I have asked a few of my friends who have recently gone through change and transition to share with you part of their story of growth. I am inspired by these women, their stories, and how they are trusting The Lord in the Midst of it, and I am confident you will be too.
Today you will here from my dear friend Mel. Melody Latrice is poet, writer and storyteller living a gospel-centered life in Orlando, Fla. She creates culture through her writings and plans to change the world through her words. She enjoys gardening, old school R&B and cooking light in her free moments. I have known Melody since 2001 when we both started internships with The Impact Movement and we have been dear friends since then. She even stood by me as a bridesmaid as I said my vows to my husband. She is a gifted writer at heart – what artist do with paint & canvas she accomplishes with words & paper – art. She is kind, genuine, hilarious and honest and I am privileged to call her friend.
I don’t like change all that much. Yet it continues to penetrate my life, specifically in the losses and lessons of these last 12 months. Losses that include a beautiful 82 year-old grandmother named Lena Mae who I believed secretly had a superwoman cape hidden under her clothes. She was just incredible – laughter and love wrapped up into southern hospitality at its best. She was safe. She was human. She was mine. And she died unexpectedly of a heart attack.
Ten days after my family buried her I was rear-ended by a driver who lost control of her vehicle. The collision totaled my car, which was given to me as a gift six years prior and paid for. The physical impact of the crash required six months of chiropractic rehab for my neck and spine.
The emotional trauma left me with diminished mental capacity, anxiety driving and a fragile heart that wondered “Why would God allow this much pain in such a concentrated way into my life?”
On the heels of these experiences, I also lost the opportunity to mentor children I tutored for three years at a local community center. The center closed because of low funding. Seeing the kids for the last time, I tearfully said goodbye and thought “This is not the way it’s supposed to be.”
Two more losses took place in 2013 – in the spring and at the year’s end – also pouring into this concentrated funnel of pain. My pastor of eight years resigned because of a moral failure in his life. Significant transitions were coming at my job and several people I’d come to love as family would be leaving the organization later that spring.
I’ve experienced an incredible amount of change and transition in these losses. I’m finding God in the rubble as the journey toward healing ebb and flow into my life. In my mourning I’ve ached for a way to communicate my feelings in simple but intentional ways. Music became my interpreter. It reminds me I’m alive – in all of its gritty blues, playful country twang, honeyed rhythms and sweet succession of sounds.
Grief silenced my words as a writer for a very long time. Music helped me find them again. Songs by Lady Antebellum, Yo-Yo Ma, Etta James, Bobby Womack and India.Arie give me the gift of dreaming again. They amplify my emotions as I’ve discovered how to live again through change – be it a death, physical trauma, seasons ending, workplace shifts and more.
God uses different things to help us in life. People sometimes. Places next time. Things this time. Music is my thing right now. And it’s helping me express my grief as I ache for people and experiences that have left my life. In these changes I’m determined to fight to keep my heart open and take the risk of loving, even though losses are a reality of living.
I’m learning that suffering is a part of being alive and grieving is hard work. God’s grace towards me is tender as I mourn. Author H. Norman Wright says grief affects everyone but mourning is a choice and the place where that grief can be expressed. I agree.
The first few months after my grandmother died and the car accident I couldn’t read the Bible even though I tried. I had no mental fortitude to sit, focus my thoughts, read and internalize the words.
God met me where I was. In the midst of me feeling inadequate to read and study his Word, he used his own audible voice instead and spoke his words directly to my heart. He also gave me music to help me express my emotions and a nearness from him that anchored my soul. The God of the universe stepped into my grief – sobs, anger, depression, questions – and stays in it with me as he walks me toward healing.
In this journey I’ve discovered that my faith has changed. It’s deeper. It’s more human. My relationship with God now includes an intimacy of “being known” by him that no other joy or defeat up to this point ever provided. I’m changing with these changes and I’m learning to live anew from these losses.
My mourning continues. And I’m alive, tears and all.