“The ground began to shake.
The stone was rolled away.
His perfect love could not be overcome.
Now Death, where is your sting?
Our resurrected King,
Has rendered you defeated.”
My mom was my greatest teacher.
She taught me my abcs and my numbers in English and Spanish. She taught me how to tie my shoes. I clearly remember the afternoon she taught me how to round; we had just finished my regular math homework and she urged me to read the next chapter and let her teach me the new concept so that I could know all the answers in class the next day when the teacher introduced it. She taught me the “30 days has September” song for memorizing how many days are in each month. During high school algebra, she taught me about Chief SohCahToa. She seemed to have a song or a rhyme for nearly every concept known to man.
But her greatest lesson was her last:
My mom taught me how to die.
When she died, comfortably laid up in that hospital bed, surrounded by those of us closest to her, it was as if she took the sting of Cancer, the physical pain of her disease, the anguish of her untimely departure and brushed it defiantly like dirt off of her shoulders as she walked into everlasting life.
The moment after she died, I remember being torn somewhere between collapsing in tears onto my husband’s arms or giving her a standing ovation.
She did it.
What I aspire to.
She lived well. She loved well. She gave it all. She pleased God. She honored her wedding vows til the death. She ran her race and finished well.
So much has happened to me since she left, both good and bad. One of the best pieces of advice I have received since my mother’s passing is to look for the good that has come from the situation because it is our promise that all things work for good to those who love him and are called by Him.
Before my mom’s passing I struggled with fear of death. Not in a normal, healthy way, but in a debilitating, irrational way. No matter what was going on, in my head I could think of the most random scenarios that would result in my death. I often could not sleep for fear that something or someone was going to harm me. The fear was absolutely gripping. I would wake up stone-cold, my hands and feet sore from the tension, and shivers deep in my chest.
Leaving places at night and walking alone to my car, my heart would race and I would play a million scenarios in my head as to how I could be abducted and how I would try to fight back.
I had trouble driving because I anticipated and expected a freak accident at every turn. Long trips required me to be pretty much sedated. If my husband went out of town on business, I would have to distract myself while he flew so that I wouldn’t come undone. The nights he was gone, I slept with the lights on, the TV playing, and a kid on my bed. Waiting for him to return home were the most excruciating long nights of my life.
This went on for years.
I thought I was strong because I didn’t allow the fear to paralyze me. I pushed back and lived as much of a normal life as I could in spite of it. But those close to me knew I was always afraid. In my heart, I knew that was not God’s best for me, I knew I ought to bring every thought captive. I did what I could. I prayed. I prayed a lot. And I guarded my mind. I was selective about what I watched and listened to. I tried to nourish my spirit and not feed my fears. And as I said, I didn’t stop living. But I yearned to be free.
When my mom went through her battle, I saw with my own eyes, from the front row seat, what it is to die. That experience, and the way she handled it, showed me that dying isn’t the worst thing that can happen to someone. Night after night, as I sat next to her through the endless hours, watching the nurses come in and out of her room, listening to the Doctors give bad report upon bad report, I was amazed by her poise, her strength. Never did she despair. Never did she lose hope. Never did she become bitter. And when she closed her eyes for the last time, she seemed so at peace. So sure of what was to come. So satisfied. It blew me away how such a frail and sickly body could also house such a powerful soul.
Never again have I feared death. For one, death means I will see my mom again. That’s a win.
But more importantly, I finally got it through my head that there really is nothing to fear. Jesus conquered death. Death is not the end. Death has been defeated. Death is a doorway. I knew that. I’d known that all my life. But perhaps I’m a hands-on learner. Once I witnessed it, the power of living hope, I became free.
Now death, where is your sting?
The moment those words exit my lips I automatically feel absolutely badass! Yup, mom jeans, inkless skin, plain Jane haircut, and all. What makes me fierce and a force to be reckoned with isn’t a tough girl attitude. It’s not that I do what I want without any apologies. It’s not what I drink or don’t drink. It’s not how I party. It’s not how I choose to style my hair or my clothes. It’s not how I adorn my body. It’s not where I live, how fat my bank account is, who I roll with, or how many followers I have on social media. It’s that through Jesus Christ, I have conquered that which tried to conquer me. Because He already defeated death, and I have accepted him as Lord and Savior, I am a rightful co-heir to the victory.
Today, I pray that through whatever experience necessary, God will free you from anything that has enslaved you. Whether it’s fear, pride, addiction, hate, or whatever it is. I pray that you will be able to stand face to face with that thing and say, “where is your sting?” I pray you will live as the conqueror you are through Christ.
Thanks for reading!