Two days ago we celebrated Faith’s 4th birthday.
When I think about the journey we’ve been on since she was born, about who I am today in large part because of the work God did in my life through her, the word “refined” comes to mind.
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:6-7)
I love this picture of gold being refined by fire and that our faith – of greater worth than gold – can be similarly refined.
Refined by the fire of trials and grief to become something more precious and genuine than it was before. To become something worthy of praise, glory and honor.
That is a beautiful thing.
I have been refined. Through a trial I could have never imagined, my faith has grown stronger, more genuine, more precious. I have developed a deeper trust in God. I have gained a purer love for Him.
Through the life and death of our beautiful daughter Faith, He has refined me and I am thankful for that.
But I must add this – there is a big difference between being refined by grief and being defined by grief.
I can’t do very much for Faith as a mom. I can’t take care of her, can’t watch her grow up and celebrate the milestones of life alongside her.
So for a while it seemed that grieving the loss of her was something I could do for her. When the grief began to lessen, when I didn’t miss her with that same deep ache, I worried and even felt guilty. Was I doing something wrong?
Often, when we lose someone, our grief over losing them becomes a connection to that person. As a result, if we let go of grief it feels like we are breaking that connection.
But if we hang onto our grief it can start to define us, and that is not what God desires for our lives. We are not made to linger in the valley of sorrow forever.
I came to realize that it was okay, in fact it was right, to let go of grief. I realized that grief had played a role in shaping and refining me but it was not and never would be the defining characteristic of who I am.
Similarly my grief over losing Faith did not define my connection with her.
My love for her didn’t decrease or disappear when my grief subsided. I am Faith’s mom and that is enough. I don’t have to do anything for her here on earth to prove myself as her mother, I just am. Nothing can ever change or diminish that.
And so I let go of the grief.
Losing a child is part of my story, but not the end of my story. As I look back over our journey, I am thankful. Thankful for the time I had with Faith. Thankful for the future I have with her in Heaven. And thankful for the way God continues to refine me.
He truly has led me each step of the way… through valleys of sorrow to rivers of joy.