Rainbows. We all love them. They represent many things to different people, but I think the main thing they represent to most is hope. We can live without food, for awhile at least. We can live without water for a short time. We can live without love indefinitely, if we so choose, but we cannot live as we were meant to live without hope.
A double rainbow lit up the sky last evening. I received a text from Cassie Wallace alerting me to the fact, and I ran out to look, but saw nothing. I looked toward her house - nothing. I looked everywhere around - nothing. Then, one last attempt, I went out the front door and there it was, arched over our home: A rainbow. Cassie's picture of it warmed my heart: Double rainbow. Kristin loved rainbows. They represented hope to her that God was in control of her life. It seems when she needed anything from heaven, it was there. She saw a shooting star on more than one occasion, doves on every hand, and cloud formations that appeared as angels. But, rainbows were her all time favorite hug from heaven. I sent the picture of the double rainbow to Jamie's daughter, Sarah. She texted back that it reminded her of the song "If I Die Young" by Band Perry and the phrase: "Lord make me a rainbow, I'll shine down on my mother, she'll know that I'm safe with you when she stands under my colors." That was one of the two songs played at Kristin's funeral. So, the double rainbow brought me, and many others, I am sure, hope.
This crazy grief of mine (and many others, I know) messes with my head on occasion. Grief's fresh, gut-wrenching way can rob us of hope. Raw grief can make us feel that we will never truly be "OK" again. It is common to feel we are losing our minds, our way and our lives. Did you know one major symptom of grief is to fear dying of the same thing or in the same way your loved one died? It's true. It is also very real in the "thick" of grief to fear you are losing your mind as the same symptoms that plague the dear sufferers of Alzheimer's appear with grief: Forgetfulness to the extreme, losing our way on a familiar road or street, or just forgetting to remember. One thing I try and always remind grieving folk that I counsel is that this is common and will pass in time. I also remind myself these days as I have reminded bereaved clients throughout the years that grief affects our body much as the AIDS virus, it breaks down the immune system. We simply must take care of our health. Admitting when we are in trouble is imperative in regaining hope and continuing on moment by moment (day by day is too much at first). I had to do this when my girl died as I couldn't eat or drink and was basically very ill physically. I woke up feeling dehydrated completely, called my doctors immediately and said, "Hey, I'm in trouble here." They gave me something for the nausea, and I sipped orange Gatorade as my husband repeatedly reminded me to do so.
Something I am also reminding myself of is that it will not hurt this bad forever. My own words echo in my mind from the many grief seminars, conferences, articles and private sessions and haunt me, but in a good way. "It will not hurt this bad forever" is one thing I have literally said thousands of times to folks. I know it is true, though my own mind refuses to grasp it now. I know it is a fact: God heals our broken hearts, and he uses time to do it.
My life's verse has been, for 25-plus years, Isaiah 61:3: "To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified."
I found this verse right after Kristin's daddy died in 1986. I clung tenaciously to it as it represented hope to me that I just might not hurt that bad forever. It also told me that an exchange was going to be made. As I turned this morning to Kristin's Bible, it is highlighted and many notes surround this familiar passage of scripture. Verse one of Isaiah 61 is underscored, highlighted and many arrows with dates surround: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to bring good new to the afflicted: He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners."
Most of you know that her life's burden was to free victims from human trafficking. Kristin put stars beside this verse: "The planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified." I said, or so they tell me I said, as I spoke at Kristin's funeral, that her life had been planted and now watch God fulfill the burden of her life through her death! I still believe that with my entire being, I know that she did not die in vain, nor was her short life wasted. Another rather blunt phrase in the song "If I Die Young" is "funny when you're dead everybody's listening." 'Tis true, right? Many thousands and thousands of dollars have been raised for Freedom 4/24 because of Kristin Short's death. It is no consequence that she died on Independence Day: July 4! We now cling tenaciously to words she spoke, journal entries she made and articles she wrote. Some have told me they are going in her place to Thailand in December.
My husband, Jamie, and I are forming: "Kristin's Hope," a nonprofit agency to help the hurting in our area as well as save victims from human trafficking and rehabilitate those who have been rescued by teaching them lifeskills in order to earn a living all the while with the prayer that they come to know our Jesus. All this gives me hope - hope that my baby girl did not die in vain, nor was her life cut short. It was planted: Planted that others might live, hear and come to know her Abba. (She lovingly referred to God as Abba as Abba is a term of endearment in the Hebrew language meaning Papa.)
Hope also brings with it initiative, for though our loved ones' work is done and they are at peace, our job is not over yet nor our lives hopeless. A better day is coming and it's just around the bend. We have the confidence that it will not hurt this bad forever. We can move through grief knowing that we may never get "over" a loss, we can certainly, and by the grace of God, get through it.
(Editor's note: Kimberly Morgan is a homeschool mom, co-founder with her husband, Jamie, of Kristin's Hope, and counselor with Cornerstone Christian Counseling. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.)