Drum Roll, Please

Now comes Secrets Revisited, my second nonfiction book. This came about because of surfacing memories while writing Before the Door Closes. I revisited and relived those memories one by one. As I did, my lifelong belief that God is omnipresent held fast. But something else came to light.

God is more personal than Someone who is simply there. He is also the God who always sees, always knows, and always understands—El Roi. I am never all alone. El Roi met me in my circumstances as the oldest child of an alcoholic.

I chose thirty-six of those memories to become vignettes in Secrets Revisited. Today I share with you Secret 33, “Healing Grief”:

My soul weeps because of grief;
Strengthen me according to Your word.
Psalm 119:28 (NASB)

Planning our trip, I had thought I would be glad when we stopped at Palo Duro Canyon State Park in the heart of the Texas Panhandle. I was looking forward to seeing Paul Green’s musical Texas. But waiting beside my husband in the amphitheater for the pageant’s start, I wished I were back home.

The three-week vacation would be over, my husband would be at work, and I would be alone in our house. Then I could resume what I had been doing for months since my mother’s death. Sink into the arms of sorrow and sob until, clutching my sore stomach, I’d scream, “When will I get over this?”

My mourning encompassed more than missing Mama. I grieved for her hard life because of my father’s alcoholism. Reliving the memories, I’d see one painful scene after another.

The times I periodically knocked on doors and handed neighborhood ladies her note. I was too young to know what felt squishy inside a paper bag I took back to Mama. Later I felt the shame! Mama had to beg for a sanitary napkin!

Again I would see myself sitting scared stiff on the couch with my brothers. Our drunken father was beating Mama behind the locked bathroom door. Why?

I saw the day I asked Mama about the charred footboard on her bed. “That happened when your father set the bed on fire while I was sleeping.”

As my eyes followed singing dancers blithely sweeping across the canyon stage, my heart cried to be at home where I could vent my pent-up pain. Before the finale, though, I heard something that helped.

Lying delirious in his dugout, the character Calvin asked his dead mother’s forgiveness for her hardships. When he spoke of his father, she replied: “I loved your father. I helped him—all I could. I helped him. I loved my children and wonderful and bright the future for them. This was my joy.”

When Calvin was puzzled that his mother had described it as joy, she responded, “All I could give, I gave. That was my happiness. Don’t grieve, my son. Don’t grieve.”

Those words soothed my sorrow. For a while. Four months later the healing came.

It was the Sunday I joined a small prayer circle whose mission was to pray for the ongoing church service. Much to my surprise, I shared my grief with this group of strangers. As I had when alone in my house the past year, I ended, “When will I get over this?”

One of God’s nameless saints had the answer. “You will never get over it; you will get through it.”

Then my heart’s open sore closed.




I See You

She was pregnant and scared. If only she could get back to the place of her birth, she would be safe. Far from the abuse. From conflict’s slippery slope. So she ran away.

She never wanted to become a surrogate mother. But whatever happened to her had been and always would be at the whim of that bitter battleax. She owned her–body and soul. It was her idea that she become the secondary wife to that old husband of hers. Her way of getting what she wanted most in all the world. Mr. Abram didn’t have to go along with it, but he didn’t have the courage to tell his wife no.

Yes, she would be honest and admit she had brought some of this on herself. As soon as she had found out she was pregnant, she gloated. A smirk,  a dropped insult, a curled lip–all intended to send her mistress the message. She, a slave, could have something that the high-and-mighty Sarai could not. A baby.

How foolish was she to think she could get away with rubbing it in her face! Oh, Sarai knew how to make a life unbearable! So she was hightailing it back to Egypt. But now she would stop and rest at this spring for a while and put it all behind her.

That, however, was not to be. For Hagar had an encounter there that changed her plan. Someone met up with her in her distress.

But the Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, on the road to [Egypt by way of] Shur. And He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where did you come from and where are you going?” And she said, “I am running away from my mistress Sarai.” The Angel of the Lord said to her, “Go back to your mistress, and submit humbly to her authority.”
(Genesis 16:7-9 AMP)

Why would she do that? Because the One speaking to her saw her past, her present, and her future:

The Angel of the Lord continued,
“Behold, you are with child,
And you will bear a son;
And you shall name him Ishmael (God hears),
Because the Lord has heard and paid attention to your persecution (suffering).”
(Genesis 16:11 AMP)

When the encounter ended, Hagar spoke of this messenger as “El Roi.” El Roi is the name for God that means “God who sees.” The all-seeing God was looking after Hagar, watching out for her in her suffering.

The One who sees us is El Roi. He meets us in our place of desperation in order to reach out and help us. El Roi always sees, always knows, and always understands.