“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.”
Proverbs 11:14 KJV
14 years ago, that’s how long it has been since my life was “normal”.
14 years ago on April 25, 2008, I died but God allowed me to return. Little did I know that I would be cursing Him a week later.
Because 14 years ago, on the morning of May 3, 2008, I died again when my baby boy was taken from me, Again God saved me but kept my son Jamie. I was angry with God for doing that, Why Jamie today and not me last week? (For those who don’t know the story, I had a massive heart attack on April 25th).
Why was I being punished? What had I done to deserve this?
14 years ago, I thought my life was done. At least that was MY thinking, MY anger, MY unfaithfulness…
I had been in the hospital the last week of Jamie’s life. When I got home, I was tired and quite irritable. Anyone who met Jamie, knows he is an easy going and extremely laid-back person. As a father it was my job to prepare him for the world. Someday he would be a husband and father (or so I thought).
What I knew of the world was that it was harsh. I’m thankful to God for the ability to work for everything that He’s blessed with me. But I didn’t want my sons to have to work as hard as I did. I stayed on Jamie about school, organizing/cleaning his room, and being on his cell phone way too much. One of my last conversations with him was an argument about the cell phone. My harsh words with him over the phone ate at me for years.
Until I learned to focus on the truth of the situation. Jamie’s in heaven now, he’s not replaying that conversation. He understands that Dad was trying to prepare him for life as a grown man on this earth. He knows I love him, and he understands and appreciates the sacrifices his Mom and I made for him. He was extremely confident in his walk with Christ because of the love and guidance Laura and I modeled in our home. Yet the enemy of my soul wanted me to focus on that one conversation.
It has taken me 14 years to fully understand why I was allowed to suffer through that and so many other trials. I have regained my faith in God, but it was a long road to travel. Sometimes I felt totally alone carrying the guilt and hatred in my heart, but eventually realized that it was Satan not God that was inflicting my soul. I had allowed Satan a stronghold in my life in the early years and didn’t even realize it. I had allowed depression, guilt, fear, hate and grief to take control of my life. Oh, I kept it hidden pretty- well.
As men we tend to do that. Men have this uncanny ability to take the bad and compartmentalize it and bury it deep in their subconscious. As an Army Veteran, I had suffered with PTSD before and knew what the monster looked like and knew how to keep it at bay. I courted the lair of my new monster daily, not quite letting it win me over. But in time I knew I had to destroy the monster, in order to get back to some semblance of a normal life. I was lucky to have strong men around me that counseled me back to reality. They fed me life sustaining advice from their own personal walks within the world and with God. Advice that was critical for me to survive one minute to the next. Men that even if they didn’t know the exact pain I was feeling could relate through other trails. I now know that God kept me around for a reason. A reason that is known only to him and is being revealed a little at a time. God has put people in my life that I have been able to help through this walk of grief and pain that we mutually suffer. God has kept my marriage intact, and it is stronger now than ever. God has given me purpose though sometimes I fail see it. But that is my own fault.
In time, with prayer and purposeful living, you can get through the feelings of depression, guilt, self-hatred and fear. Align yourself with a person that you can discuss your feelings with. A close friend, family member, pastor or counselor. Fill your mind with good thoughts of your loved one, don’t dwell on the bad days. What was said or done while they were living cannot be changed once they have passed, do not let those things steal your healing.
You will always grieve your loved ones, but it if you keep pressing into Jesus, it will get easier to live your life.
I am still in the same body as I was 14 years ago, but my mind is stronger. My faith is restored.
If you’re walking through the valley of the shadow of death, don’t walk it alone. As much as you may want to isolate from others – don’t do it.
“There’s safety in the multitude of counsel of others” – – you need Jesus! And you will need others to be speak Jesus into you when your feelings are completely overwhelmed. When you can’t see a way out – don’t retreat men – reach out to others!
Keep Up the Fire,