Written by: Jessica Lohmeyer and shared by my dear friend Heather Stolle.
“Suffering nourishes grace. God is patiently transfiguring all the notes of my life into the Song of His Son. God wastes nothing. No tear. He takes all of our suffering and our pain and burns us into someone totally new. From that, we can begin to hope again. And then one day, we might feel like giving that hope away. And our fire, (our burn), begins to spread. A fire that cannot be contained. We turn our pain into purpose and our misery into ministry to others.”-Joy Hulver (whom I am beyond blessed to know and admire)
Five years of storytelling.....what a journey this has been. The gift of writing became a teacher to me. Through my unforeseen gift of writing, I discovered more of myself than ever before. Writing became a blessing to share my passion for motherhood. Writing also granted me a difficult favor; processing my pain into chapters of our life. Sharing Heather’s life amplified my joy. Sharing my grief, I believe, “halved my sorrows”. There’s a whole lot of “beauty from ashes” happening in my life lately. I have been “burned into someone new” through my pain. My new creation is not restoration. It does not make it what it was, for it cannot be that. My new creation makes my story into something more.
In the last several years after Heather died, I was searching for something. I thought I needed to “find myself” and continue to work through my battlegrounds of grief. I realized I didn’t need to find ME. I needed to find God. Although I have been a believer in Christ my entire life, my distance from God was undeniable. I fell back on my faith being a feeling instead of an action. How could my “faith move mountains” if I wasn’t moving at all? I was stuck for a long time, AND, I was comfortable being stuck. I wasn’t fishing deep enough.
“Sometimes the place you are used to, is not the place you belong.” from the film, The Queen of Katwe
My family has a story, but we don’t have the hardest story. I have found myself humbled lately learning the life stories of others. This world is an army of broken people all trying to find their way. I didn’t like the chapter of pain God wrote for my life. Why did the phrase, “that would never happen to me”, happen to me? Why does tragedy happen to anyone? The answer to this question leaves me in constant wonder, but the truth is bigger than my wondering.....I’m not supposed to know. As much as I would like my list of Q&A’s answered from God, I have been redirected to this verse over time: “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”-Philippians 4:11. Finding contentment in the pain, softening my fear of the unknown, and the surrender of it ALL, has been one of my greatest challenges.
“My everything has changed, and yet, I am more me than I’ve ever been.”-- Iain Thomas
I have a huge tribute to make towards my husband. Yes, we were side by side in our grief and growth, but we couldn’t have been more different in our processing. Thomas was sturdy, strong, and continued an enduring task to be a stable provider in the hardest of times. When I began using writing as a means to process, he willingly became my editor. He endured my raw and in depth emotions, while he continued living in his own daily heartache. Deciding to publicly share this story of joy and sorrow was a joint effort. No matter how distraught we were in our loss, our love conquered all. I love you Thomas. Our journey has never been perfect, but it’s ours, and it’s home. Thank you for picking me. I love being yours!
My next tribute is to you! Our readers, our supporters. Proverbs 17:17 I dedicate to you, “A friend loves at all times.” Thank you for your part in our journey. Thank you for plunging in on day one! You all served as a pillar of strength in some of our darkest hours. We felt like our life was your favorite place to be. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for loving our family hard!
Closing Heather’s blog is another step in growth for me. I am ready I am so thankful for what writing has done in my life. I couldn’t have done this blog without my dear friend Jackie, who actually created this blog. Jackie encouraged me to share. She believes in sharing stories. I’ve been lucky enough to have Jackie in almost all stages of my life since we were young teenagers. I didn’t understand the power of writing, until this dear friend gave me a gentle push. Writing, is now, one of my favorite places to be, because of Jackie. I will always continue to write. Thank you Jackie!
I encourage you....share your story. Your story is created with purpose. Your story holds a release for your soul and who you are meant to be. Today, my daily story looks like this: I GET to parent again. I am so blessed! My story today is that I am training young men to be “trained up in the way they should go”. At the beginning, middle, and end of my day, the most common place you will find me is on my dirty floor with my boys in my arms, climbing on my back, or piled on top of me, their Daddy, or each other. I take it in. I consume it! I savor this life!
I am unfinished. I’m sure not where I need to be, but I’m so glad I’m not where I used to be. The last five years of my life have been a massive transformation. I will never forget the good things God has done for me, especially when “He has loved me at my darkest” Romans 5:8. The darkness of grief is much more comfortable, but I choose the light. I choose joy. I want to “cling to what is good”, Romans 12:9. In the midst of grief, I would still choose this life over and over and over again to relearn unconditional love, renewed joy, and how to “let it be”. I will not deny my pain, it’s real. But so is my love! In closing, I want to leave you with a statement that shapes my family photo and my story,
“Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.”
You can read more of Jessica's journey on her blog here.