television series, my newly found love for Hallmark channel movies (which started with an addiction to Hallmark Christmas movies) led me to start binge watching their series, “When Calls the Heart”. It wasn’t long until I realized why so many of my friends love it. It’s a really great show.
For those of you who are still too cool for Hallmark, the show focuses on a community of people who live in a small mining town appropriately named Coal Valley. As we meet the characters in season one, we learn that they’ve just undergone a massive tragedy. There was a mining accident and over 40 men died. The town is now filled with grieving widows and children—-including Abigail Stanton who lost both her husband and her son in the mine. Just like her namesake in the Bible, Abigail Stanton is an amazing woman. She has tremendous faith, and her faith is a bedrock for other women in the community who must now learn to live with their new normal. Throughout season one we see her take in neighbors to help them, save the widows from losing their homes, and support everyone and anyone who was in need. And then we see her do something for herself. It all starts when she receives a compliment on her cooking and gets an idea to start a cafe. Excited about starting this new adventure in her life, she goes to the local “Scrooge” with a plan to rent his building and start her new business. Being a nasty man, he counters her business offer with a hard choice: She could have the building and open her restaurant IF she will give up the house she is living in that is owned by his company. It was a cruel move on his part. He was asking her to give up the home that she and her husband had lived in for years—-the home where she raised her son—-a place filled with memories of the ones that she dearly loved and lost. And yet, if she didn’t let go of her past, there was no way she could step into her future. She had to make a choice. As I watched this episode late one summer night, I understood exactly how she felt. You see, as I wrote in my blog "Still Finding Healing", God has been doing a lot of work on my heart this summer. He’s been healing parts of my heart that I wasn’t strong enough to deal with before. He’s been releasing me from guilt and untying some knots that were still in my mind, but mostly He’s been untying some grave clothes of grief that have maintained a very tight hold on my heart and mind.
As I said in that blog, I was struggling to let go of my Mom’s things, my Mom’s design, and my desire to keep everything exactly the way it was when she went to Heaven. Literally, as I was fighting this battle in my mind, the Holy Spirit used this episode of a show to remind me of the truth that:
You can’t move forward unless you are willing to let go of the past.
Even more, this episode helped me to remember the truth that:
Letting go doesn’t mean you didn’t love. It just means you have to move on with your life the way that your loved one moved on with their life.
Honestly, this was a harder truth for me to face. (But I’ve never known the Holy Spirit to shy away from making me face a hard truth that would heal my heart.) Perhaps that’s why God allowed this show to be on just the right night to soften the blow. To show me that like Abigail Stanton, I had a choice to make. I could either continue allowing my grief to fill me with guilt, anger, and restrict my life or I could choose to work through the issues in my heart using the principles found in God’s Word, be brave and move forward. This summer, for me, moving forward meant choosing to make the changes that I really wanted to make in our house….to choose a new paint color, to replace happy memories with sad ones on the walls, and to let myself do it all without feeling guilty. But that wasn’t all….it also meant spending lots of time talking with Jesus as He untied the knots in my heart. I meant journalling and talking, talking, talking until I think the people closest to me were honesty sick of hearing me talk. I had to once and for all settle in my heart that my Mom was in a better place. She is happy, alive, healthy, and free from abuse in Heaven. I had to accept that it was God’s will for my Mom to go to Heaven and for my life to move forward. I even had to accept that refusing to move forward or even feeling guilty for it was actually fighting God’s will. (How’s that for a hard truth?) And I had to forgive those who didn’t do their best when my Mom was alive. The one who caused the heartache and pain that we all lived with for years. I had to let them off the hook so that I could let myself off the hook and stop feeling like I needed to “super-grieve” to make up for their actions. Yep, it’s been a hard summer—-but it was a necessary summer because like Abigail Stanton until I realized that it was ok for me to move forward, I couldn’t really move forward. And so, like her, I put on my brave face, and began taking the first painful steps out of grief and into freedom. Can I tell you a secret? With each step that I’ve taken forward (even when I’ve been crying all the way through) I feel stronger. I feel more free. I even feel excited about what God has planned for the future. And I’m sharing all of this with you so that if there’s anyone out there struggling with the same issues, you will be encouraged to take the same steps. I hope that my vulnerability will help you see that you’re not the only one who feels the way you do. Letting go of the past is hard—-especially when it means letting go of someone you loved. And yet, it’s a normal part of life. And God wants to help you through it. He doesn’t want you to spend the rest of your life tied up in knots of grief and heartache—-even guilt that you are happy while the other person is gone. Even though these feelings are completely normal, God doesn’t want you to stay there for the rest of your life. It’s His will that you face your feelings, experience your grief, and then choose to move forward. This isn’t something that He expects you to do on your own. He’s given you every tool that you need to help you do it. The same healing principles that help us overcome every area of our past will help us work through out areas of grief. Most importantly, He will be right there with you every step of the way—holding you, comforting you, and giving you the strength and courage that you need to take your next steps into the future. You know, one of the new pieces of art that I added to my house has a Scripture verse on it:
“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Originally, we purchased it because we liked the lighthouse theme, but one day while I was reading the Bible, I realized the context of this verse.
God was telling Joshua to be strong and courageous and move forward after Moses died. It’s important to realize that Joshua and Moses were very close. Moses was Joshua’s mentor and Joshua was his right hand man. As I read the entirety of this passage, I realized that this verse is a call for Joshua to step out of his grief and move forward into all that God had for him and the people of Israel. Hanging in my living room, this picture represents the same call for me. It’s time to move forward. It’s time to let go of the past and leave guilt and grief behind. Like Abigail Stanton in When Calls the Heart, it’s time to take a chance and move forward. Like Joshua, it’s time accept God’s will, be strong and courageous and follow God into all that He has planned for your lives. If you get the chance to check out When Calls the Heart, give it a try….you’ll enjoy it.
To Begin Learning God's Principles for Finding Healing and Freedom, Read FINDING HEALING.....