By LIBBO CROSSWHITE
Seeing God’s goodness in the midst of grief
I’ve been reminded during the last few months how much I rely on stories for healing. Stories to make me laugh and many that bring me to tears. I believe God reveals His character to us through stories. We learn so much about who we are supposed to be, and what is to come, in the stories of the Bible. Jesus was a master storyteller throughout the gospels. Each of us has a story that God is writing that He calls us to share.
My grief turns 25 years old this summer. It should be all packed up, starting a career and in its own place at this age, but it still holds a distinct part of my heart. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last 25 years, it’s that stories are often the most healing remedy for grief. Sometimes it’s stories of past memories, or maybe it’s others’ stories of grief and triumph. Stories are the legacy that those who we have lost leave behind as a blanket for times of pain.
In a series of events that could only happen to our family of four, I found myself calling my mom and bargaining to clean out her storage room in exchange for her housing a set of Crosswhite kittens. Like all good moms do, she took my deal and, much to Clay’s delight, we found ourselves cleaning out a storage room with over 25 years’ worth of Haskins family junk memories.
We hit the gold mine with a few of my dad’s tools. We also read pages and pages of a 1987 construction log just to give me a semblance of the man that I’ve really only come to know through others’ stories. We laughed when in February of 1987 he spent a week in Las Vegas and, strangely enough, the entire week he marked that it was “too rainy to work” in a town that gets an average of 4 inches of rain annually.
Clay and Russell uncovered a jackpot of hunting supplies and tools, including a camouflage backpack. Russell played for hours with his new toy, and I heard Clay tell Russell all about what they can do now that they have this, and how Pops (what they call my dad) probably used these tools when he was hunting. They made plans to use Pops’ hunting stuff next time they were in the woods. I was taken back to words I have been singing over and over lately in so much uncertainty, as a reminder from God Himself:
I love Your voice
You have led me through the fire
In darkest nights
You are close like no other
I’ve known You as a father
I’ve known You as a friend
I have lived in the goodness of God
-from “Goodness of God” by Bethel Music
My two favorite boys in the world, who will never know my father on earth, are now carrying on his legacy, and I realized in that moment that that was truly a gift from God. I also can share my dad’s legacy through my motherhood, in the way I love my children and share stories of their Pops.
My prayers have shifted so much recently, and I hope they continue evolving as I grow into someone who sees God both as a Father and a Friend. I have always struggled with not just laying my requests before God as a Father, but developing a relationship with the Friend that I have in the Creator of the Universe. Asking to see the goodness of God regardless of the outcome, instead of asking for things to happen or not happen, has been transformative for me.
One of the greatest symptoms of grief is the bitterness that can so easily entangle someone. It’s a battle not to let the what if? and not fair reign supreme in my thoughts, especially in times like this when we find ourselves celebrating fathers. But I am not fighting the battle alone: I have both a Father and a Friend in the fight. I have others’ stories of hope. I have God’s reminders and stories in His Word of triumph.
I cannot change the fact that I will feel pain on earth, but I can beg to see the goodness of God rather than the bitterness. I see God’s goodness in watching my husband and son carry on my dad’s legacy. I hope we continue to seek the goodness of our Father and Friend in all circumstances.
Libbo Haskins Crosswhite and her husband, Clay, live in Madison and attend Pinelake. They have one daughter, Mary Thomas, who is 6 years old, and a son, Russell, who is 4 years old. She is the high school guidance counselor at Madison-Ridgeland Academy and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.