Leave the past in the past – Philippians 3:13-16

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There are 3 things God is working out in my life right now: Worship, relationship within His body and the death of my mother.

My mother was a “suburb alcoholic”. She had a full time job and was a full time wife and mom and cook and maid… and she never had an easy life. She wasn’t a drunk hanging out on the sidewalks or sitting on park benches with a bottle of something. She was a hardworking woman who enjoyed alcohol a bit too much. She had a choice. During my childhood I don’t remember her being particularly nasty or drunk, but during my teens I do remember how viciously evil she could become in her words especially when alcohol went in and took over. She couldn’t control her drinking and it became her death.

On the night she died, the ambulance came around 4 pm after she had vomited blood and she fell to the floor drifting in and out of unconsciousness. She was taken to the emergency room and received blood… But the doctors couldn’t stop the bleeding. After several hours of trying to save her life, she was taken to the ICU, where a kind nurse was wiping away her blood as it came from mouth, nose, ear – every hole in her body. They put her in a respirator and on sleep inducing painkiller.

I got a shock when I saw her. She didn’t look awful, but with 7 needles in her hand I couldn’t hold it. So I pushed my hand underneath hers. I knew that her life would end. They woke her up so we could say our goodbye’s… I told her I loved her. She couldn’t answer me because of all the tubes, but her eyes spoke and I’m grateful for that moment. After a bit they put her back to sleep and her blood slowly ran out of her body. I was wiping it away as gently as I could. The life ran out of her and I was wiping it up. My brother asked the doctor if it was cirrhosis of the liver and he nodded.

The doctors told us that it would be a miracle if she made it through the night. They put words on it. I remember that sinking feeling and I asked my dad “what happens if she does make it through the night?” – and his answer was “then it will be a miracle if she makes it through tomorrow”. She didn’t make it through the night. About 3 hours later, at 1 am, she drew her last breath and the machine went silent. But those 3 hours lasted… for what seemed like a lifetime. Watching someone – a loved one – bleed to death is tough. You know what is coming so you want to hang on. Yet, you know what is coming so you want it to be over with fast.

After her death my life seemed to stop and I couldn’t understand how the world could continue. It took some time, but I eventually came to terms with my mom’s death. I forgave her for choosing continually to drink even when the doctors had told her to stop (yes, she knew, but she had kept it quiet). We learn to live without our loved ones and it is now 11 years ago and some months.

My mom was not a believer. At the time, I was not a believer either. I so wish I had been though! If I had just had my Jesus during that time, I would have had something to hang on to and trust. A never ending strength and love… But I didn’t. In my family there is a tendency on my moms side to depression. I am not sure how far back it goes, but I know that my mom’s dad had it (who died very young somewhere in Berlin during WWII), my mom had it and turned to alcohol and her brother had it and turned to a gun ending up shooting himself (suicide). I have it too. But I will be forever grateful that Jesus came and picked me up and though I may have struggles, I will never need alcohol or a gun or anything else besides Jesus.

But recently God has brought my mom up again and I knew there was something I had to deal with but I didn’t know what. After all, it’s 11 years ago and I am okay with my mom being gone. But – when a friend shared how God was working the grief of loosing one of her parents out in her – I found myself sharing my moms death with her. Which is something I rarely do. Yes, she’s dead. Yes, she was an alcoholic. Yes, we learn to live without our parents. But… I suddenly realized that I had not come to terms with the way she died. The blood, the tubes, the needles in her hand. I have had some weeping days and this time I am allowing myself to cry. When God shows you that there is still pain in your heart, He wants to heal it. So I am pouring out my pain to Him.

I wanted to share with all of you who actually read this blog, where God had me open my Bible this morning and the words jumped right at me. I know Paul is not talking directly about dealing with grief and loss and trauma, but still;

Philippians 3:13, 15-16 (GNT)
13 … the one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead.  –  15 All of us who are spiritually mature should have this same attitude. But if some of you have a different attitude, God will make this clear to you. 16 However that may be, let us go forward according to the same rules we have followed until now.

And God spoke; “leave the past in the past”.

I definitely have something I need to deal with and then leave it at His feet.

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16 thoughts on “Leave the past in the past – Philippians 3:13-16

  1. Bless you sister. May you continually experience our heavenly Fathers love and grace shining down on you. He heals and restores all things! Thank you for sharing your story with all of us – you are very brave!

