Sunday, June 13, 2021

The Burden of Regret


Regret - that feeling of sorrow linked to past choices. Regret is a burden that every grown up human being carries. It’s weight is felt in grief, in anguish, in remorsefulness, or even shame. To me, one of the most significant things about regret is that it is a burden that we put upon ourselves. Even when regret is linked to a choice that we made that was the right choice - the truly loving or kind or protective or responsible choice in that moment, we still often pummel ourselves in the aftermath of that choice. 

A friend of mine was looking at an old photo from summers ago. Six sun-tanned happy kids are in the photo, five of them sticky with ice cream treats. The youngest kid in the photo was my friend’s two year old adoptive daughter who had passed away due to medical issues, a few months following the day the picture was taken. One of her daughter’s conditions on a long list of medical diagnoses was Type 1 Diabetes. 

My friend texted , “This photo makes me happy and sad. Why couldn’t I have let her have some ice cream. I was so new to caring for her and wanted to do everything perfect. I should have let her have the ice cream.”

I quickly replied, “But remember (she had been happily snacking on baby carrots, at the time), she loved those carrots like they were ice cream! You were doing the thing you believed was best. You were such a good mama to her!”

She said, “I know, but look at her. She’s signing please (in the photo) But thank you for that reminder. She had only been with us a month or so...”

“It was like having a brand new baby for the first time, wasn’t it?” I asked.

“Absolutely! I would have done that differently with the knowledge I have now. But she got my best either way,” she replied.

“ He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us... Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.
-2 Corinthians 1:4, 6-7

I know that my friend voiced her regret specifically to me not only because I had been present the day of that photo, but also because she believed that as a foster/adoptive mom myself, I would understand the burden of her regret. And she was right - I am very familiar with the wistful feeling regret can weigh in as. As a parent, making decisions from a place of loving boundaries can sometimes seem so impossibly hard. I occasionally look back and find my parenting choices regrettable even though they were the right choices - the actual best choices in those moments. Viewing my past through the lens of heartbreak or of greater knowledge is always going to be painful I think. It’s a situation in which I know that I need to forgive myself and have the grace to look behind my imperfections. I guess that’s the point of grace - of being able to not only accept it as a gift from God, but also learning to accept it from myself. I struggle with this often, especially as a parent... even more so with my adopted kids, where I have had to parent blindly sometimes. Circumstances have forced me to do the best I could, even though later I sometimes realized my best in the past was lacking in the light of the present.

Regret is a universal burden in any relationship, really. A few days ago would have marked my 27th wedding anniversary, had I not gotten a divorce in this past year. Divorce is a situation riddled with regret, and the burden of that regret is carried by each person in a family - no matter where the blame lays. On my former wedding anniversary day, I realized that a sacred day had now been transformed into a mourning day - the mourning of the hope that had once been woven through even the dysfunctional parts of my marriage. I looked around myself and I saw that my family is broken, the hearts of my children are broken, the rhythm of our lives is broken. I looked beside myself and saw the path beside me is broken - that my present ability to maintain any but my most immediate relationships is broken. I looked inside myself and saw that my desire to trust is broken, that the thoughts in my head are broken, that my desire to speak is broken... that my heart is broken. 

The trauma of a broken marriage is painted with regret. The relics of my heart are the only pieces that remain of my vows. Those pieces are strewn about, splintered and worn. My marriage was beaten down, destroyed, and abandoned - but still, these pieces of me remain. My heart has become burdened with the questions regret asks - what did I do wrong, what should I have done differently, why did I say this or choose that?  Regret weighs heavy, even when the choice that strains the remaining threads of a relationship is not ones own. 

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
-Matthew 11:28-30 NLT

Regret is a ponderous burden. God tells me in the Bible to bring my burdens to him. I think when I consciously do that, I find some comfort in knowing that God understands my regret, how I feel underneath its weight. Maybe that’s the “rest”  Jesus talked about... that knowing God is gentle and understanding of my inadequacy. Maybe the “rest” is that bringing my regret to him is not going to result in his judgement of guilt, but in his gift of grace. Maybe the “rest” I am promised is the realization that this lifetime does not end in regret, but in restoration. Maybe that hope is the “rest” I can lean into from regret.

Regret is not easy to talk about - it’s very nature is that it is brought about by something we wish did not exist. But I know there is healing to be had in carrying regret to the appropriate place - to not use it to condemn ourselves, but to give ourselves hope. Hope shows me a mother greeting her daughter again one day with a joyful hug and an ice cream cone. Hope finds me when my daughter paints a picture with a quote from her favorite movie written on the bottom that says, “This is my family. It's little, and broken, but still good.” Hope tells me that today’s regret does not cancel out yesterday’s joys or tomorrow’s possibilities.  

