Recently, I marked the anniversary of my mother's passing; Mom left me a little over three years ago. During these past three years, my grief and feelings for her have been bittersweet, to say the least.
In my younger years, Mom and I were very close and we enjoyed a wonderful relationship. She was my encourager and confider. She had the shoulder I would cry on, lap I would sit on, and a heart full of love for her daughter. However, as I grew up, our relationship changed into one of distance, selfishness, and competitiveness. As I cut the apron strings and began to spread my wings and fly on my own, my mom became resentful of the person I was becoming and the accomplishments I was making without her. She could not separate herself from me and desired that I not seek my independence. Her words and actions often left me hurt, confused, and trying to find ways to regain her love and approval.
As the years past, the distance grew between us. And, with the sudden passing of my father, we were thrust together in living arrangements as I tried to care for her as she struggled with Parkinson's disease. It devastated her emotional, physically and spiritually. The spiritual warfare was in full swing. My mom became increasingly bitter, resentful, and manipulative. She lied continuously, spent her money recklessly, and had hallucinations. Mom often accused my husband and I of stealing from her. Needless to say, I was devastated, heart broken, and constantly on my knees in prayer. We felt we were doing the right thing by caring for my mother as a widow. So little did I truly understand about what was taking place and it laid heavily upon my spirit.
In the midst of this scenario, my family and I were driving to church one day. We passed the community where we had lived before moving in with my mother. I gazed longingly at the hillside dotted with homes silently wishing things hadn't changed, that my dad hadn't died, that we hadn't moved and made some other decisions that we'd made in recent months.
It suddenly occurred to me (by no coincidence I'm certain) how wrong I was in thinking such thoughts! I was no better than Lot's wife as she gazed longingly at the city she was leaving behind rather than ahead at the path that God set before her and her family! Yes, the path was full of uncertainty as was mine. Yes, it was going to be a difficult journey as was mine. Nonetheless, God promised to be with her as He did me, that He would guide her and provide for her, and bless her as He would me. Did I truly believe Him or was I, too, going to turn into a pillar of salt?
I realized that, for many years, my mother had been 'existing' as a pillar of salt. She was pining for the past that she had left behind, for many things that 'should have been', and trying to regain what she had lost. Seeing her inward struggle and pain, I decided to seek His will more fervently desperately not wanting to look over my shoulder anymore. I plunged, head first, into the situation at hand taking my faith as my shield and my God as my strong tower. "The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe." - Prov 18:10
A pillar of salt can be:
- A past 'life', a part of your life that you cannot let go of yet it has somehow changed;
- A past sin for which you cannot forgive yourself;
- Unforgiveness in something that has happened in the past or toward someone that has wronged you;
- A longing for something that has never been a reality, an unfulfilled dream or expectation that keeps us from moving forward or hearing God's call and direction;
- Wanting a path of life that is not in line with God's will for you; or
- Refusing to acknowledge or accept God's power to work in and through you.
In essence, by ignoring His Word "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me" - Phil 4:13 you are resisting His power and may be misaligned with His will. Without this life experience and trial with my mother, difficult as it was, I would not be the 'new and slightly improved' version of myself. If I had chosen a path of regret, longing, anger and resistance rather than choosing to hear God's voice and follow His lead, I, too, would have become bitter and resentful as my mother had become. I would have been stuck not being able to move either forward or backward.
The experience has taught me to love those who don't necessarily 'deserve' to be loved as Christ has done and continues to do for us. My prayer life has improved immeasurably and I am mindful to look for the hand of God in all circumstances and in my surroundings. I trust Him with the outcome of most things (doubt occasionally creeps in and I have to go searching for my Godly armor) even when things seem darkest. I now look for the jewels while in the cave knowing His lessons, His wisdom and His blessings can be found anywhere at any time. I remind myself He has a good reason for EVERYTHING, not just some things, and is motivated by love. I pray continually to see others through His eyes, love others with His heart, and forgive as He forgives (even when I don't feel like it).
He has built His character in me through this tough experience in order to accomplish His purpose. He has brought me closer to Him and improved our relationship which He so desires and has increased my desire for Him as well. I have learned to redefine love in many, many ways. St. Teresa of Avila stated: "Unless they endeavor to understand and remedy their most miserable plight, their minds will become, as it were, bereft of movement, just as Lot's wife became a pillar of salt for looking backwards in disobedience to God's command."
And, yes, through my heartache, I have been blessed. I have come to know and draw closer to the Lord in a more intimate way. I treasure each day much more not wanting to waste any of God's precious time. I value relationships, both with my Creator and the people He has placed in my life, above all else. And, though I still dislike facing adversity, I look at those that come my way in anticipation of those teachable moments and for that inevitable silver lining in the dark cloud.
May we both continue to yield our hearts and surrender all of our lives to Him. And, may His will be done in my life and yours for the greater good and for His glory!