Tag Archives: grief

Loss and Remembrance


Will these feelings swallow me whole,
Manage to drown my very soul?
Or will I find to my surprise
Somehow I don’t die inside?

How will I know when they have passed,
Left me here alone at last?
Will it be because I don’t remember
What you looked like last September?

Will I wake up and you won’t be,
That first sweet view in front of me?
And thought of you will not surround
My mind each evening as I lay down?

Copyright 2017. L.L. Shelton.

CNN and Other Stupidity

Tonight, as I rapidly walk the treadmill at our local Planet Fitness, I spy a headline from CNN (The self-proclaimed, Central News Network). The headline reads:  Church-goers Saved From the Tornado By the Grace of God.  (Did I fall asleep and wake up in the days of the new Constantine?)

I avoid the news at home because it tends to invigorate me to an unacceptable point.  Also, I am intentionally considerate of my younger children, who I am with nearly always, not wishing to subject them to a constant barrage of suggestions for how they should think about the current events.  I avoid channels allowing commercials for similar reasons.

But I don’t suppose it my right to suggest these same strategies to Planet Fitness to aid their fully adult, and hopefully engaged and thoughtful  patrons.

Now to the original intent of this post- exactly how is it that CNN knows the mind of God so very well? Did He drop in for a quick visit with Ted Turner and explain Himself?

Dear Families and Friends of the eight who were killed due to the storm, please know that Our Bible states plainly that God rains on the just and the unjust and that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, His ways higher than our ways… please know that He is for every man, though He does specifically bless His saved children with eternal life and many other things.  Many choose to be an enemy of God, but God is the enemy of no man.

In truth, we have no idea why God spared those He spared and took those He took. So what? He is God and we are not.

Please accept the sympathy of this Jesus-loving, church-goer over your loss, and may God be with you to comfort and help you in your tremendous grief.

Copyright 2017.   L.L. Shelton.

Wishing and Hoping

(A letter to one of special relation)

I wish that we had known one another when you were not yet so low on the resources required to actively love the silly slip of a hurting displaced young woman, full of false bravado, to whom your son first introduced you.

I wish that we had known one another before the world had whipped you into submission.

I wish I could have known you when you could focus on the hope in a child’s laughter for more than an instant.

I wish I could have known you in the long ago spring, when you were excited about the baby chicks from Sears and Roebuck that would soon arrive in the mail and the other things that would be coming as a result.

I wish I could have known you before the ordinary disappointments of life with their inevitable pain had combined with the traumatic stress unique to your own circumstance to bring you so far down…

And yet I remember…

I remember moments, however fleeting, when you threw out a witty one-liner or gave an account of something truly humorous, and together we laughed so hard we nearly cried.

I remember occasions when we witnessed a heart-touching scene on the silver screen and you turned to me with tears in your eyes to see the same mist in mine and we acknowledged one another in quiet understanding.

I remember moments when you confided in me something sorrowful and allowed me for a brief time to be some solace to you.

I remember how I admired who you must have once been when I learned of some of the hardships of the child of a south Alabama sharecropper’s daughter; when I discovered that you had been truly grateful for school and had been a good student, and that following your high school graduation you had unflinchingly boarded a bus for the city, with a watch and a few dollars to enter nursing school and make your own way in the world.

I remember how it tickled me when you so candidly related the story of your first date with your eventual husband, when you told how you asked him to let you out at a stranger’s doorstep pretending all the while it was your own, as you were sure he would not ask you out on a second date if he saw your actual humble dwelling; and how you, with even greater transparency, related being finally engaged and parking with your intended in front of the imposing sculpture of “Vulcan, The God of Fire.”

I remember learning of how you and your beau married before he finished school and so you worked while he completed his education, and I thought it was a courageous move, especially for the time.

I remember the common ground that we easily shared as “bargain hunters,” and the genuine excitement with which you would relate the tale of a particularly exciting find.

I remember how you appreciated showing me any new acquisitions, great or small, around the home you were continually building on the hill; how once as we stood in front of a lovely picture of an idyllic vista you said, almost as though speaking to yourself, “I’d love to go there someday,” and I was most amused as the picture was of nowhere specific- and then how one day, when your namesake was five, she stopped in front of a similar rendering and dreamily stated the very same.  In that moment, it occurred to me again that we live on- sometimes in spite of our best efforts to do otherwise.

I am often reminded of a particular gem in my back pocket, where I compliantly placed many at your instruction.  Some have proved most useful, and I thank you for them.

And yes, sadly I remember how you repeated to me several stories of traumatic memory over the years, the same recollections again and again, and I remember my ignorance.

I remember realizing your turmoil was great, yet the only help I could think to give was to remind you of Christ, of Scripture, and of the need for surrender and prayer.  (All wonderful and true things, but a man who is bleeding to death can rarely focus on them before his wounds are properly addressed.)

I remember the many things that clearly indicate that you were suffering emotionally, uniquely and intensely, and that you were in need of greater understanding than I was able to give to you then.