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.” 
-Psalm 62:5 NIV







Saturday, December 26, 2020

Mid-Story


This Christmas was different for everyone in the world, and our family was not excluded from that circumstance. In the weeks before Christmas Day, I heard the people I love voice their awareness of the coming differences with anxiety and nervousness about parting from the expected familiar - my son, my brother, my mother, my daughter, my niece, my friend - and even the voice of my own inner self, echoing around in my head. Each of us struggled with concern for different reasons, but our struggle was universal in that we all had suffered painful life changes that set us on new paths over the course of the year since last Christmas. 


Rev. David Crosby wrote, “You do not get to choose the events that come your way nor the sorrows that interrupt your life. They will likely be a surprise to you, catching you off quard and unprepared. You may hold your head in your hands and lament your weak condition and wonder what you ought to do. To suffer, that is common to all...Pain will change you more profoundly than success or good fortune. Suffering shapes your perception of life, your values and priorities, and your goals and dreams. Your pain is changing you.”


The change that sorrow and suffering brings is painful. It breaks off pieces of ourselves that were attached to things we thought we needed, things we thought we depended on, things that we thought defined us... until life happened and forced us to see that the parts that have broken away are not meant to be with us on the road ahead. We feel raw and wounded in those broken places, sometimes in an almost unbearable sense. But time moves us forward  down our new path, and we realize that our journey continues despite our pain, and despite our inclination to stay in the place where life was interrupted, hoping that somehow that moment will rewind itself and disappear. 


Some of the most hopeful verses in the Bible, to me, come in the middle of a book of laments. A lament is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.” Yet, in the middle of this book of laments, this hope appears: 

“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’” Lamentations 3:21-24 NIV

Throughout my life, whenever I have been faced with a situation which has caused me great grief and sorrow, these verses have reminded me that the middle of my circumstances is not where life ends. The middle of my pain is not where joy ends. The middle of my struggle is not where hope ends. Even when a job is lost, an ability is lost, a relationship is lost, or a life is lost... there is more to the story than the sorrowful middle. That doesn’t mean that I should not express my grief, that I cannot lament over what has changed by my loss - but what it does mean is that I can hold on to the promise that this middle of sorrow is not a bitter end. 


In the church I’ve been attending this year, each week the pastor heralds the congregation with a blessing before we leave the shelter of the church and return to the lives we live outside the walls of that building. The blessing comes from Numbers 6:24-26 in the Bible:

“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” 

I am deeply comforted each week as I listen to the words of this blessing spoken over me. I know that the original blessing was spoken by the priests over the Israelites when they were in the middle of a journey through the wilderness. These people were living a life of change and hardship that often brought about grief and sorrow and uncertainty. But in the middle of that wilderness, there was hope. In the middle of that wilderness was the promise that these difficult circumstances were only the middle of the journey, and that a wondrous destination still lay ahead. In the middle of that wilderness, the words of this blessing were spoken over them to remind them that God was with them always. 


When the very first Christmas was coming, Joseph was uncertain and anxious. He was nervous because the life he had planned had been interrupted and he did not know what to expect on the new path his life journey suddenly had taken. The book of Matthew records that an angel came to him in a dream in the middle of the time he was lamenting his unanticipated circumstances, and the angel said:

"’Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel—which means, God with us.'" -Matthew 1:22-23, NIV


Immanuel, the name of Jesus, literally means “God with us”. As we celebrate Christmas differently this year, how thrilling and how comforting it is to know that in the middle of my lamenting, in the middle of my struggle, in the middle of my unexpected journey - Jesus is here with me, and He promises not to leave me hopeless, but to faithfully bring me through to the completion where love wins out and mourning ends.


“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished...”  -Philippians 1:6















Sunday, January 5, 2020

The Waiting

“There is a life and there is a death, and there are beauty and melancholy between.” ~Albert Camus

Last year was filled with uneasiness for me... a sense that the world was always tilting, and no matter how I attempted to adjust my stance, I never could find a balanced position that allowed me to relax. When the life you are living is filled with uncertainty and hyper-vigilance, you become tired... I became tired - chronically, heavily, depressingly tired. I’d look around and feel overwhelmed by the veil that lay over my world. I’d look within and feel defeated by the circumstances that had been heaped there without my permission. I’d look up to God and feel like he was pre-occupied with whatever was happening just over my shoulder. And maybe he was... maybe God knew that I sensed what was behind me around the curve of the road, just out of sight, but close enough for me to feel the chill of its shadow reaching out ever longer and leaving me uneasy with the darkness it cast around itself.