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  2. You are so right that sometimes we CAN’T leave the past until we understand what it is about the past that is holding us back. It took me years to figure out why my own mother’s death was so painful to me.

    My mom died of lung cancer just before her 60th birthday when my first child had just turned a year old. She had been heavily smoking (2-3 packs a day!) since she was 17, despite our beseeching her to stop. She outright refused. “I smoke because I enjoy it, and I’m not going to stop!”

    For years I dreamed of having Mom there as a grandmother to my future children. My sister was almost 7 years older than me and began having children when she was 17 years old. I, on the other hand, did not have my first child until I was 30 years old. I watched my mom be a grandmother to my sister’s children for more than 20 years. She was an AMAZING grandmother. My nieces and nephew literally loved her more than their own mother. I was really looking forward to her being such a wonderful grandmother to my own children. But she died.

    It took me years to understand that I was ANGRY with her! I was angry because she knew she was prone to cancer (she had already survived breast cancer), yet she refused to stop smoking. I was angry because she wasn’t “there” for me and my children.

    Once I understood that the majority of my pain at her loss was coming from unresolved anger, it was a simple matter of giving it over to Yeshua and forgiving her. That overwhelming pain was gone in no time, and now I simply miss her terribly. (She was absolutely my best friend ever.) But the forgiveness could not come until I acknowledged that there was a NEED for forgiveness. I am so grateful that He revealed my ugly and selfish anger!!

    After I had forgiven her, I was finally able to go through my collection of letters from her. I had not been able to read them before – too painful. Among the letters was an article that I remembered having seen hanging on her bulletin board for many years. The article was about the pain and cost to families of parents living into old age with dementia or Alzheimer’s and the misery this caused families. I found a second copy of the same article among some of her mementos my dad sent me a few years later. This article had been VERY important to my mother. Then I remembered that her mother and her aunt had both suffered from Alzheimer’s and had been great financial burdens to their families, not to mention the emotional distress their condition caused their children. So now I understood WHY Mom was willing – even anxious – to die young, so that she would not be a burden to her family. Mom was always one to put her family before herself.

    I think she was mistaken in this attitude, but understanding it certainly helped me to appreciate her love for us and her desire to prevent our having to deal with the pain and expense of caring for her if she were to develop Alzheimer’s.

    My point being: we often do need to understand the root of an issue before we can turn it over to Yeshua. I am so grateful that Abba is faithful to reveal those roots to us if we genuinely want to deal with them!! It is good to hear that you and He are working through so many issues together!!!!

    Much love to you, my sister. The Path awaits – may you and I always walk it hand in hand with our incredible Messiah!!!

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    1. Oh Sue – I have sorely missed you! How is Jordan these days?
      Thanks for sharing your story of your mom here. Yes our loving Lord walks with us every step of the way and it wasn’t until my “wine” moment that I too realized that, I needed to understand why she drank and that a part of dealing with my dad’s death was to deal with my moms. I’m relieved because I understand now, yet I will always miss them both and the grieving process for both of them can now continue. Praying I’ll never leave His side!! He takes my tears now and still and forever.
      Love you my sweet friend.

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      1. I’m touched that you have missed me, Lene – thank you. I have been faithfully reading all your articles (and loving every one of them!), but haven’t done much commenting because I get tired of “hearing myself talk” and I figured you might be tired of it too!! 🙂

        As for Jordan, It is fabulous! We have never been so busy, but it is meaningful business – the fellowship is wonderful, we are learning amazing things every day about our Messiah and His Kingdom, and we are finding exciting ways to serve. For example, on Monday we will be visiting with some Iraqi Christian refugees and helping them with their emigration applications. We are also in the process of opening a school here in Aqaba and helping to start another internet-based business to help support the younger families that want to come over here. And of course it is such a joy to be able to be in Jerusalem for the three Pilgrim Feasts – an amazing experience each time!!

        I truly hear and understand what you’re saying about dealing with your parents’ deaths. I feel the same way. We are both so blessed to be able to walk through life with our Messiah!!! Not only does He take our tears, He shares our joys as well, and magnifies their beauty. He is SO GOOD!!!

