Holy Whispers

The Holy Whispers

In the face of grief and the shattering of every dream I held for this space of time, I have heard God speak to me. I had no language but the broken cries of a darkness that I didn’t understand. I stood bowed and lost in a sea surrounded by people looking at me and wondering how I could get up and how I could face a tomorrow that wasn’t very appealing any more. I have a strength forged not of self, but of a simple choice that opened in a very small window of time. While there are no magic formulas for loss of another, loss of a dream, or for loss of self, for me, doing what felt right in the face of the storm is what made the difference.

In the very first moments of hearing those unthinkable words, I fell to my knees keening. One thought crossed my mind. How could I claim to have faith if in my darkest hour I turned from the faith I proclaimed. I chose to fall into my faith. That choice has led my steps from that moment of a life interrupted by the unthinkable. While I remember very little of that first year, I do know that choice opened a small window that has led to a better version of the girl I once was.

I am grateful and have been grateful from moment one that so many people have come into my life and walked with me. That simple gratitude

is the basic building block for resiliency because if a person can find something to be thankful for , they have something to get up for on the morning. A person that is consumed with darkness and cannot find something to be thankful for is a risk for suicide. In fact, grief is a risk factor. By looking at what I did have versus what I could not change, I opened myself up to growth and the blessings that were coming at me at the speed of light.

It is hard to be grateful when life seems unfair. It is hard to be grateful when it seems that evil has won or when children are involved. I prayed every day for Phil’s safe return. My church prayed, my family and friends prayed, and yet my cries to God went unanswered—or did they? My faith has shifted. I have come to realize that life on earth is only part of the story and it is the only portion I know. I want to clutch my people, my things, my dreams, myself and somehow think that it is because it is something I have somehow earned. That was a faulty thought process for me. God gives every person free choice. I often choose wrongly. Phil’s assassin had a choice. He chose evil, but I have to believe that there is life beyond what we see here.

The shift in my faith is that I still pray with the groaning of my soul, but I trust that no matter how the prayer is answered that God’s provisions will be enough. Those words are hard to believe at times, but the choice to trust in what I cannot see has led to friendships that carry me in the storms and to a voice that cannot be quieted. In that small window and in the one cognizant choice I made, God spoke to me. How?

While the voice is not audible, it is a burning bush that blazes the way ahead. I have done what feels right to me and what is instinctual since moment one. Those instincts are the nudgings of the Holy Spirit guiding my steps through the tumultuous crashing black waters of despair.

I can see how every moment before that day led to that “being born for such a time as this.” I had to deal with the media from the start. My journey was and is public. By choosing to talk and to write, I learned that I can tell the world about military issues and that I can put a name and a face on military loss. I learned that I can control what is said and how it is said. My faith can blaze if I choose to be the one telling my story, thus I speak. Who am I to speak? Really, I am a nobody, but every one of those names that flash on our televisions and for every military man and woman who comes home bearing the visible and invisible wounds of war, I am somebody because it is for them that I speak. They all have stories interrupted or ended. My story continues through the telling of theirs.

I chose to run because that is where I can fall into my faith and where there is no hiding. I am simply Linda the girl who has run since she was 15. It is in the miles run that my tears fall and where peace fills my heart again. Running is my happy place and my fun place. It isn’t about winning or weight loss as much as it is about the quieting of the turmoil within. In the initial aftermath in the moments where I saw and felt only darkness and brokenness, and in a time that I wished that it had been my life taken, running gave me a foothold. By lacing up the running shoes and stumbling out of the door, I gave myself a gift of finding light again. While in my house, I was surrounded by a past that caused me more pain and a future that I no longer wanted. Running just let me be.

I chose to write because as those who have known me for years know, I am not good at talking about my feelings. I have a hard time letting people in and I have a hard time admitting my own weakness and need. When everything is gone, and in the choice to write and speak about my journey, a vulnerability was exposed. This fragile spirit was laid bare and it allowed for people to reach a helping hand to me. So many people have carried me and have been my lifelines that I cannot begin to list them all. Transparency and the wiliness to share have given me more than I ever could have asked for.

I also chose to go back to work five days after Phil was buried. I didn’t have to, but I chose to. That choice was an important choice because work allowed me to focus on other people for 9 hours versus focusing on everything I had lost. For 9 hours I could be just Linda, a worker, versus that girl. I could be normal for those 9 hours. In that choice, and in the choice to stoke the fire with education, I have seen the most professional growth and success that I have ever had. I know that this window will close in six years, but I have no doubt that I was born for such a time as this.

My life was interrupted and my dreams have deviated far from what I am familiar with or comfortable with. I hear the holy whispers of God in the nudgings of instinct. I see the burning bush even as I cower afraid and unsure. When I deviate and second guess where I stand, I feel unease and fear. As I step forward trusting, I am given everything I need and then some. I am grateful, more than grateful, that I am standing here right here, right now ready to do what is being asked of me.

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