In last few days of 2019, I finally ran out of road. As I turned and looked back at where I had been walking, I saw the shape of the shadow that had been behind me become sharpened in the light of the glaring truth. Finally, I saw clearly what I had been sensing all along. It was a shifting figure painted with someone else’s shame and deceit. It was hard to look at... even harder as I began to comprehend exactly what it was - unfortunately familiar, something which could never be unseen.

Everybody in this world experiences undeserved pain. It rips at your heart, pounds on your head, leaves your soul shaken. In a detached yet spiritual moment, the horror reminded me that Jesus had died from such an undeserved experience. And not surprisingly, the thought was not comforting. It was more of a disruptive awareness - like a train clattering down the tracks through the night with its horn blaring, and its dirty graffiti covered cars hanging onto each other by a mere coupling.

I know other people - friends, family - who have experienced deep pain this last year, too. A husband who shockingly died in a matter of unexpected moments at work. A violent seizure disrupting a peaceful night and announcing the previously unknown presence of a brain tumor. An estranged child becoming more deeply lost to her loving mother by her own hard-hearted intention. Such pain feels like a betrayal. It is trauma at its worst, wreaking havoc with our faith and with our families. Sometimes, all we can do in those moments where life betrays us is to suffer, exposed. We want to run away from the pain, yet somehow hold on to the precious thing shrouded inside of it that’s being ripped away. Our minds are at war with our hearts. Our faith is at war with our fear.

I could probably write in a bunch of right responses here - to pain, to fear, to traumatic upheavals. But sometimes, the right response is not the one that you would think. Sometimes, you have to be wild and scream and cry and pound your fists. Sometimes, you feel so fragile, that you need to lock yourself in a room for awhile and leave everyone else outside. Sometimes, you are so confused that next right thing to do waivers and swerves like a car out of control from one side of the road to the other. Sometimes, you feel like time is standing still, but then you realize that it’s actually you who is standing still. When you look around you’re shocked to realize all around that life goes on regardless, and the reality is, you’re forced to a point to go along with it.

I think that our inability to stop time from moving is the way that healing begins. It is a both a maddening and miraculous awareness. Before the horror and pain have even ended their barrage of mayhem in your life, the details of recovery are roused and engaged. The relationships in your circle begin to shift, and those with deepest significance, with the most soulful connections, begin to rise to the surface of your life, like cream in a jar of ice cold milk that has been left undisturbed overnight in the farmer’s kitchen. Suddenly, you realize that what you viewed as God’s pre-occupation while circumstances lined up to destroy your life, was not an abandonment at all. It was a patient waiting, a carefully orchestrated plan to ensure that what was meant to harm you, would in the end be used to help you. As your messed up life became separated into the before and after of the moment you became painfully aware of the circumstances that would change things forever, God had never taken his eyes off of you. Instead, he had allowed the cream to gather and rise, and even as you staggered under the suddenly too heavy weight of your crisis, he began to redistribute the burden of it. He ladled the cream from the top of the milk and began the process of turning it into beautiful new details whose possibilities had always existed in his plan, but could only arise through the process of separation.

As God has already begun to spread out the burden of my pain onto family and friends, I have felt a shift. While the ache is still there, so there is also a relief. I think that this past year of carrying this burden alone has both strengthened and weakened me. But I think there was purpose in the waiting. As the cream gathers to the top, so God had begun to gather my relationships and my life circumstances to a place where they would be ready for this time. As I became more and more weary of my burden, I became more and more ready to share it - not an easy task for an introverted independent woman like myself. And even as I am horrified and aching from pain, I am encouraged. Because when cream is whipped  and shaken and blended with other good ingredients, it becomes part of a number of delightful new creations - new and good gifts. Creations that are served to satisfy all on their own, as well as creations that enhance the flavor of other good gifts.

So, as I contemplate the pain that has risen in me, I also am shedding the veil that had covered my world. The future is becoming a bit brighter, although my vision of it is still cloudy. I’m okay with the uncertainty of it, however. Just before the moment of horror I have recently experienced, God caught my attention with this quote... “Honor the waiting. It teaches you the beauty and ache of hope in equal measure.” The beauty and the ache are both necessary in order to experience the miracle of hope. God has shown us that truth over and over from the beginning of time. Who am I to not be willing to sit down and rest with him after the grueling process, and enjoy the sweetness that comes in a dish of ice cream? There is nothing that can take away the precious hope that remains in me because of my strong faith in the good, good love of my Father God.

