There are moments when I am desperate to feel my husband with me. I just need to know he’s with me. “Give me a sign!” I think. This deep longing is human nature I suppose, but it’s also potentially dangerous for me. During these times, I am extra vulnerable to deception and untruths, which aren’t from God.
For instance, when my husband first died, I would sob in the shower. It was the kind of cry that makes it hard to breathe. As I cried out with grief, I drew a heart on the fogged up mirror in the shower. Sometimes I wrote his name on the mirror. And then I’d wait, longing for a Demi Moore/Patrick Swayze “Ghost” moment to happen. I was longing to feel him with me.
I got over this fairly quickly, realizing he wasn’t going to be writing me back on the fogged up mirror. However, occasionally this feeling resurfaces. Maybe it’s a human desire of the broken-hearted to not want any of this to be real. Maybe it’s normal to desperately seek a sign, a symbol – something – anything to reassure myself that he wasn’t actually gone from me.
The way we comfort people grieving further complicates things. “He’s always with you.” “He’s looking out for you.” “You have a guardian angel now.” Is that really true? The Bible is vague on all of this really. I’m just not sure about it. I mean, I love the notion, but I believe He’s in heaven with God. And if he’s in heaven with God, wouldn’t being so intertwined with life on earth be a real bummer for him? And isn’t heaven supposed to be bummer-free? I don’t know. All I know is God didn’t give us nearly enough info on heaven. This frustrates me. Faith sometimes frustrates me. But I guess that’s what faith is, right? It’s trusting what we can’t see and in what we don’t know because we haven’t actually experienced it. It boils down to do I believe or do I not believe? (For the record, I believe. I just sometimes grumble because I’d like more information and all the answers, please).
Anyway, recently I hung a decoration on the wall. It fell off the wall four times when I wasn’t looking, yet every time I checked on it, the hook was still affixed to the wall. I closely examined this several times and could not figure out how this was happening! I started to allow my mind to trick me. For over an hour I wondered if it was my husband letting me know he’s here with me. Or maybe he was trying to warn me of something? I have to admit, I liked this idea. I wanted it to be true in the worst way. I wanted evidence he was still with me.
Upon further examination, I learned the cause of the falling wall décor. It wasn’t Mark, but rather gravity and physics causing the decor to fall. Debunked. (Yes, I admit I watch those shows sometimes). Talk about feeling duped by my own brain!
I know I’m not alone, based on the popularity of psychics, mediums and TV shows about the paranormal. But as a believer in Christ, I need to be careful. I mean I suppose it’s normal to soothe myself with the comforting reassurances we all say. I mean in grief, I think whatever works (within reason) to get through the moment, right? But in time, I’m going to need more than this. I’m going to need the real truth.
So I dig deep into the Bible because I know that’s where my truth lives. I sometimes have to work hard not only at grieving, but also at seeking truth. Because in my grief, I am sometimes so vulnerable to deception, I need to have the full armor on so when my mind tries to sway me away from truth I can stop myself from believing it.
Deuteronomy 18:9-12 (MSG)
9-12 When you enter the land that God, your God, is giving you, don’t take on the abominable ways of life of the nations there. Don’t you dare sacrifice your son or daughter in the fire. Don’t practice divination, sorcery, fortunetelling, witchery, casting spells, holding séances, or channeling with the dead. People who do these things are an abomination to God. It’s because of just such abominable practices that God, your God, is driving these nations out before you.
I guess in the moments where I’m weak with grief and find myself wishing for a sign of some sort, I’m actually looking for help, comfort and reassurance. Except sometimes I’m looking in all the wrong places. You see, my help and comfort does not come from a decoration that has fallen from the wall. It doesn’t come from my husband, even if I believed he could actually communicate with me. My help, my comfort, my reassurance and my strength?….it comes from God alone.
When I beg for a sign, I’m actually longing for more faith. I’m seeking reassurance, comfort, peace and HOPE. These things don’t come from “signs,” they come from faith. I’d be better off praying for more of that instead of wishing my husband were a ghost or something. It’s almost embarrassing for me to admit I’ve done these things. Truthfully, I need to stop in these moments. Instead of asking for a sign, I need to pray, “help me overcome my unbelief!”
Mark 9:23-24 (NIV)
23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
So, does this mean that when I see a butterfly, a cardinal or a rainbow that it’s not actually a sign given directly to me by my husband? What about when the clock reads 12:04 (our anniversary) or 11:11 (make a wish?).
These occurrences are not husband. But when they happen they are blessed reminders. They remind me that GOD is with me. And He’s with me ALL THE TIME – not just when there’s a butterfly or when I lose an eyelash or find a penny on the sidewalk. These little “signs” remind me I’m not alone – that God is with me and that Mark is with God. Sometimes it’s just something that makes me pause and remember how much I loved my husband. They can be beautiful memory triggers as long as I’m not putting my hope in them.
I don’t believe my husband is now a butterfly or a bird and I don’t believe he is making things fall off the walls. I don’t believe he can speak to me through a psychic medium either. I believe he’s with God, and so that’s where I try to turn my thoughts. That’s whom I want to seek – especially when I’m desperate for “a sign.” My hope isn’t in a message from Mark. My hope is in Christ.
When I see a butterfly in my memory garden, you bet I’ll be thinking of Mark though. I’ll be thinking about what Heaven must be like. I’ll be thinking about the transformation from this life to eternal life and what it will be like when we’re together again. I’ll be thinking about hope and where mine comes from. And sometimes I’ll be doing all of that while bawling my eyes out. And that’s ok too.
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** Friends, we have EGR readers in Texas and Louisiana. They need our prayers and our help. It’s times like this I especially wish I had some sort of big empire so I could send lots of help in the form of money and necessary things. That’s not where I am, so I will pray. Will you join me in praying for our EGR-reading brothers & sisters affected by Hurricane Harvey? Thank you!!