It’s approaching two years since Jacob died. He would have been 24 on March 3rd but he left this life March 26th 2014 at 22 and he will forever be 22 in my heart.
I have sensed a new phase of my grief that I doubt I can communicated in words for others to fully grasp. I have arrived at a point of accepting my new reality of life without Jacob. Perhaps it’s like breaking in a new pair of stiff leather shoes. The longer you wear them the fewer blisters and discomforts you endure. The thing about these new shoes is they are permanent, these clogs are for keeps. I keep walking this rocky road with these now broken in shoes but pebbles keep finding their way inside to irritate the “soul” of my feet. It takes time to work out the painful intruder, I stop, I empty my shoe of its unwelcome guest. Slipping it back on I walk forward until the time comes to repeat the process again.
It’s taken two years to break in these boots. It’s an odd feeling I have, it’s comfortable but the comfort strangely troubles my heart. Everything in me once resisted the notion that he is gone forever yet now being settled with the reality is somewhat unsettling in itself as well.
March is going to bring some bitter sweet days. I am confident that my shoes will have to come off to remove a rock or at the very least tie the laces so I don’t fall on my face. This is my life now, I am comfortably uncomfortable in my grief journey.
My walking shoes are only part of what people see in my overall attire. People might see me shed a tear when I have an irritation in my walk. Most people know nothing about my shoes and wouldn’t notice them at all without the limp they create as I walk. It’s OK that they don’t notice and it’s OK when they do as well.
These shoes only make up a portion of what I wear every day. Grief is my everyday companion but I never want grief to overtake my identity, anymore than a pair of shoes would represent my complete attire. It should not, it cannot, it must not! Though there are times I get overwhelmed with sorrow I refuse to allow grief be how people identify me. People must see that I am wearing other items that look much better than these leather boots. Beautiful things like, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.” (Galatians 5:22) I hope these are noticed more than anything else when people speak of my character.
Yes, I have been broken and I wear a new pair of shoes that get issued to a select few in this life. I walk my path, I stop to empty out the pebbles that irritate my soul. And there you are, my friend, standing with me in this road and you always stop when I stop. You always bring me comfort and support so I don’t collapse as I attempt to put these shoes back on my feet.
The feet of my friend are badly scarred by his journey as well. He has told me of how the scars came about and of all the bad things he endured which actually have a wonderful and beautiful ending.
I’m ready to walk again now, my friend has his staff in hand and says to my heart. “Come, follow me for I know this road. I have walked it before and I know it ends at a city of peace and rest.” And then I remembered the heavenly city and recalled this verse to my memory. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news and happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, Your God reigns.” (Isaiah 52:7)
I looked my friend in the face again today. I smiled with a tear in my eye and said, “Thank you Jesus for walking a mile my shoes.” He gave me a nod, returned a smile and a wink and said- lets be on our way my friend, we still have a ways to go.”