Chapter 16 of Max Lucado’s Traveling Light
The Burden of Envy
My cup overflows with blessings. – Psalm 23:5 NLT
In this chapter Lucado writes a little about envy, the measure of our cup thrown in with a little grace and mercy. So as I began to formulate how I would speak to this as it plays out in a grieving parents life; I will start with envy and how it distorted my perception.
Shortly after my mother died I gave birth to my only child Brittany. I was so angry because my mother didn’t make it long enough to see her only daughter give birth. She died September 16th just 2-1/2 months before Brittany’s birth. I recall sitting in Brittany’s nursery just rocking and rocking, my mind somewhere in a place that I couldn’t crawl out of. I was so very sad and so very mad at God.
In the months after Brittany’s birth I would be out with Brittany and I would see the new mothers with their mothers walking at the mall, or at a restaurant and the wave of jealousy would well up inside me. I would cry uncontrollably because my mom was not with me and I envied them. I would think “they don’t know how lucky they are to have their mother”. Sometimes I would hear the young mothers getting angry because their mother was telling them what to do and all I wanted was for my mamma to be there to tell me what to do. I just wanted to scream at them “you don’t know how lucky you are to have your mom with you” – but I didn’t, I just held it all in.
Little did I know that 17 1/2 years later I’d lose my daughter and the pain would come rushing back like I’d just lost my mom and my daughter all at once. I needed my mother more than ever when Brittany died. Yet she was gone too. Both too soon. God chose to take them, and it took a huge measure of faith to believe there was a reason that I might never know, but could have peace with. Just like the early months after my mom died, I again found myself feeling envious of my friends whose daughters were Brittany’s age and they were experiencing all the wonderful things like prom, homecoming, etc. and I was left with nothing.
The pain and emptiness was simply unbearable. I really don’t think anyone ever really understood what I was going through. I stayed at home and never really went out because when I did I saw moms and daughters together and my heart would break all over again. Over and over and over again. And sometimes I would hear moms complaining about their daughters and I would just want to again, scream – ” you are so lucky you still have your daughter”. It made me crazy.
These days I don’t find myself experiencing those feelings much, on a rare occasion, when I get a hug from a dear friend who had a perfume much like my moms I get a little teary eyed because that smell brings back such great memories of being hugged by my mom. A feeling that has been absent from my life for over 22 years. How crappy is that? There is nothing like the love of a mother. The hug that makes everything alright. And that was robbed from at a critical time in my life. My best friend gone. I was so angry with God.
So you can imagine when Brittany died, I struggled with why, how, what possible purpose was it that God felt He needed her more than me. You have to understand that my daughter was everything to me. As I sit here writing this, tears streaming down my face, I am still so very sad at the emptiness in my heart that has been left by her absence. I try very hard to not be envious of my friends, my family anybody that has a daughter. I try very hard to see that even in the midst of my horrendous grief, I can see God’s mercy. To see His grace given to me to comfort me even when I feel so terrible. When my heart hurts and the pain is unbearable I can still see that God loves me and that he wants to bestow his grace and mercy on my life. To fill up that cup so it runneth over.
It’s a daily process my friends to keep moving forward and it begins with gratitude. In a recent leadership summit at my church I heard a speaker say “make a list of what you are grateful for and don’t stop until you get to 100 things” – I’m thinking wow how tough will that be. Although it seems to be a daunting task to list more than 100 things, I will say that when I do stop and see what great things he had done for me these past few years, I cannot help but believe that, although the pain in my heart is hard to bear, the love God bestows me daily takes away the sting.
Lucado ends this chapter with a message that reminds us that we need to keep our cups extended out and to believe and not worry that he will continue to keep them full and overflowing.
Until next time,