Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1: 2-4
Four years ago this week, I lost my mother to cancer. I was a high school junior, with a “man’s man” of a father and two siblings nine and 19 years older than me. That experience immediately launched me from adolescence to young womanhood. How is that possible—forcefully adopting adulthood the day after your (bitter) Sweet Sixteenth birthday? On my own: impossible. With help: manageable.
I can’t put into words who my mother was. I attempted once to type out a description of her with extremely accurate words to do justice to her character, but no words seemed to go far enough. Because of either my lack of vocabulary, or the possibility that my mom’s character is nearly indescribable, I can safely say that there wasn’t another woman on earth like her. She was the glue to my family, and oddly enough, when glue is taken away from the object it is holding together, the object is no longer one, but many individual pieces.
Our family unit was broken.
As each of my family members grieved their own loss of her, the foundation of our own characters was shaken. Father lost his 43-year relationship with his sweetheart and half of himself; Brother lost his understanding of home and his children’s grandmother; Sister lost her confidante and mentor; I lost my life teacher and strongest encourager. We remained broken-hearted for ourselves, but we learned joy through the realization of our eternity with Christ.
God provides. I survey the events of the last four years almost every night as my head sinks into my pillow and discover the fingerprints of His hands in every situation. With each year, He further molds my heart into understanding grace and provision using people in my life as a teaching medium.
As the presence of my mother’s life and spirit dissipated from mine, God began to gently escort women after His own heart into my life. Godly women—women who had experienced hurt for themselves and turned to the Lord for strength—slowly began to appear to offer motherly advice, support, encouragement, and compassionate admonition to me. As a stubborn girl, with headstrong tendencies and feminine individualism, I was reluctant to accept any sort of help from anyone. I did not enjoy relying on another person to aid me when I felt perfectly capable of being self-reliant.
Oh, how I was wrong. I continually proved to be in need of advisement and grace. In a stern conversation from one of these women, she said to me that the Bible orders us to help one another when we are in need. We are the body of Christ—we are to look after each other and offer what we have to someone who needs it, whether they know it or not and we are to accept that help. After that memorable conversation, my hardened heart towards allowing people to help me began to slowly soften. Even after four years of God continually teaching me this important idea, I am still frequently hesitant to accept assistance from anyone, but remembering the fact that the body of Christ is a unit, a family, it steadily becomes more acceptable in my mind. In the moment, I am humbled. Looking back over the situation, I am thankful—thankful that God was so invested in me to use His people to teach me how the body of Christ operates.
Learning how to accept aid from caring women is one of the most important concepts I have learned through my mother’s death, proving the provision of the Lord through the trials of human life. I recently heard a sermon from an unfamiliar pastor who said that as God provides trials to draw you nearer to Him, He will also provide every sort of means to make it through. That is the story of my life—as God provides trials, he also provides a way through so that we are closer to Him, and able to communicate His grace through our experiences.
“When I’m worried, and I can’t sleep,
I count my blessings instead of sheep,
And I fall asleep counting my blessings.”
–Irving Berlin, White Christmas