This morning, Pat and I are heading down to the beach for a few days. We’ve been keeping a watchful eye on Hurricane Matthew, but it looks like he is going to stay away from the Delaware coast. Whew!
We will encounter a dramatic-looking ocean for a day or two, though. There is nothing like whipped-up, white-capped waves! Since I will be just looking and not swimming, I’m actually looking forward to it.
When we took our trip to Bethany Beach last year, I wasn’t really looking forward to anything. In the months that led up to our little get-away, both my mother and my best friend Marylou had died within a short time of each other. Their deaths were sudden and shattering. The spring and summer of 2015 were a blur and, by the time October came, all I wanted to do was just sit on a balcony and look at the waves.
It ended up being a nice trip but, looking back, I remember how grief pressed on me. I felt it physically — as if my heart was literally broken in two.
What a difference a year makes.
Last October I was deeply sad, suffering from the trauma of losing two of the most important people in my life. I wasn’t looking forward at all. The thought of life going on without them hurt. It wasn’t time.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us:
To everything there is a season. A time for every purpose under heaven.
Last year was a time to mourn. It was a time to look back and a time to look inward.
It was a time to gather. I gathered together my precious memories and as much hope as I could hang on to – but I needed help.
A few weeks before our trip to the ocean, I made the decision to go for counseling. It wasn’t the first time I’ve sat in a counselor’s chair and I am sure it won’t be the last. The losses were hard to bear and my mother’s absence stirred up other brokenness that I knew needed attending to once and for all. It was time.
We often think it’s weak to tend to our mental well-being – but in my experience it is one of the bravest things we can do. We cannot do it all ourselves. Our loving God provides gifted and skilled counselors to help us.
They are our beloved guides who safely take us to places of revelation within our life story. They are empathetic and encouraging truth tellers – the light shines in and then we place it all before the Father for healing.
As I learned in college – psychology reveals, but Jesus heals.
Upon my first visit to her office, a carved wooden bowl of beautiful hand painted stones was sitting on a table. A sign indicated that anyone could pick up a stone, hold it and take it with them.
The first one I picked up had the words ‘Be Brave’ painted on it. I brought it home and placed it on my desk. It would remind me to have courage to move through the grief and pain that were laid bare in her office each week.
Over the months that followed, I gathered more stones with different words on them. I placed them around my home office along with scriptures and prayers.
It was a time of looking back, looking inside and, quite honestly, grieving over more losses than only my mom and Marylou. It was a time of discovery and of painful truth.
Each week we met and together worked our way down the healing path. She led the way and I followed. It took longer than I expected, but one day something happened – I began to lift my head.
My eyes had been in a downward gaze for so long. Pain pushes us into that posture. But, as the light took over more and more of the darkness, I began to look up and out. My gaze moved outward and away from myself.
I felt so much better. The heaviness that had been pressing down lifted too. The season was changing and I was on the mend.
What a difference a year makes!
Not too long after, I realized I didn’t need the stones anymore. The time to gather had passed and so… I began to give them away.
I gave the ‘Peace’ stone to Marylou’s husband.
As my youngest son was leaving for an internship far from home, I slipped the ‘Be Brave’ stone in his hand.
And then to others. One by one, I gave them all away.
There is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.
A time to mourn
A time to seek answers
A time to accept
A time to heal
And then … He takes our chin in His hand and gently lifts our head. Our perspective changes and we notice that it’s time to give the hope away to someone else.
But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. — Psalm 3:3
22 thoughts on “Gathering Stones”
Oh, Laura~ what a beautiful, brave, encouraging and IMPORTANT post. Thank you for all that you do to help your fellow sojourners. LOVE YOU!
Cyndi — thanks always for the extreme encouragement. Love you. xo
Thank you Laura got your post. I love the idea of the words on the stones. It is a tangible reminder of things. I want to tuck that idea away for the future. We could do that!
Cheryl — I KNEW you would love the stones! xoxo
A very encouraging post for those who mourn. I love the stone idea. I see see you using it for one of your talks. Thanks for sharing your journey.
Denise –I thought the same thing. I might add it to Be Brave — I think it fits. 🙂
Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I am so grateful to be walking through my journey with such a wise, insightful, spirit-filled sister!
Thank you, Jeanne. Same to you my sister! xoxo
Thanks Laura, for the encouragement and the reminder, that grieving is a process. We each have our own individual pace of dealing with our losses. It is both a blessing and a testimony, that He is “the lifter of my head.”
Thank you also for sharing about going to counseling, and the help it has provided for you in your journey.
Thank you, Donna. It is true that we grieve at our own individual pace. Great point — and one I have learned over the past 18 months. xoxo
Laura- what a beautiful post! I’m so sorry for your loss, but look how God used what you learned, and you could pass it on.
Reminds me of this passage.
2 Corinthians 1:4 (NLT) “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
Julie – I was thinking of the same verse. It’s true that our healing is not only for us –it is for those who need His comfort and unconditional love. We can pass it on. xo
Thank you for sharing this beautiful post. I’m sorry for your losses and inspired by your grace. Makes me want to bring a sharpie to the beach and write random blessings on rocks and shells for strangers to find! God bless…
Thank you, Shelby. I love the idea of writing on the stone on the beach! xo
Oh, Laura … this is a beautiful testimony of God’s healing in your life. I love the stones you collected–and my heart squeezed when I read that you began giving them away. Rejoicing with you!
Dianne – thank you for rejoicing with me. Joy really does come in the morning. 🙂
Laura, This is so beautifully said and so important for each of us. So thankful the Lord walks with us in each of our seasons. Blessings and thank you so much for joining the Link Party at Counting My Blessings!
Deb – The longer I live the more I am in awe of His faithfulness in all seasons. Thanks for stopping by. xo
Laura, I’m so glad your are healing and able to share the comfort with which you were comforted!
Thank you Donna. xo
This is a beautiful story about your healing process, and I’m so glad you shared it with us at Grace & Truth. How well you’ve illustrated Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians, comforting others with the comfort you have received.
Jennifer –thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words.xo