        Keep writing, Lene – you are touching (and healing) hearts. Love you!!! ❤ ❤ ❤

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      2. Oh dear Sue – I’ll never get tired of hearing your comments 💕. So glad to have you back!
        Good heavens you are busy! But I’m so envious you get to be in Jerusalem (I would personally take any time of year 😉).
        You really think I touch hearts by my blog writing?? Lately I have been wondering and asking the Lord what I have done for His kingdom, to show Him… (Parable of the coins). So it’s encouraging.
        Love you more.

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      3. You touch MY heart with every article, and always give me something to consider. Thank you!!! ❤ Don't worry about "counting coup" (figuring out what you have done for Him). I guarantee you that He places the greatest value on things that you will never even realize you did until you stand before His Throne.

        Love Him, study His Word and OBEY it (Deut 6:25, Ex 20:6, Deut 5:10, John 14:15, John 14:21, John 14:24), and you can't go wrong. 🙂 He is faithful to His promises, and He has promised that "The secret [intimate counsel] of YHVH is with them that fear him; and He will shew them His Covenant." (Ps 25:14)

        If you want a SIGN that you belong to Him, keep His Sabbaths: "And hallow MY Sabbaths [the Sabbath is HIS; it is not 'Jewish']; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am YHVH your God." (Ezek 20:20) " "Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath." (Mark 2:28)

        Keep writing, Lene!!! I am so glad that Abba led me to your blog. I look forward to each post. Thank you for sharing your heart – it helps the rest of us examine our own. Much love to you, my treasured sister. ❤ ❤ ❤

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      4. You are such an encouragement to me Sue. Thanks for sticking with me through the early blogging years 😉
        I guess I often feel like I could do more, but at the same time have to deal with my child, husband, school, counselors etc that I feel like the Spirit is drowning inside me. Not sure if that makes all that much sense.
        Okay… keep His Sabbath… I’d love to do that. But I don’t actually believe that going to church is to “keep His sabbath” though it may be a part of it… But there’s more to it, right?
        Yeah… the “love Him and study His word part” I got down, but I think He is still working on me when it comes to the obedience. Don’t get me wrong – I want to, but it can be difficult to face up to a husband who’s not a believer still.
        My loved sister – wish I was with you in Jordan. Reading what you are doing there makes my heart beat faster.

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      5. It can be overwhelming, can’t it? Life clamors to the point that it drowns out the voice of the Spirit. When that happens, we lose direction. I guess that’s one of the reasons I enjoy keeping His Sabbaths so much – a whole day of quiet study and some worship and fellowship with no interruptions (or with kids, some interruptions)! What a blessing! But yes, there is much more to it than going to church. Rather than taking up your blog space, may I send you an email?

        I wish you were here, too – you would love it as much as I do, I’m sure 🙂
        My favorite part is being with people who want to worship and talk about the Lord all the time. We spent a long time having to be isolated from other believers – so sweet to be able to meet several times a week now.

        Don’t lose heart or question your contributions, precious Lene. Yeshua is both the Author and the FINISHER of our faith (Heb 12:2) – and we all still have a long way to go!! 🙂 Our joy is knowing that He is fully capable and fully intends to finish us up with a fine polish! Praise Him!!

        Love you!! ❤

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  3. Thank you for sharing your story and being transparent about your mother’s passing. Looks as if God is doing something new in you and the generations to follow; birthing a beautiful ministry from pain. He is so good!

    I realize this is an older post, but I wanted to also thank you for the closing scripture, which was a confirmation for me. God is using you in great ways. I look forward to reading more of your posts. Cheers & Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your thoughts here. I’m happy the scripture confirmed something for you too. It’s encouraging for me to know the Lord is using me… Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you’ll stick around ❤️

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  6. leneijapan

    Received from http://10seventeen.wordpress.com faithcomesfromhearing:
    Thanks for dropping by my site and reading my, rather inappropriately time, post on smiling. Especially in the light of this post about your mother.

    But you are right, we all have hurts and pains. We deal with them, and then we leave them at Jesus’ feet. It’s sad that your mother wasn’t a believer when she passed on, but God can use even a tragedy like that for His kingdom. Your sharing and testimony is an incredible comfort to others going through a similar ordeal.

    Maybe there is a reason to smile after all 🙂

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