“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:31‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“They brought sleeping mats, cooking pots, serving bowls, wheat and barley, flour and roasted grain, beans, lentils, honey, butter, sheep, goats, and cheese for David and those who were with him. For they said, ‘You must all be very hungry and tired and thirsty after your long march through the wilderness.’”
‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭17:28-29‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭27:14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭100:5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.”
‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:16‬ ‭NLT‬‬





Monday, November 5, 2018

Purpose, Perspective, Politics, and Papa

My son told me he is going to vote tomorrow because his Papa (my dad) told him he should. I smiled because when I was young, I too voted because I knew my dad would call me up and ask, “Did you vote?” And, just like my son (kindred middle child spirit), I had this internal over-fondness of approval... especially from my dad - so when he called and asked me if I had voted, I wanted to be able to answer “yes” in order to hear that coveted “Good job!” from the other end of the phone. Almost 20 years later, I still make a habit of voting because I realize it pleases not only my earthly father, but my Heavenly Father as well. I vote because my perspective of the world is that of a woman who is a mom and a community member, and I believe that choosing a leader who reflects my perspective in those roles is important. A few years ago, I heard someone say, “The authenticity of your faith is connected to every aspect of your life.” The statement has stayed with me as I have faced situations every day that require difficult choices. I realize that each of those situations is an opportunity for me to be authentic and sincere in who I am and what I believe. I know that there are times when I fail to choose the right thing. I know that those times are most often when I choose to do the selfish thing. But, I also know that there are many times that I choose with integrity. Those are the moments that I want to stretch over into all areas of my life. I know that those moments of integrity have been modeled for me by my dad for a lifetime. I pray that God influences my own children through me in the same way He has influenced my life through my parents. In the meantime, I’m happy my son is choosing to vote tomorrow. And even if his motives are more self-centered than right-minded at this point, I am proud of him. I have confident hope that as he continues to experience life, and as he encounters more and more opportunity to make hard choices, he will also continue to grow in his ability to choose with a bigger perspective... to choose with insight and integrity. How fortunate we all are to have the opportunity to do better every day... Happy Election Day!

“But you, O Lord, will sit on your throne forever. Your fame will endure to every generation... Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth and made the heavens with your hands. They will perish, but you remain forever; they will wear out like old clothing. You will change them like a garment and discard them. But you are always the same; you will live forever. The children of your people will live in security. Their children’s children will thrive in your presence.”
‭‭- Psalms‬ ‭102:12, 25-28‬ ‭NLT‬‬


Saturday, November 3, 2018

Lost

Yesterday was the birthday of our oldest adopted son. I didn’t celebrate out loud. I didn’t celebrate with joy. I didn’t celebrate with him. In my heart, I remembered the impish smile that was often on his face from the day we first met. In my heart, I also remembered how that playful expression would at times become anxious as he fixated on imaginary other-worlds. I think his fantasies were born out of loss... loss of people and places that in reality, no one should have to mourn. His loss has been magnified by the schizophrenic legacy of his birth family. Bit by bit through his young adulthood, our son has become lost in his loss. He has become lost to us, who are his adoptive family. He has become lost to his birth brother, who lived at his side for a lifetime. He has become lost to his friends, who he once reveled in the presence of. He has become lost, and as a result, we are now a reflection of his loss. It is not a reflection made up of regret. I don’t regret loving him. I don’t regret the space we invited him to fill in our family more than 21 years ago. Even now, when he has chosen to leave that space he once filled... I don’t regret the impression of him left behind. What we reflect are the reminders that he was once here. Our loss reminds us that he was actively loved. Our loss reminds us that even though he has turned away now - he has turned away as a stronger person for having been loved through his own greatest loss. Our loss reminds us of the loss our own Father God experiences when one of His children turns their back to Him. So, on our son’s birthday as I contemplated his life, I purposed to celebrate with gratitude... to be grateful that he is in a safe place, to be grateful for the many memories of our time with him that bring smiles to all of our faces, to be grateful for the opportunity to learn to love someone through difficult circumstances and even through loss, and for the strength that lesson has grown in us as a family. CS Lewis wrote, “Love is never wasted, for its value does not rest on reciprocity.” I know these words are true.

