A look back, 2 years later.



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dani_Snapseed
I think I’ve already established that I’m the worst blogger in the world. I’m inconsistent, I over promise, and lie to myself weekly that I’m going to blog more frequently. Today, I’m giving up the lies and admitting that (at best) I’ll blog sporadically. Still, I do hope that what I actually write is potent and worth your 5 minutes away from Facebook.

So here goes, I’m doing a look back at these last couple of years of being widowed. 2 years ago was a big day in my life, one that I’ll always remember. It started with a trip to the hospital with my wife Danielle, one that I’d taken dozens of times before. That morning was different though, because instead of walking in gingerly holding hands, I ran into the Emergency Room with my lifeless wife dangling in my arms screaming for help. She had stage 4 primary cardiac angiosarcoma, and it finally caught up with her, despite her valiant and gracious battle against it. That morning, as soon as we pulled up to the E.R. doors, she stopped breathing. For the next several minutes, I watched the ER team strip her clothes with scissors and defibrillate her heart back into beating. Without a doubt, it’s the worst sight I’ve ever seen.

If I could describe the weeks and months leading up to that nightmarish morning, I would say that it most resembled hell on earth. The persistent hum and rumble of her oxygen machine was the soundtrack for the movie of my life and I watched her deteriorate from a gorgeous, courageous woman, to an emaciated shell that didn’t have the energy to be awake for more than 10 minutes at a time.

I was furious. I was scared as hell. In between the momentary lapses between experiencing my worst nightmare, I would muster up enough faith to pray, or think about God and I wondered how this crushing would shape me. Would I despise God? I thought I had every right to. He gave me the front row seat to watch my Dani die and I reasoned that my only chance at retribution was to hate Him until I died.

Now, why am I reliving all of this? This isn’t a therapeutic endeavor for me, trust me, I’ve spent enough hours laying on my therapist’s couch, with tears streaming down my cheeks into my mouth as I laid there, fighting to speak, fighting to grasp what happened. And in time, those sessions, combined with a lot of great family and friends and have been a salve to my wounds.

I’m on the other side of grief, this is a scar, not a scab. If you’ve hung out with me in person you would know how content and happy I am. And that’s not a front, I really am. The point of what I just wrote wasn’t to evoke sympathy from you, but to legitimize what I’m about to say. None of my assertions come from a book I read, just simply from what I’ve experienced first hand, and know to be true.

Most people live their lives and their sole purpose is to be happy. That’s an empty pursuit. I’d actually attribute the shallowness of American thought to our over-pursuit of happiness, and our valuing it as the ultimate pursuit. Your decisions, conversations, fears, pursuits, ambitions, friends, relationships and everything else that fills your life are mostly aimed at making you happy. But suffering doesn’t make you happy…at all. So when things go wrong, you’ll immediately (as I did) dismiss the suffering as something out of place, something that we want over as quickly as possible so that we can return to our pursuit of happiness, what we think is our purpose. That my friends, is a waste. God uses our pain as a part of His plan, and nothing in His hands goes to waste.

I’m not saying anything is wrong with being happy, or wanting to be happy. As I said earlier, I wake up every morning happy and I hope every day from here on out is spent smiling and laughing. But make no mistake about it, suffering (if from God), is a gift. Equally true, happiness, if not from God is a curse. I know that sounds insane, and you might want to stop reading, but I urge you to hear me out.

When we hear about things like the terrorist attack in Boston, the explosion in West, Texas, or a story about an 8 year old dying of a brain tumor, our tendency is to believe that there’s nothing good that can come out of that. And while none of those things are good at any level, God can and does use horrendous things for our good.

There’s a scripture that I had been thinking about that on the surface doesn’t say too much, but tells us a lot.

“the disciple whom Jesus loved” John 21:7

Here, the bible is referring to John the Evangelist. You may doubt whether God loves you, but it’s clear that the Apostle John, author of the gospel of John and the Book of Revelations was someone that Jesus loved. No doubt about it, God loved this dude. So, a look at his life is an example of what God loving us can look like.

Well, he suffered along with the early church, lost a lot of friends and family presumably watching them be eaten by lions and/or burned. To top it off, he was eventually boiled (alive) and then exiled. I repeat, he was boiled alive and exiled. Not the happiest life, but that’s not what God is after for you or for me. God’s love for you won’t ever prevent suffering. If God loved John, and he got boiled alive, we can’t assume to know what God loving us looks like..

