A Grief Shared
It’s interesting, the perception some people have of our decision to dramatically downsize and move our family onto a sailboat:
“What I wouldn’t give to sell everything to go on an extended vacation.”
“We have too many responsibilities to do what you guys are doing.”
“Must be nice to take a break from real life with your family.”
It seems the general belief shared by those furthest outside our circle of friends and family has been that we are about to embark on a life of long-lasting leisure, a furlough of fantastical freedoms, a recess of relaxing recreation.
Those who know us best, however, understand that this lifestyle change resembles not a vacation but a catalyst of sorts — a change-agent sparking us to live more by faith in a way we’ve been too distracted to live up to now.
Case in point: our recent sea trial / boat survey trip. For this last portion of our boat purchase, we stayed in a hotel near the marina where we had scheduled our vessel haul-out. During breakfast, we made small talk with a family sitting next to us, but that small-talk turned serious when the mother shared news of her fight with bone cancer — a battle she was supposed to have lost a month earlier.
Immediately, we knew we needed to pray for this woman and her family. But how? With her restless two-year-old and our spunky five-year-old, it was difficult to maintain focus as they vied for our attention. Furthermore, we had just met, so how could we discern that about which we should pray?
My husband began asking questions about the bone cancer diagnosis: howdid she discover it? Were treatments working? How did she feel? I listened intently, amazed that he was the one asking for details because I’m usually the one to dig deep in such circumstances.
As they talked and the impression inside me to pray for this woman grew stronger, the two-year-old and his father went up to their room and our oldest daughter took our five-year-old up to our room as well.
And then the woman opened up. She told us that doctors think her lungs might be filling up with cancer and that her husband is more interested in her gravestone epitaph than in tending to her broken body and spirit. She lamented that even as she ran toward God in her most frightening moments, her husband turned away. She mourned that she may leave behind a son too young to know her.
And before I could say a thing, my husband asked if we could pray with her.
So we held hands with a weeping stranger in the middle of a bustling hotel dining room praying words of hope and healing into her soul. We parted with hugs and promises to pray for her in the days and weeks to come.
We walked back to our room heavy with sorrow but also charged with the thrill that God used us — us! — to tend to a hurting heart. In awe, we admired God’s ability to transform a grief shared into a light shining out from the darkness.
So this business of downsizing and simplifying? This process of moving our family way outside our comfort zone and squeezing onto a tiny boat? It’s no vacation! Instead, it’s a catalyst for spiritual renewal unlike anything we’ve ever known, and we’re stepping forward in great expectation of all that God will do in us and through us.