Four beautiful children, ages 7, 5, 4, and 2. One 9-year-old small dog, who slept inside. One outside lazy cat, who occasionally earned his keep by catching a mouse. One hamster, whom my husband called “The Mouse,” slept all day and ran on his wheel all night. A tired Daddy & exhausted Mama who made it all work.
That described my family one month ago.
Then, suddenly it all changed.
Our cat disappeared. I grew up with cats. I know that tomcats tend to leave. Not all, but it happens. We’d missed Charlie a day at a time, but when he was gone for five days straight, we figured he was just gone. He didn’t leave a note, so we have no idea. Maybe he didn’t like his accommodations in the garage. Maybe he turned all cat and just said, “I’m done with you, humans.” We’ll never know.
Then our hamster stopped moving. My son and I had just changed the bedding of the cage a day or two before. But for some reason, he just quit. Maybe he didn’t like his vegetables we fed him. This is not a good lesson for teaching kids to eat well.
Then, the biggest tragedy: our dog was hit by a truck. He shouldn’t have been outside. I was looking for him, not knowing he’d snuck out when one of the kids opened the door. I have shed so many tears over the loss of my dog. My kids have as well. I miss him so much, because he was with us all the time. (I’m a stay at home mom, so our dog did everything with us – all day, every day.) Suddenly, he was gone.
I’m not looking for sympathy here. Stay with me, I do have a point to all this, which I will get to quickly.
Guilt burdened me. I felt like my mistake caused heartache and pain in my family (husband and four kids). I felt the heaviness of it on my heart and mind. I kept re-thinking all the things I could have done differently to prevent the tragedy and heartbreak that followed. “I should have…” “If only…” “I wish I would have…”
My husband kept assuring me that there was nothing I could have done. It was an accident.
That night, up late and unable to sleep, I prayed. I opened a devotion that I haven’t kept up with but felt I should read that night. I’ve been doing other studies, so I’d fallen behind in my daily reading of this particular book.
The book was “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. The first line of the devotion for that day said, “Don’t be so hard on yourself.” Tears surfaced as I read. Jesus was speaking directly to my guilt and ache in that moment.
This was my facebook post:
I was floundering in the past. That was the best description of where I was in my mind. With all my heart, I wanted to change what happened. I couldn’t. But, I just wanted to un-do what had been done.
In that moment, it felt like God grabbed my hand and pulled me through. It was like He said, “Keep walking forward. I’ve got you.”
I didn’t want a post about the tragedy that we’ve walked through. I don’t want sympathy for our loss. I’m not seeking attention for the heartbreak. That’s not the point.
My point is this: God is always with us. (Read Psalm 139 for proof.) He cares about our hearts. He has plans for us. It’s right there in the verse in Romans (above) that He has a purpose for us. (Okay, go read it now, since you skipped it the first time.) I’m not saying we shouldn’t be sad. We can allow ourselves feel the sorrow of events, but we can’t let them stop us. We can’t just flounder and wish we could change the past. Mistakes are made, but God said He can use everything for His good. I have to trust that and keep walking with Him.
My 2-year-old asks often, “Where’s my Roscoe?” I answer, “He’s with Jesus, sweetie.” Her eyes light up and she says, “Oh! In my heart!”
I smile at her every time, joy reaching to the ache in my heart, and I say, “Yes, sweetie. Exactly.”
And isn’t that the point?