The drama unfolded at Memphis International Airport inside the compact Honda Civic I’d owned for seven years.
I shut the door, and with the windows rolled up against the July heat, I opened my mouth and screamed. I screamed as loud as I had ever screamed.
The man I loved, the one waiting for a plane, no longer wanted me. I had thought he was the one. He decided someone else was the one. She, too, had been at the airport. I screamed to release a wad of pain lodged in my gut.
The year was 2007. To add insult to injury, the event occurred a year and a week after my daddy’s death. Grief on top of grief.
What happened next illustrates an essential aspect of getting through a crisis, surviving something that rips out your heart.
What I did then I try to do anytime I lose something or someone important to me.
The next week, I sanded my kitchen cabinet doors and wiped sweat from my forehead as I worked on the carport. Work is good therapy, but I also was getting ready for what was ahead. A husband. I was nesting, I suppose. I also figured once the real Mr. Right arrived, I wouldn’t have time to redo my kitchen cabinets.
I was positioning myself, a phrase I’d heard from Bishop T.J. Jakes, senior pastor of the Dallas megachurch, Potter’s House.
I understood him to mean that we need to prepare ourselves for the arrival of opportunities and blessings. Then we will be ready to accept all that comes our way.
A simplistic example is if I were looking for water, I’d carry a pitcher. I’d also wear good walking shoes in case the water was farther than I expected. Can you imagine if I stumbled upon a clear, cold brook and didn’t have anything to collect the water?
In the same way, we should look forward to what’s ahead with expectation.
Anticipate something good will follow the horrible thing that happened. In this way, we move through our woes. We move forward, even if in barely perceptible steps over long periods.
I do not mean we should ignore our present sorrow. Deny feelings. Tell ourselves everything is going to be all right in some fanciful way.
Life has changed, and we need to actively mourn our losses for as long as necessary. But we can simultaneously look ahead as we grieve.
We might look ahead in a way that is as tangible as a new coat of stain on a set of kitchen cabinets. Or we may look ahead for something intangible, like anticipating happiness with the man of our dreams. Or we may do both.
Less than a year after that airport drama, I began dating the man who would become my husband. In another year, I realized the irony as we left for our honeymoon to Jamaica. We took off from the same airport where I’d been in so much pain. The bad memory had been redeemed. I had found the real one for me.
Eleven years later, I’ve had too many opportunities to apply the concept of waiting expectantly and positioning myself for good stuff to follow the bad stuff – as I grieve the bad stuff.
How can I be so confident that good will follow bad? Because of God. And because of my personal history with him. I’ve seen his promises come true.
My favorite verse in the Bible is Romans 8:28.
“All things work together for God to them who love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.”
Not only will good follow bad because a good God is in charge of the universe, but he will cause the bad things that happen to yield good things for those who love him.
What a reversal in the natural order of things – bad seed will produce good fruit!
Now that is something to look forward to.
If you are in the middle of a crisis, afraid the hurt will never end, take God’s hand today. Find hope in him. And begin preparing for healing and blessings ahead.
What is something tangible that you can work on while you are healing? What intangible, exciting thing can you anticipate coming your way?
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