I know a lot of people and have many friends that can’t believe in God at all because of suffering. It is oftentimes the hurdle to believing, and I think that’s because many people believe the goal of life is to be happy. I’d say that the Apostle John, or any other Christian that suffered at the hands of God wouldn’t agree with that, they’d say the opposite. They’d say, as I’m saying to you now that the pursuit of God and the pursuit of happiness, while not mutually exclusive, are not the same. Even more importantly, our entire purpose of being here, the only thing that will fill us is God, and knowing Him makes all things garbage in comparison.

Here’s a couple things I’ve learned in 2 years of being widowed that I wouldn’t trade for the world:
1. There’s no clearer moment in this world than when it’s just you and God.
2. God really won’t ever leave or forsake His people. Seriously. Even when I wanted to punch Jesus in the face, God was faithful to me, and walked with me every step of the way through the present.
3. God likes you. He’s not out to get you.
4. Suffering situations are the ripest soils to grow to know God better.
5. Suffering situations are the ripest soils for you to get to know yourself, your true self better.
6. God loves people that hate him. Angry prayers prayed through tears, yelling and frustrations might be the purest prayers you’ve prayed, or will pray.
7. Though painful, God never acts arbitrarily. If there’s a God, and I believe there is, than He’s infinitely more wise than us.
8. We live for God, not the other way around.
9. Knowing God is the ultimate satisfaction, fulfillment, happiness and purpose of all of our lives.
10. I don’t have a #10, but 9 things seemed weird.

Leave a reply

19 Responses to “A look back, 2 years later.”

  1. Sharif Washington says:

    You are the best “worst blogger” I know. I wish you would blog more frequently. I guess I will accept the sporadic blogs…Better than nothing. Thank you for this brother. R.I.P. Danielle. GOD bless always.

  2. Sharif Washington says:

    P.S. Yeah 9 things would’ve been super weird.

  3. Carla Taylor says:

    Jordan,

    Thank you! I am so encouraged by what God has given you to write! His purpose for Danny going home to Him was to allow you to bring others to Him. I have no doubt that anyone who is lost and is reading this will be changed. Thank you again!

    Carla

  4. Brian J. Kern says:

    Jordan,

    I just had the privilege of meeting you this past Sunday as I was visiting my son Matt at Forefront. This blog you posted was so inspiring and so transparent it took my breath away. I have been a counselor for 23 years, three of those as a Grief/Bereavement counselor, and I have never heard anyone articulate the”Journey of Grief” as well as you have here. Thank you my brother in Christ for the blessing you are and will be to many others who are already on or will be on this same road. Losing my only sibling to disease when I was 15 was a life-changing event for me and taught me a great deal about how to not grieve and mourn, and that God can handle my anger that’s directed at Him.
    Keep it real,
    Brian

    • Jordan says:

      Brian, thanks a lot for this! Really great to have met you last week also. I’m sure you’ve seen the gamut of emotions being a counselor, so your perspective means a lot!

  5. Brittan says:

    This is a very powerful piece — I wish I could meet you in person and thank you for sharing it.

  6. Beverly says:

    Your friend, Justin Jones-Fosu, participated in my employer’s professional development series today as a keynote speaker with an inspirational, interactive and entertaining address. He closed his presentation by speaking of your wife’s positivity through her adversity. While browsing the web researching Justin’s background and the rare cancer your wife suffered from, I stumbled upon your blog.

    While you claim to be the worst blogger in the world, I have found that you have stated so many things that resonate so strongly within me. From Justin’s presentation, I determined that I classify FAITH as my number one core value. But I feel as though I have abandoned my FAITH too many times as I have struggled with losing my dear mother and trying to figure out who I am in this world and what truly matters. Justin actually stated that while we claim to have certain core values, we do not necessarily live our lives accordingly. FAITH and the grace of Father God have allowed me to live this life but in my toughest era I have had moments of wavering FAITH. My mantra is that by the grace of Father God anything is possible. His grace led me to your inspirational blog which has inspired me to have some more one-on-one conversations with Him because of your strength.

