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.