Why Do We Turn Away?

The news goes out over Facebook, over phone lines, over prayer chains and everyone shows up.

Crowds in the kitchen, in the living room, spilling onto the lawn.

It’s what you do.

And it’s actually the easiest part.  Lots of people, lots of talking, lots of activity keep the atmosphere focused on the deceased and the family.  The conversation rarely dips to deeper waters or digs into harder ground:  “Where was God?”;  “Why him?”;  “Why do ‘bad’ things happen to ‘good’ people?”

But eventually the busyness and noise gives way to stillness and silence.

That’s when the harder part starts.

The long hours of nightime darkness that invite questions that demand answers.  The quiet hours of daylight that insist on playing a home movie of the years that went before. Forcing me to wrestle.  Tossing me in the ring of trying to reconcile this tragedy with my worldview.

And many people turn away from the spectacle.  

Even good, loving, Christ-following friends find it hard to stick around and watch.

Because it challenges their worldview too.  

It makes them wonder if what they have always believed about God is true.  It makes them fearful that if it could happen to my son and to me, it could happen to their child and to them.  Ir raises questions, they’d rather not answer.

And they don’t have to answer them-YET-because their lives haven’t been turned upside down and inside out.

So they run.

They stop calling, they stop coming and they keep their distance in public spaces.

It hurts.

A lot.

It’s human nature to avoid pain.  No one marches headlong into suffering. Empathy requres energy.  Compassion demands opening your heart to the hurt hiding inside someone else’s.

I understand, truly I do.  

If I could find a place where sorrow and longing couldn’t find me, I would stay there forever.  But I can’t.  I have to carry this load, I have to face the tough questions, I have to work hard to give my heart a chance.

It is so much easier when others come alongside.  I feel so much stronger when others choose to call courage to my broken heart.  I find great comfort in knowing that someone is willing to risk their own comfort to bear witness to my pain and struggle.

Please don’t lower your eyes and hide.  Raise them and help heal.

I know it’s hard and you don’t have to, but please don’t turn away.  

compassion is a choice

 

 

 

 

 

Hidden Blessings

I’ve always been this way-careful as I walk through the woods.  I don’t remember a time when I could crash unaware of what was underfoot.

So when springtime brings the violets, I find myself zig-zagging this way and that to avoid crushing them as I go about my daily chores.

Often obscured by last year’s leaves-I can make out the vibrant purple peeking from underneath-if I’m paying attention.  

But there are plenty of folks who make it all the way through March and April without ever seeing them.

And that makes me sad.

They are so beautiful.  

I consider them a gift.

It’s easy to race through life and never take note of God’s gifts.  We get busy and distracted and overwhelmed by the need to make a living and we ignore the Lord of life.

If I am going to SEE what He’s doing, how He’s providing, where He is blessing, I have to open my eyes.

But once I do, I find that blessings pop up everywhere.  

Just like springtime violets.

violets-in-wood-not-mine

 

 

The Cup of Sorrow

See, here’s the thing: to the outside world, my son’s death happened at a single point in time.

But to me, his death is a continuous event.

I must lift the cup of sorrow every day to parched lips.  I must choose to take it to the One Who can help me lift it.

Jesus knows this cup.

He knows my pain:  My Cup Overflows

 

My Cup Overflows

“You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5b

I remember standing in our field with my husband at sundown one day, thankfulness and grace and mercy and wonder flooding my heart-and I whispered, “surely my cup overflows!”

Surely, God’s hand is in this, is on our lives-He has brought us to this place of blessing.

And that’s how I used to always think of that verse-the cup overflowing with goodness and blessing.

But what about when the cup overflows with sorrow?  

With pain?

With tragedy, trials and temptations?

jesus in the garden

Jesus knew about that cup.  That’s the cup He begged the Father to take from Him.

The cup that was bitter and hard to swallow.

He prayed three times, He sweat blood and He battled His flesh so that His spirit could conform to the Father’s will.

And in the end, He submitted Himself to the Father’s plan.

He was obedient, even to death, even to death that He did not deserve, did not HAVE to suffer, did not WANT to suffer.

I have buried a son.

And it is the most painful thing I have ever had to bear.

It’s a burden I never anticipated and it’s a burden of which I will not be free until I join him in Heaven.

There are some parents who have suffered the loss of multiple children. Or who have suffered child loss and other difficult life circumstances.

If my cup is full and overflowing, theirs is overflowing still more.

Where to take that full cup?

Where to find the strength to carry it, to drink it to the dregs?

When my heart screams, “No more!” and my body cries, “I can’t do this!”, I look to my Savior for the model of how to carry on.

Only in Christ, Who Himself bore the cup and Who drank its bitter fullness can I hope for strength and redemption.

The One Who knows my pain can carry my pain.

The One Who lives again will breathe life into my heart.  

The One Who redeems what the enemy has stolen will turn my mourning to dancing.  

cup of blessing

This cup will not always overflow with sorrow.  Around the banquet table at the wedding supper of the Lamb, it will once again be full of joy.

You make me know the path of life; in your presence is unbounded joy, in your right hand eternal delight.

Psalm 16:11 CJB