By Michelle Volpe
One Sunday in church, someone asked me how I was doing. The only thing I could really realistically compare my grief to was the calm sunny days on the ocean and the days when an unexpected storm is in the distance. There are moments where I am hanging out on the raft. Sunning myself, coming up for air. I sigh in relief thinking, “This is it. I made it. I survived the hardest days. Just let me stay here. I am going to do it.” And in the blink of an eye, I see a storm off in the distance, and as I scramble to figure out how I am going to brace and prepare myself for the darkness, it’s too late. I somehow have found myself lying on the bottom of the ocean floor, feeling hopeless, wishing I could go back to that place again.
It’s that time in which we rise up out of the depths of the dark that I am reminded that Hope is the connector between heaven and earth. That God has given me a glimpse of what healing looks like, and that though I am feeling water-logged and like I have lost my ability to swim temporarily. Even though I can’t seem to make it to the top of the surface for air, that I will indeed get there again
There have been countless moments where I have cried out for God’s help just like Peter in Matthew 14:30: “But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying Lord save me”.
Have I doubted and been angry at God? Yes. Have I asked why? Millions of times. It’s been one year and eight painful months since I last held my sweet Angelina Hope. Angelina went home to our Father in Heaven when she was six months old due to complex heart complications. Today, I want to tell you that if you are experiencing this type of ache, my heart breaks for and with you. That if you allow yourself to face even the stormiest days, that the calm will come. The rays beam through the surface of the ocean exposing light down into the depths. God will meet you in those moments of doubt, pain, and anger.
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Matthew 11: 28-28
It’s when I allow God into the struggle on the days where the waves crash in that I am reminded God is my ever strength in times of trouble. Nothing is impossible without him and “ God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
It’s at this moment that I look at the beauty in this mess of a life. It’s the darkest moments that I search the murky waters for hope.
On the first day of 2016, I got in my car. “I Will Rise” was playing on the radio by Chris Tomlin. Every time I am reading a devotional, or my Bible, or in church, I see the word. Arise. Rise up.
I feel God telling me that it’s time to rise up. That in rising up, I want to heal, but that doesn’t mean I won’t sink again, because I will. It’s a matter of living with heartache for the rest of my life, longing for my daughter and my real home in Heaven.
“Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous. He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart fixed, trusting in the lord.” Psalm 112: 4, 7
That even though Angelina has gone to her real home that God has bigger plans for our story. That arising out of the deep dark waters, we begin to own and accept the broken parts of our heart as they are exposed to the light.
I see glimpses of the shore and the next chapter in our story begins to take shape. God keeps showing me he doesn’t want me at sea forever. His work isn’t finished even though Angelina is in Heaven and being raised by Jesus. That although she isn’t with us in the flesh, she is with us in spirit. That we can take the unbearable pain and use it for incredible purpose. We are living without Angelina, but we love so much more deeply. We see life with a fresh set of eyes, and we want nothing more but to live out the upward calling Christ has called us to.
The morning of Angelina’s Heavenly birthday, a very sweet friend I met in the hospital left me this beautiful necklace beside Angelina’s crib. This saying truly has anchored my soul during some of the most rocky days.
“Sometimes she didn’t know what He was doing, but she knew that He was always good.”
Michelle Volpe is a wife to an Italian, mama to three girls (one who gets to be raised by Jesus). She loves to garden barefoot, raise chickens, go on long runs, and has a major in communications. Find her on her website, on Facebook, or on Instagram.