    Father God is working through you and Danielle today because I would not have discovered your words if Justin hadn’t told your story…powerful…

  7. Kim Lewis says:

    I just want to say thank you Jordan for having the time and strength to write this. When my mother, (Valerie Murray) died, a part of me died with her. I not only lost my mother, I lost my best friend. I was, at first, very sad and then became angry with God. How could He take someone who lived life doing His work? How could God take someone who prayed and read their bible every day and encouraged everyone around them to do the same? How could God take her and she was actively serving Him, worshipping Him, spreading His goodness to whomever would listen? How could He take her and she lived life through His eyes, even on her death bed? How could He take her from us and there was so much left to do? How could he take an angel on earth and there are “good for nothing knuckle heads” living full lives. How could He let one of his soldiers suffer the way she suffered from breast cancer until her body couldn’t take it anymore and she deteriorated right before our eyes? I just couldn’t grasp it and said, “why bother?” Why live life like my mother to suffer in the end with no remorse of all your good works? It was not fair to me and still isn’t. Not a day goes by that I don’t cry for her, talk to her, wear a piece of her jewelry, or put an old shirt of hers to my noes to smell her scent. People tell me it gets easier, I know one day it will, but right now I don’t foresee it. I am not angry anymore. I know we all must die and I was blessed to have had her for almost 43 years. I know God is good because He gives me the strength to get through each day. He put such a support group of people and family in my life and mostly, nothing was left unsaid. She knew every day how much I loved and appreciated her and I always told and showed her and vice versa. Even though my heart aches for her, I thank God for giving me an amazing woman, Valerie Murray, to play my mother and he didn’t have to. I know one day, this weight in my heart will get a little lighter because Christians like you give me hope. Dani was a beautiful woman and how blessed you both were to have your paths cross.

    Thank you again and God Bless You,
    Kim

    • Jordan says:

      Kim, your mother was amazing. (Both of your parents are). Really 2 of my favorite people in this world and it really makes no sense why God would allow her to suffer and pass away. But we may never know why, but we can know that God is working in your life, your family’s life and ha worked through your mother.

      Stay strong my sister.

  8. Larry says:

    Jordan: As usual, when you put pen to paper you continue to show evidence that God is growing you and as I’ve continued to say, creating the best kind of servant-leader…a fearless one. Didn’t know about the anniversary, just found myself looking at some pictures I had taken of you and Danielle during your tenure as Youth leaders. It is a blessing to be able to think of good times without having to also remember the bad times. So glad that you serve a God that is abl eto give you life and that more abundantly.

  9. PJ says:

    Awesome, wise, true, and profound.

  10. Rev. Margaret says:

    Thanks so much Jordan for summing up a thought in a powerful way. I truly miss Danielle and each day I pulled down my sunvisior and I am greeted with her smile. God bless you and I know Greater IS Coming! Much love Son.

  11. Stelle Sam says:

    You’re amaze. Tis all.

  12. Bre says:

    Hey

    I saw your story on Yahoo and I wanted to send you some encouragement. Firstly, you remind me alot of myself. Im not a widower but I have truly expereinced loss and rejection. Im only 22 and I have a 6 year old son who was conceived through rape when I was only 15 years old. I grew up in foster care after my mother died when I was only 6 and I had no help from anyone. I never met my father and my foster parents werent really there for me other. I have been homeless and stayed in a shelter afraid and upset at God. However, I have always tried to keep a relationship with Christ. No matter how alone I feel or how much I questioned why me, I always held on. Now, I still dont have family but I have fallen deeply in love with God. I have learned that he is the only one who can fill those voids. He has a serious desire to be with us and to use us. I have also learned that my life isnt about me, and im happier knowing that now. I have dersires to marry but things seem complicated. Anyway your story inspired me more than you’ll know. Im going to go after the lost in this world and love them like crazy, Im gonna sing as much as I can and I wont stop.. ever. Im gonna teach the gospel and make show all that Jesus is crazy in love with them.

    Thanks for your courage and your FAITH. Im glad that Jesus saw that need and met it for you as he does for all of us. I pray that you grow even closer to him and that he remains the center of all you do. Sorry for writing a book on your blog lol God Bless and Congrats on your marriage.

    Bre

  13. Ramya Kingston says:

    Hi Jordan,
    I came to know abt ur blog through Yahoo’s post.. this post is very inspiring and I really thank God for making you to write this.. MY best wishes to your new family 🙂

  14. Dee says:

    Jordan,
    I became aware of your blogs from my best friend. Well, actually, she forwarded me the clip of you and your lovely new wife that was shown on ABC News (widowed in their 20s). I am a widow. My husband died of complications related to a bone marrow transplant for leukemia a little over 3 years ago. At the time I was 30 and he was 31. We had been together for nearly 10 years total but married for 23 months with a 1 year old daughter at the time. I’ve only read one blog entry thus far but I am eager to read the rest as well as what your wife has blogged. So far I have to admit that I enjoy the realness and rawness of your writing. It’s so hard to translate our loss to one who has not experienced it. You never imagine losing your spouse at such a young age. Keep up the great works and God bless!

  • When Life Is Unpredictable - Real Married Life — October 2, 2013 @ 11:46 pm

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