I hope that somehow in your life now you can know that I grieve for you, and that I recognize how very much was lost to all of us.

I hope that somehow in your life now, you can realize that you were a large part of my motivation to seek the specific education I did, allowing me to practice as a counselor to others who are emotionally damaged, and I hope that it makes you glad.

And I hope somewhere, somehow, you know I have forgiven you your harsh moments, as I hope you have forgiven my offenses, and I want you to know that I loved you and I still do.

Copyright 2017.  L.L.  Shelton.

Carry On

A bit of testimony for those of you who are acquainted with trial:

In two thousand nine, I was purposefully tending to my tasks, meeting the day to day challenges sometimes with nothing short of what seemed to me a herculean effort- and managing (for the most part) to do so cheerfully, when “stuff” happened in my personal life that threatened to derail me.

Contrary to popular teachings of church culture, a healthy person rarely forgets, so we must learn to forgive ourselves and others anyway, and expect that past troubles may never be completely finished- in this lifetime.

Therefore, my new stuff piled on top of the old stuff and I began to unravel. The junk threatened to rip out every carefully managed seam. But as my eldest son is fond of reminding me, I am undaunted; and as I am accustomed to doing, I began to cautiously and with as much care, re-ravel.

It seemed a wonder in the beginning that each time I repaired and pieced together a part of my self, a new force (often from a direction I may have never anticipated) popped up, sometimes with true vigor, and made the attempt to rip out my pain-staking work. Oh how I hate being forced to start over…

As a girl I loved to play Monopoly. It was by far my favorite. The game of Life was the only one to run it a close second. A unique aspect of Life was that you could collect children along the way and I thought that the grandest aspect of any game. By the time I was twelve, Baby Island had been my favorite book for awhile, and in fact not even my fifteen- year-old competitors were offered a babysitting gig in my neighborhood unless I had first turned it down. So I spent some time trying to figure a way to incorporate this characteristic play into Monopoly.

These things aside, Monopoly continued to rule from my point of view, and I would do everything short of agreeing to watch my somewhat younger brother set fire to something to entice him into a game. Please, please, please… and to keep him from quitting when we had been hard at it for two days and I owned everything but his skin, I would come up with a million new lending schemes to keep him struggling along.

But though I stood the undisputed Monopoly-loving champion of Branderham Drive, there was something even I despised about the game. I sometimes felt the game creators designed the aspect especially for me. That thing I abhorred in the game, was to be told to return to start. One measly flip of the dice… Go back to the beginning. Do not pass go. Do not collect two hundred dollars. No! No! No! I would reel inside my head, sometimes and probably much to my brother’s chagrin- outside my head.

Maybe I could somehow cheat my way out of this disastrous death to my plans for this turn? After all, going to jail beat the deal hands-down, as first-of-all in any fair society one is there because justice is being served. Certainly not due to circumstances seemingly completely out of one’s control! And there was always the chance one would roll his way out before wasting as much time and distance, and more often than not I seemed to have the fortuitous likelihood of shaking and rattling my way to free parking from there, where our cousins had taught us to keep a five hundred dollar bill waiting for the lucky lander…

But it wasn’t to be, as even then I was insistent on rigorous honesty, feeling certain that the glory of winning at the expense of my integrity was only another way of losing- albeit often carefully veiled. (It is appropriate for me to introduce here the truth that I had no concept of doing anything purely for the Glory of God at this stage of my life- lest we are tempted to give me too much credit for my perspective.)

All this to illustrate, I am putting it mildly when I tell you that this nearly continual necessary re-working of seams has brought me near to exhaustion.

Yet through it all, God Himself did not weary. Many times I confidently told Him that I was sure I couldn’t finish the race- that beyond a doubt I would not finish well, and every time He was there to remind me that I could and I would, but only because I belong to Him and He has my back… And that what I know to be true concerning Him and yet can not see, I should and must trust.

This particular season of accumulating personal loss has not concluded, and maybe it never will… even still I know that I am not to be undone, because I am no longer all there is to me. I may be wounded and I may forever bear the scars of grief but I will not be crushed because God through the death and the life of a part of Himself, his Son, Jesus Christ, has favored me as His own child.

This privileged ownership means also, that today is not all there is, and today will never be all there is… so I will keep mending and reworking those seams by the Grace of God. And I will keep longing for and hoping for and working for tomorrow. And I will continue to pray that by His Grace my brothers and sisters also will retain this very real hope and that it will remain alive and burning in our souls!

Copyright 2017. L. L. Shelton.

Beyond Reach

There are stars in the sky
Much too high for us to climb,
Do you know why?

There are diamonds in the ground
Much too deep for us to find,
Do you know why?

There are bright rays dancing ’round
Move too fast for us to grasp,
Do you know why?

There are fragrances so sweet
Yet not meant for us to eat,
Do you know why?

Then settle down and rest with me
As contentment must be
Our destiny.

Copyright 2017. L.L. Shelton.