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.