Can’t Have it Both Ways…

At this stage in my grief journey I have learned to exercise the “just ignore it” muscle that allows me to scroll through Facebook without taking comments personally.

Most of the time.

But yesterday a grieving mama posted a tribute to her missing daughter complete with a beautiful photo collage and a sweet message that included sharing her feelings.

This mama revealed that her heart was broken, that she missed her daughter and that she was oh, so proud of her and thankful for the years they had together.

Many comments were simply, “Praying for you” or “Love you”.

But one comment stuck out.  This person said, “She wouldn’t want you to be sad.  She’s at peace in heaven with Jesus.” 

Really??!!  

How is that helpful?  

In a single line you have dismissed this mama’s honest and appropriate feelings and implied you know her daughter better than she does.

Of course she’s in heaven with Jesus.  As believers in Christ we know that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

But knowing that, trusting that truth makes grief easier to bear, it does not erase it.

Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “We do not grieve as those without hope.” (I Thess. 4:13)

NOT “We do not grieve.”

Here’s something you need to know: hurting with hope still hurts. The sting of death might have been removed, but it still stings. No, we might not sorrow as those who have no hope, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be sad.

Levi Lusko, Through the Eyes of a Lion

Grief is the price we pay for love.  

Grief is an appropriate and proportionate response to the death (the end of earthly companionship) of someone we love.

If grief is small, what does that say about love?

It can’t be both ways.  

We cannot celebrate a mother’s love and then dismiss her grief.

So my answer to that comment was this:

It’s perfectly OK to be sad.  Death is awful. And missing is hard. Praying that the Lord will bring a special memory-one that has been tucked away in your hearts but mostly forgotten-to mind today and that it will bring a smile to your lips. May you feel the Lord’s Presence today and may He sing a song of love, grace and mercy over your shattered heart

God’s grief over a world of people doomed to eternal separation from Himself was to send His only Son as a sacrifice.

Why was the grief so great?  Why was He willing to pay that price?

Because His love is infinitely greater.  

Image result for image john 3 16

 

 

 

Orlando: Beyond the Headlines

Let me begin by saying I purposely remove myself from the 24/7 news cycle that beats our ears and tries hard to hammer hearts into whatever shape a particular organization deems most meritorious.

So it is no surprise that I was unaware of the Orlando tragedy until well into the day on Sunday.

And I don’t know what the pundits and politicians or social media gurus are saying.

I only know how it feels.  

I know how it feels to have an officer come to your door and tell you that your child is never coming home.

I know how it feels to receive the devastating news that whatever you said the last time you saw or spoke to your child is the LAST thing you will ever have the opportunity to say to them.

I know how it feels to stand, dumbstruck and reeling, with the instant realization that your world has been wrecked beyond repair-To have to whisper to your heart, “you’ve got to make calls, make connections, make arrangements”.

Oh! My!  

Why, why, why can we not as a nation simply step back and embrace those who have lost so much instead of standing on the ruins of their lives and posturing for ratings, rankings and political, social or moral agendas????

I wrote before, when commenting  here on the incident at the Cincinatti zoo:

If we covered the stories of families who have lost children with the same zeal and creative journalism as we do the lives and deaths of endangered animals, that would change.

If the despair, heartbreak, brokenness and utter horror of bereaved parents’ lives were on display like the sickening piles of poached elephants and rhinos then at least we could have a discussion that was more informed and even-tempered.

We are a death avoidant culture-we splatter gore across the screen in video games and movies-but we DO NOT discuss the ongoing impact loss has on the ones left behind.

These lives are not numbers, they are not just names or a sweet little synoptic bio plastered on Twitter, Facebook or an AP newswire.  

They are people-with families, friends and loved ones.

There is a single, appropriate response to this tragedydeep mourning for the lives lost to hatred and violent action and prayer for the ones left behind.

I refuse to entertain the musings and posturing of ANYONE who does not first-and for an appropriate length of time-acknowledge the loss of sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers-each a unique creation with an eternal soul.

Tears.

TEARS are what should be filling the airwaves, the streets, our altars.

weep with those who weep

 

 

The Sound of Silence

Busy, busy, busy and noisy, noisy, noisy.

Every day is full of activity and every minute full of sounds-television, radio, Itunes or Pandora.

holy-solitude

 

 

I am, at the same time, hyper-connected and dis-connected. My mind is often full but my heart can feel empty. 

 

 

If I can move fast enough or create sufficient distraction, then maybe I can ignore the harder questions, the deeper thoughts, the uncomfortable feelings that I would rather not explore.

Being in one’s own company alone with God is challenging.  Without the noise of outside distraction I am forced to face my fears and hidden darkness.  And in the quiet I find that the easy answers leave me empty and unsatisfied.  I must listen carefully for the still, small Voice that whispers comfort.

If I want to hear from God I need to embrace solitude and make space to hear.

 

 

Thankful But Broken

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday.

My birthday sometimes falls on the day itself, and I have often been able to celebrate with extended family and friends-a full table of food and a full house of fellowship.

I love the colors of fall, the scents of cinnamon and pumpkin, the freedom from gift-giving pressures that lets me focus on the people in my life.

A few years ago, Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts, was published sparking a renewed interest in the Christian community to focus on thankfulness as a way to open our hearts to the goodness and faithfulness of God and to open our hands and lives to serve others from our bounty.

An invitation to trust and not be afraid.

Across social media, people began to post , “Today I am thankful for___________.” Instagram.  Facebook.  Twitter.  Good stuff, and good reminders.

And I am thankful.

Really.

I am thankful that my family has managed to survive the loss of Dominic without going crazy  or becoming bitter or running away. We continue to support, love and care for one another.

I am thankful for the few, special friends who have made it a priority to visit me, love me and give me a safe space to vent my grief.

I am thankful that I have food to eat, a place to live and clothes to wear.

I am thankful for my Bible, the one I got while carrying Dominic beneath my heart-the one filled with notes, prayers and underlined passages-because it reminds me that God is still God even when I can’t feel Him.

But I am broken.

Truly.

Losing a child, not being able to save the life your love created, not being there when he breathed his last, not holding his hand as he entered eternity-that is humbling.

My November and Thanksgiving will be quieter than in years past.

No daily posts.  No long lists.

I will lean in and listen hard for the whispered promises that one day heartache will end.

I will open my heart and hand to a hurting world.

I will trust and not be afraid.