Originally posted on June 12, 2009…
Tonight my friend, Dawn Marshall from Marshall Photography met with my other friend, Toni (and me) to do a photo shoot for our Walking With You Pregnancy, Infant, and Child Loss Support Group blog button. It had been a gray drizzly day, raining lightly off and on. When the time came for our little shoot, it started to pour buckets of rain.
Of course it did. At first I thought, what is going on? What a disappointment that the rain would increase in strength as we met to take pictures. I heard thunder rumbling as we huddled under our umbrellas (which incidentally each had their own unique imperfections: mine had pokey things sticking out, Dawn’s had a big hole in it, and Toni’s was lopsided. And, yes, I’m sure there are metaphors in that observation.), while I apologized profusely. The children of these two sweet mamas huddled together in their vehicles as the ran splattered down the sides and into the waiting mud puddles.
The rain poured. The thunder rumbled. And we walked in our cute shoes through the mud puddles into a dark alley that said Do Not Enter, while we huddled and shivered under our umbrella, gingerly navigating our steps to avoid more serious potholes. And, it struck me. The beauty of it. The realization that our God was still in control even as the rain poured. It was no accident that the skies darkened and the rains came down. The mud puddles, the foreboding alley that Dawn had suggested as our location. No accident. My original idea was two friends walking down a lovely tree and flower-laden path. How inappropriate that would have been. How unlike the message that we really meant to send. How not representative of walking together through the stormy paths…through the dark sorrow of grief. Through the valleys. The point of what God has laid on our hearts is that we are willing to walk with you through those dark painful places…and not so much that we are willing as that our God is willing. He is willing to walk with us…and places that desire in our hearts to do the same.
And that walk, it’s no flower-laden path. It is a dark alley with old jagged concrete, filled with mud puddles and Do Not Enter Signs. Dark and foreboding…if we look with our human eyes. That walk is not for the faint of heart. It is the nitty gritty stuff of life and death, loss and hope, pain and healing, sorrow and joy. It is a bitter cup that one day becomes a soothing sweetness to your soul, but for a time breaks you into pieces. And, on that walk, it’s unpredictable. The rain pours. The tears flow. The mud rises. That’s what we see, at least.
Internally, the Lord is working. In the place we cannot see with our eyes, the heart is being shaped and mended, formed into a more beautiful instrument of love and grace than it was before we took that walk. Inside, our soul is being healed and filled up, even as the rains fall…even as we feel poured out and empty. When all we see are ashes, He sees the beauty that will come from them. When we behold the darkness before us, surrounding us, smothering us…He sees the light that He will shine in those dark places.
There are moments on that walk when we feel we cannot go on. Moments when a friend comes alongside us to point us again to the One who sustains us. A friend to lift us in prayer. A friend to allow us to lean on her as she leans on Him. A friend, who is not afraid to walk through the valley in the rain, with a storm mounting. She is not afraid, because the Lord is her strength and her shield. She is not afraid because she doesn’t walk alone.
And because He has walked with her through the valleys and the storms, He has sent her to walk with you. And He will carry you both through the rain, through the storm, through the unknown dark alleys to secure, dry ground.
Whether you are a newly bereaved mother or a seasoned mom who has watched the Lord make beauty from ashes in her life. Whether you need someone to lean on or you are the shoulder that can bear the burden, we hope you will walk with us as we are walking with Him. We hope you will join us with our broken umbrellas, with all our little quirks and imperfections in our various stages on this walk, as His grace washes over us in the pouring rain.
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