As I stared at my reflection in the dressing room mirror, I knew exactly what I was planning to do. A blip of conviction passed through my spirit, but I gave in to the impulse and justified it as a “need.”
I picked up the pile of clothes and hurried toward the register. Arguing with myself all the way, I repeated my usual justifications, “These clothes will look nice on me.” “I need something fun in my life.” “This will help me feel better.”
Yeah – for about two minutes.
After that, I knew I would search for something else to comfort myself – another outfit, a new pair of shoes or a gallon of Turtle Cluster ice cream.
And always, after the newness wore off, after the calories settled into my thighs – I would be right back where I started – grieving and trying to find something to ease the pain.
It was one of those anniversary months, when I marked on the calendar another year since my baby died. I imagined my Ryan as he ran barefoot through the gardens of heaven, happy and free – not missing me because he lives in a paradise of joy. Yet my mother heart hopes that he looks forward to our reunion – that day when God says, “Time’s up” and I get to join him above the clouds. That time is not mine to decide.
For now, I live on earth and try to serve God however I can, even when the calendar flips over to reminders and sad anniversaries.
I know it’s important that we find a way to grieve our losses, but there is a limit to the various ways we can comfort ourselves.
This time, as I waited at the register, then paid for my purchases, I remembered the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Why was the Spirit reminding me of that particular verse? What did idolatry have to do with my grief?
That night I prayed and journaled my way through the questions, then finally realized what was happening to my soul.
When he left, Jesus promised he would send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, who is always available to help us confront our grief and find improbable peace. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever” (John 14:16).
The Holy Spirit is called the Comforter because as part of his job description, he knows exactly what I need – a nugget of hope and his healing touch to cover my grief.
When I look for something else to replace him, another way to comfort myself – clothes, shoes or ice cream, I am asking another god to provide my comfort. I am substituting material things for the comfort the Spirit is supposed to give. No wonder I feel satisfaction for only brief moments.
The Holy Spirit is meant to be irreplaceable.
“Open wide your mouth and I will fill it,” God promised in Psalm 81:10. He will fill me when I feel empty from the grief of missing a child I can no longer hug. He will satisfy me when no kind of temporary comfort lasts longer than a few minutes. He is the one who takes care of a child in heaven and his mother on earth.
It was a good lesson for me. Although I know those anniversaries will continue to be difficult, if I ask God to comfort me and let the Holy Spirit do his calming work in me – then I don’t need to look for another source – another god.
Clothes and ice cream can’t ever compete with the Holy Comforter.
Are you longing for comfort today? I pray that the Holy Spirit will bring you His true and lasting comfort.