159: Mattie Jackson Selecman | Tidbits of Joy & Debilitating Grief

Mattie Jackson Selecman, Joy and Grief

Mattie Jackson Selecman | Tidbits of Joy & Debilitating Grief

Mattie Jackson Selecman is a certified sommelier and previously owned a wine bar in Nashville. She also has a degree in creative writing from the University of Tennessee.

Tragically, she lost her husband of less than a year, Ben Selecman, in September 2018 after he suffered a traumatic brain injury while on vacation in Florida. Despite her grief, Mattie is pushing forward and has dedicated herself to helping others.

Mattie and her business partner, Brooke Tometich, started a philanthropic merchandise brand dubbed “NaSHEville” in order to help women and children in need-specifically orphans, widows, and trafficked women.

Mattie Jackson Selecman and Amber discuss her journey of finding joy in debilitating grief after the tragic loss of her husband, Ben. We also talk about honest conversation with a God who cares and living a life she never expected all of which is chronicled in her best selling memoir, Lemons on Friday .

Tidbits of Joy & Debilitating Grief Questions Discussed:

  1. (7:05) Share a little of your faith journey with us.  When did you begin walking with Jesus?
  2. (10:02) Share a bit of what life was like growing up as the daughter of Alan Jackson.
  3. (12:19) In October of 2017 you married Ben Selecman, but 3 weeks before your 1 year anniversary tragedy struck.  Take us back, share about the accident with our listeners, and what life was like those days in the hospital with Ben.
  4. (19:29) In your grief, you began to grapple with questions like, “Why did this happen? What could I have done differently? Where is God?” What did you discover about the steadfast love of God during the first few years of grief?
  5. (24:28) Let’s talk about finding tidbits of joy in the midst of pain and how debilitating grief can co-exist with laughter and moments of joy.
  6. (33:35) You’ve written, “One of my biggest fears when I lost Ben was that my pain wouldn’t matter. I was bold and relentless and, honestly, pretty entitled with the Lord, demanding that he make Ben’s death and my grief help others in some way, any way that might bring purpose to my pain.” How have those prayers been answered?
  7. (37:18) As we close, speak directly to the woman whose journey of grief has just begun.  How would you encourage her for the days ahead?

Quotes to Remember from Tidbits of Joy & Debilitating Grief:

“When tragedy happens, you’re made very aware very quickly what you really believe about God and you can lean into him fully or turn away there’s not a whole lot of room for lukewarm.”

“In those moments [after Ben died], I was so desperate for him. And the ways that he showed up, other people wouldn’t even hardly notice, they were just so intimate and so tender, and so personal.”

“I have felt him almost physically stooping and kneeling, and laying with me in the pain…[F]or most of my life, having been a Christian, I knew God, I knew Jesus as my Savior. That’s the first point, we get it, we believe it. Until Ben died, and I was so desperate and helpless to find goodness in my own story, I didn’t know that he was the sit beside me best friend. I think that’s what I’ve discovered about him. And that’s what I love most about him.”

“There are little sweet ways he reminds you that he’s with you, but he also loves us well through our people.”

“I had never felt sorrow and pain and despair and doubt at that depth. And there was a point at which I realized being this down in the valley is not going to negate me from also experiencing things that will pour back into my soul.”

“When your emotional well has expanded so much, it also expands how richly you can enjoy small things in life….When you hurt so badly, you also learn to celebrate things so much more fervently.”

“I never was happy about anything that was happening, because happiness is circumstantial, and the circumstances were awful. Joy… it’s not something we can create for ourselves. It’s something that is a gift from God. I prayed, ‘Give me little things to sustain me.’ And he did. I also prayed, ‘Give me the eyes to see them.’ Because when you start to train your mind to try to see God everywhere, you start to see him everywhere. It sort of sharpens your spiritual eyesight.”

“One of the most wonderful and powerful things I would tell people that are grieving is don’t avoid those painful places. It’s natural to want to, but pray for the courage to do them, and bring those people around you. It starts to purge the pain from deep levels.”

“One of the kindest things a friend said to me was…, ‘Do you want to talk about Ben right now? Or do you want me to talk about my whole life, so you can be in my world for a minute and not have to think about everything?’ “

“I like myself a lot better than I did four years ago. I’m a kinder person. I hold space for people to hurt in a way that I would have wanted to just fix it and move on before.”

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There are little sweet ways he [God] reminds you that he's with you, but he also loves us well through our people.
One of the most powerful things I would tell people that are grieving is don't avoid those painful places. It's natural to want to, but pray for the courage to do them...It starts to purge the pain from deep levels.

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