Author Ava Pennington
Author Ava Pennington
Image by Manie Van der Hoven from Pixabay

Anniversaries are usually celebrated. They often mark days we want to remember. Days of joy that make us thankful. Birthdays. Wedding anniversaries. Adoption days.

But we mark some anniversaries reluctantly. Wishing the day did not exist. Hoping it’s all just a bad dream. The memory of those days brings grief, not celebration. Sadness, not joy. We look back, not ahead.

This past week contained one of those days for me. It marked the first anniversary of my husband’s graduation to heaven. “Graduation to heaven” sounds so much better than “death.” But it doesn’t change the fact that, either way, decades of marriage are suddenly gone.

You probably have similar anniversaries in your own life.

The loss of someone precious.

A traumatic accident.

The end of a marriage or other long-term relationship.

This kind of anniversary represents an event thrust upon us. A day we have no choice as to whether to accept. It’s there. The elephant in the room.

So what’s the point? If God uses all things to work together for the ultimate good of His children (Romans 8:28), how do we process these events? How can they possibly work good in and for us?

Here’s some of the “good” I experienced this past year:

  • The end of myself as I’ve learned reliance on my heavenly Father in a new & deeper way.
  • Development of perseverance when it’s difficult or lonely or I’m just plain weary.
  • Learning humility in asking for help.
  • Accepting a new identity as I’ve had to check a new box: widow. Yet married or widowed, both labels are overridden by my most important identity: a child of God
  • Cultivating a new perspective of the future by accepting uncertainty and embracing God’s sovereignty.
  • And finally, appreciating the reality that heaven feels closer and more real because a part of my heart is there.

As I wrote in a recent social media post:

One year today.
One year since my life partner was called Home.
One year that can feel like one day, and other times, one decade.

One year of living without the one who divided my sorrows and multiplied my joys.
One year of pursuing challenges without my strongest cheerleader. 
One year of learning to live without the one who loved me unconditionally, covered my weaknesses, and celebrated my strengths.

One year of swimming in the sea of my heavenly Father’s grace through His Son, Jesus.
One year of finding comfort in the Holy Spirit who showed me how to enjoy the gift of shared love, and who shows me how to rest in His peace now that it’s gone.

One year of living in hope, looking forward to the day when years will never be counted again.

How are you processing the losses in your life?
How has God grown you in the process?

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  1. Lucy Corley

    Thank you Ava. My husband also graduated to heaven one year ago. Your remarks hit their mark and I am so grateful to have read your post. I look forward to BSF next month and strengthening my relationship with God. My best to you.

  2. Jane Kneupper Roach

    Beautifully expressed, dear friend.

  3. Sue Chess

    So very well said, Ava! “One year of swimming in the sea of my heavenly Father’s grace…”

  4. Suzann Zoltner

    As always Ava, a beautiful piece. Love you.

  5. Debra Allard

    I both rejoice with you on the anniversary of your husband’s graduation to heaven and mourn with you over the loss of his presence at your side. For me, God and time have been my healers. When too weary to walk and when I felt faint, He carried me through. What a blessing to feel His presence upholding us, comforting us, and bringing us unexpected joys. For even in the midst of our sorrows, God sends words of encouragement and hope, the comfort of friends, and joyful moments that light up our lives. May He carry you through, dear friend, and shower you with untold blessings that you will know how deep and how wide are the love and compassion of your Heavenly Father. 💗

  6. Cheryl Reed

    Ava, God has truly used this tragedy in your life for His glory. Your strength, deeper wisdom and reliance on He who is All in All is apparent. You are shining your light out into the world, in doing so you are blessing Gods people. Your confession that your learning the humility of asking for help is a lesson we can all learn from. God bless you, thank you for your transparency and sharing your precious heart with us. Much love- Cheryl

  7. Ava Pennington

    Thank you for your encouragement, Cheryl.

  8. chericowell

    I am honored to know you and love you through this season. You are beautiful.

  9. Ava Pennington

    Awww, Cheri, thank you! So grateful for our friendship, dear one!

  10. Kathleen Watson

    Having loved so deeply and and the earthly moments cut short God has given me this as a pillow of comfort… He has replaced the aching and brutal emptiness in my soul with a new kind of joy. A joy that covers like a favorite blanket over the wound of sorrow and brings forward a smile. A smile attached to a memory that was temporarily blocked by the pain. Each memory that comes has a healing presence that comes with it. Take them as they come. Cherish them. Together with all the pieces of your heart love comes forward and sorrow steps back. Thank u God for your mercy in this journey 💜

  11. Ava Pennington

    Thank you for your beautiful words and heartfelt advice, Kathleen.

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