This was a tough week. . . Steve and I were on vacation at the Jersey shore. It was a getaway planned for some time but needed even more following the death of my Father the week before. Add to that, the third anniversary of a time where I had mourned the death of four significant people in my life – including my first husband. Re-living the recent past makes this time of year extremely difficult. Adding my Father’s passing to the list had overwhelmed me with grief. The sadness was like a thick, wet, ever-present blanket that I could not get out from under–regardless of the beauty that surrounded me. My usual walks along the beach, which typically include amazing moments with God, yielded nothing. At one point I felt like everyone, including God, had abandoned me—heck, I wanted to abandon me. I had become paralyzed by the analysis of what was, and what it meant for my life. That’s not a place where God wants me to live – for any of us to live.
A day before our departure for home we were gifted with perfect weather, especially for the month of October—it was sunny and gorgeous. Temps in the 70’s. After setting up our beach chairs I was off for a long walk. Hoping this time for a deep connection with God.
I’m obsessed with collecting things on the beach. Similar colored shells, pebbles, Cape May “diamonds” or any shiny object needing to be explored, then reflecting on the amazingly creative nature of God. Today was no different. A white pebble, in the shape of a heart, caught my eye. I picked it up and inspected it, not realizing I was being watched. As I analyzed the stone it was clear that God meant for me to give it to Steve. God had been showing me that Steve is my protector – Gods provision – walking with me through even the darkest of days. That I needed to stride boldly into my future with him. Giving him this heart seemed like the perfect symbol of the message God was delivering to me.
As I continued down the beach, pondering the pebble, I heard a voice call out to me, “what did you find there?” Just then I noticed a man and woman sitting in beach chairs close to the water’s edge. The folks that had been watching me. I explained that I had found a heart shaped pebble. The man said, my wife is an expert in heart-shaped rocks, can she see it? (Who knew there were experts in heart-shaped rocks?) I knew that this was about to get interesting. As I walked over to them, I chuckled inside knowing I needed to pay close attention to the message that was about to be delivered here. God was dropping a breadcrumb–something I needed to follow. As I handed the woman the stone, she sheepishly admitted that she would not judge my pebble. And then she told me a story.
She started collecting heart shaped rocks after her Mother died. While her Mom was dying, she had been gardening and found a heart-shaped rock that was half yellow and half grey. After showing it to her Mother she declared, “when I’m gone, I want you to live on the yellow side, not the grey side—fully alive. Do not get stuck in sorrow”. Three weeks after her Mother’s death, she had an opportunity to go to a historic party and decided to stay home and garden instead. She didn’t feel right celebrating at that moment. Especially after her Mom’s passing. The day of the party she decided to till the ground again. She found (you guessed it) another heart-shaped rock that was half yellow and half grey. Remembering the conversation with her Mother – she went inside, got ready, and went to the party.
As I walked away, I had to laugh, thinking to myself, that’s amazing!
At that moment I committed to God – I’m heading to the party. I thanked Him for showing up, even though he assured me that he had been there all along.
We must “practice” the presence of God to connect with Him. Meaning, be awakened to the Holy Spirit’s promptings and influence in our lives. In my case, there is no greater connection with Him than to walk in His creation and praise Him for it. Looking for God in the small things allowed Him to deliver a heart-shaped message to me, just when I needed it most.
Steve now has the white, heart shaped pebble in his collection – and a heartfelt commitment that I will stop trying to figure this all out. God will continue my healing journey. In each day and in each way that He sees fit. I have a lot of “Daddy issues” yet to be addressed, but for now, I will learn to rest in the greatest Daddy of all.