The following post is a guest blog from Tricia Cartner.
There is a popular book that came out a few years ago that several friends recommended to me. It’s about a woman who loses her mother and then takes a long backpacking trip. I was excited to read the book because she and I had a few things in common. I lost my mom and I am also a long distance backpacker. I actually hated the book. Very much. Upon losing her mother the author engages in some pretty selfish and irresponsible behavior all with excuse because of her loss. Her behavior has been lauded and accepted in today’s society and it has caused me a lot of frustration. I didn’t use my mother’s death as an excuse to be irrational or cause further hurt to people, so why is she being praised? After a little self evaluation (because of the bitterness I was allowing myself to feel towards her) I was convicted and felt a little sad for her. I had something she didn’t have and that allowed my grief to be carried out differently.
My Loss, My Hope
I lost my mother when I was 14 years old (a mere freshman in high school) and my life over the last 20 years has been covered in moments of sadness but lots of hope and redemption. You see, the difference between the author and me is that I am a believer in Jesus and I had Him to cling to. And because I had Jesus, I also had my army of fellow believers to support me and love me. My parents had my brother and me in church from the day I was born. Their salvation could not save me but their example and encouragement allowed me to make my own decision to follow Jesus around the age of 8. The Bible says in Proverbs 22:6 to “train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” I believe that my parents did that, and it is what got be through the difficult years to come.
When my mom got sick with cancer, she never wavered from her faith. In a journal she wrote me, she said, “It’s okay to cry about it and get angry about it, but we must accept it. God has decided to take me home with Him and we must never question His judgment. You must promise me not to get mad at God. You must not lose your faith.” While this was an earthly command from a loving mother, I know her words were steeped in truth from scripture. In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 Paul also tells the people in Corinth, “therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Though my upcoming struggle and the Corinthians struggles were different, we were both encouraged to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.
It wasn’t a long battle for my mother and my life quickly changed. I missed her greatly but my remaining family, church and friends from school wrapped their arms around me and loved me in a way that showed me that God’s goodness was still very real in my life. I love the verses in Ecclesiastes 4:9-11 that say, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone.” We were not made to do life alone, and I believe God put people in my life to pick me up when I was down and to keep me warm when life seemed cold.
As I’ve reached milestones over the past 20 years through sports, graduations, marriage, jobs and motherhood I’ve missed her so much. I would have loved her beside me during those times, but I’m reminded of the goodness that comes in each of these moments. While I believe He has provided abundantly for me on this earth since the loss of my mom, my true hope is in the future life that was promised to me (and her too!) as a believer in Christ. “And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ This is the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20)
Without these three things: a strong foundation, a strong body of support, and a strong hope in the future, I truly believe it is impossible to overcome any trial – death of loved ones, addictions, depression, fill in the blank. While my strong foundation was formed from the beginning of my life, it’s not too late to start working on yours.
For Hope and Health,
If you would like to contact Tricia regarding anything written in her entry, please do so by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.