Yesterday was the birthday of our son. I am grateful for him, and I celebrate his life in my heart. 
More of this story:
http://ofwildernessandrockyplaces.blogspot.com/2016/?m=0

“Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight...”
‭‭James‬ ‭1:27‬a ‭MSG‬‬


Saturday, September 8, 2018

Love Rises

My mom and dad have what is surely the best example I know of what an enduring marriage relationship looks like. When I look at their relationship with each other, I see that the strength that holds them together is the inclusion of God. I love the quote by Tennessee Williams, "The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks." Those words paint a miraculous picture of the fragile thing overcoming the hard thing, of beauty and life surviving in the crevices of dark and difficult circumstances. I myself have experienced that marriage is not easy, especially in the face of the ongoing trauma that surrounds having a family member with extensive medical issues. My parents have experienced those circumstances in their marriage, my younger brother having been born with a rare form of muscular dystrophy that compromised his physical health and development throughout his 22 years of life. The experience of chronic trauma in our family was compounded by the additional heartbreak of my brother’s death. My parents’ response to such difficulty and sorrow always has taught me well about the paradox of suffering. They showed me that the pain of suffering brings about the gift of learning to love with no regrets, and learning to limit your focus to the most important things in life. My mom and dad’s example has helped me to understand that the very thing that feels like it is threatening to tear a family apart, can actually be a catalyst that brings deep unity to that family instead. Their example of faith has shown me that by choosing to trust God in circumstances that are unthinkably terrible, I am allowing him the opportunity to turn what seems tragic into something more beautiful than I could ever have imagined. In their marriage, my parents allowed God to carry them to places where they surely never would have chosen to go on their own. They have trusted God through many situations which anyone could not possibly choose to embrace, and which many people would even bitterly say called for resentment. Yet, here they are today, truly living in gratitude for the dark valleys they have journeyed through. Here they are today, privileged to experience a glimpse of a present and a future that is not framed by the lack of what they have lost, but rather by the love of what they have grown. I know that their love today does not exist because they have spent the last 50 years gazing at themselves, or even at each other. I know that their love exists today because over the last 50 years, they have consistently chosen together to look in the direction of God. I am so thankful for their example that the most important thing a husband and a wife can do in their marriage relationship, is to cling to love for God and for each other. My parent’s marriage and their lives are truly evidence that love will always rise when given the opportunity.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

"...I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, 'My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness'"
2 Corinthians 12:8b-9a NIV


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Legacy of Imperfection


The family I grew up in? The family I grew up in was as imperfect of a family as the next one. I say this, confident in my opinion that there are no perfect families in the world. The family I grew up in still exists - although with missing pieces, with holes patched up, with repurposed parts.

“Everyone needs compassion
A love that's never failing
Let mercy fall on me...”

My family was gifted with a legacy of love, but even though we were given that gift, we all struggle with carrying it at times. My mom and dad are tired, and yet they never give up on finishing the journey they began. My brother and I are incomplete, yet multiplied, all at the same time. We are missing a sibling, but have each acquired a spouse and children. We have increased in love, but (like all human beings) we hold on to a measure of selfishness, we hoard a portion of pride, and we are defeated by our own sensitivities. When those faults threaten to crack the foundation of our legacy, it’s important to remember that this day and this moment and this conflict are fleeting, but our family remains our family forever.

“Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Savior
The hope of nations...”

The legacy we were given is still with us, and many more hands have touched its surface... some gently caressing it, some powerfully supporting it, some clawing at it to take pieces for themselves. Our own children are connected to it, and just as is true for us, those connections mean that the paths they each choose to walk have all started at the original point of this legacy. This means that every stumble jars, every new direction stretches, and every heir added is cause for a shift in our balance.

“So take me as You find me
All my fears and failures
And fill my life again...”

Each one of us is challenged by our struggles, by our limited perspectives, by our imperfections. Some of us are challenged to let go and move over before reaching out to grasp a new area. Some of us are challenged to stay the course, and hold on right where we have been standing the whole time. Some of us are challenged to connect in ways that respectfully grow the legacy, rather than harshly force it to change. Some of us are challenged to find where we belong at all. However, all of us must recognize that surrendering our challenges to the One who can save us from their consequences is the only way to experience the gift that the legacy truly is - a gift of joy and of acceptance, a gift of forgiveness and of grace, a gift of hope and of trust, a gift of peace and of love...

“I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
And now I surrender.”

...a legacy of love made perfect in imperfection.

“Savior, He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Forever author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave.”

“The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
‭‭Zephaniah‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

“Concerning this thing, I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
‭‭II Corinthians‬ ‭12:8-9‬ ‭NKJV‬‬