Grieving, Gardens & Grandma//Lindsey//CNU

Ever since I can remember my family has planted a garden. Not just your small, two row garden in a planter of sorts…I’m talking “semi large, row after row of vegetable plants” type of garden. In the summer we usually grow tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, squash and this year we had sunflowers, which were so pretty. In the fall we’ve been known to grow pumpkins. My parents and I look forward to this time every year because of the anticipation of what’s to come, yummy tasting vegetables of course. My favorite part of having grown up with a garden is the “first pick.” Watching the seeds grow and turn into a plant is great but actually reaping the rewards from the hard work put into a garden is truly satisfying.

There’s one particular person that I think helped to instill this appreciation in my life and that is my grandma, who I call ‘Nanny.’ Nanny absolutely loved being outside. People who drove by her house knew to always look in the yard because she was either siting on the swing, helping mow the grass, or simply picking up sticks and pinecones. Similarly, she loved her garden and cherished the time spent tending to it. While she helped to give me an appreciation for nature and God’s creation, she also helped to paint a beautiful picture about what living a life for Christ meant. She taught me so much over the years and until recently, I thought of and reflected on this garden analogy. In a way, Nanny’s life, and ours too are like gardens. We are each individually thought of, created and delicately planted. We are made for a specific purpose and spend our lives living out that purposeful plan just as the seed is planted and grown to fulfill its job.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully make’ your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139: 13-14

Just like the seed is protected in the ground, we are too comforted and protected in the womb. Once we are born and begin to grow older, we experience more of the world, just as the young plant experiences the elements of earth. Throughout our journey on earth we have the opportunity to give praise and glory to our creator just as the seed can show off itself because of the work and care of the gardener. I tell you all of this because current season of life and how recent event have given me a new love and respect for our garden that we call life.

On September 15, my life as I knew it changed. I don’t mean to sound incredibly dramatic but at the time I truly felt as if it had. My family and I wdd62d371cd589e766b74bafd0356fd72ere forced to deal with the sudden death of Nanny and we were no way near prepared. My sweet, vibrant and independent Nanny became ill over a matter of days and would not recover, as the mysterious infection would take over her entire body. We were shocked and heartbroken. It’s been about a month and we are still shocked and heartbroken.

Once again, I am reminded of how our life is like a garden. The garden’s prime is harvest when the plants that are planted are ready to be picked and eaten. Nanny’s prime was up until the very end when she could no longer rely on her earthly body. She had given her life to the Lord at a young age and spent her time as a mom and grandma while tending to her own spiritual garden. As time goes on and we get older our body fades, just like after all of the vegetables in a garden have been picked, the plant itself begins to die and there is no use for the garden. The soil and nutrients are returned back to the ground where it began. In a way, our earthly body is the same way. After our time on Earth is over we will one day exchange this earthly body for a spiritual body. I am reminded of a verse in 1 Corinthians where we understand how as image bearers of God, we have been given the opportunity to exchange our broken body for a spiritual body.

“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body” 1 Corinthians 15: 42-44

“And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.” 1 Corinthians 15:49

It’s been a difficult to understand the events that have taken place over the past month. Dealing with the loss of someone so close to me has been extremely painful and at times unbearable. It’s taken a while for me to truly process all of it because it happened so suddenly. At times, I feel extremely sad and lonely, knowing that I am going through this without my parents and family in close proximity to me and when I go home I will not be able to see her. But, there is good news, my family and I were comforted during that long week in September and we have been comforted ever since. Yes, we all feel as though a huge piece of our family is missing. Adjusting to our new normal has been a difficult transition. In the midst of trial, I am reminded of this verse in Romans because it has truly helped me to rest in knowing that God’s plan is far greater than what I could ever imagine and I have to trust that he does all things for GOOD.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

God is constant and has been by my side and my family’s side the entire time. There is no timeline for grief or suffering. Some suffer their entire life. Some suffer temporarily. I do not have to look at the finish line to know when my grieving will end. I do know that God will be by my side the entire time as I run this marathon of my adjusting to my new normal. That is so comforting. Understanding that this life on Earth is temporary can be a shocking thing. But, understanding what our hope and faith is rooted in is even better. Yes, I miss Nanny every day but I am becoming more aware that she is happier, without pain and rejoicing with Jesus in heaven. My prayer is that you find peace and comfort with any grief or suffering you might be going through and that your rest in knowing of the great that is to come in our eternal reward.

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Hey y’all! My name is Lindsey Tate and I am a senior at Christopher Newport University! I’m a Psychology Major with a double Minor in Leadership Studies and Childhood Studies! I’ll be sticking around CNU for another year post undergrad to get my Master’s in the Art of Teaching, a graduate program offered through CNU. It’s been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember to be an elementary school teacher and CNU is helping make that a reality. I’m growing a lot this semester as I am currently in a season of grief after losing my grandma rather suddenly. I am learning my need for Jesus daily and continue to draw near to him through prayer. In my spare time I enjoy playing piano, scrolling through Pinterest and watching and re-watching episodes of Friends.