I realize I’m venturing into fuzzy theological territory here but I truly believe that somehow, some way the hard things, the traumatic trials, the heartbreaking tragedies of our lives will be represented in Heaven.
But just like Jesus’ glorified but still scarred hands, they will no longer be ugly, misshapen reminders of pain and defeat; they will be beautiful, glorious testimonies to God’s amazing grace and enduring love.
They will shout “Victory!” over every single thing the enemy thought would defeat us and destroy our faith.
Sometimes people ask, “How can you cling to Jesus when He could have saved your son, but didn’t?”
I give the same answer Peter gave, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
Even though I said I’d be taking August off, here I am because I think teachers, parents, friends and family members need this reminder at the beginning of every school year.
Siblings are often forgotten grievers. But they shouldn’t be.
They have not only lost a brother or sister but also the family they once knew and relied upon. They (if young) may not have the capacity to express or process these losses in ways adults comprehend or recognize. And if older, they may work hard at hiding grief so as not to add to their parents’ burden.
It’s so, so important for those who love and serve bereaved siblings to pay attention, to offer support, to grant space and grace and freedom of expression. They are grieving too.
I am always afraid that Dominic will be forgotten.
I’m afraid that as time passes, things change and lives move forward, his place in hearts will be squeezed smaller and smaller until only a speck remains.
Not in my heart, of course.
Or in the hearts of those closest to him, but in general-he will become less relevant.
But he is not the only one who can be forgotten. I am just as fearful that my living children will be forgotten.
It took me a little while to realize that if I was going to survive this lifelong journey I had to make some changes in how and when I responded to requests to do something, be somewhere or participate in outside events.
Because no matter how worthy the request, there was only so much of me to go around and I was forced to spend nearly all my energy and time and effort on figuring out how this great wound was impacting me and my family.
I cannot overemphasize how much strength and energy is needed to do the work grief requires.
There’s a kind of relational magic that happens when people who have experienced the same or similar struggle get together.
In an instant, their hearts are bound in mutual understanding as they look one to another and say, “Me too. I thought I was the only one.”
It was well into the second year after Dominic ran ahead to heaven that I found an online bereaved parent support group. After bearing this burden alone for so many months, it took awhile before I could open my heart to strangers and share more than the outline of my story.
But, oh, when I did! What relief! What beautiful support and affirmation that every. single. thing. that was happening to me and that I was feeling was normal!
Truth is, beyond my single vote or my social media post or a letter (remember those!) I might write to an elected official or the editor of a local paper, I don’t have much influence in the larger world.
But I can absolutely make my family, my place of worship and my community a safe space for reasonable people to share opinions, seek solutions and save the best parts of what makes us human.
There’s not a lot I can add to this post from last year-it’s all about giving and receiving grace.
It’s about refusing to label, categorize, dehumanize, point fingers and standing steadfast for long held ideas without considering new information and new insights.
We’ve got to do better, y’all.
We have to.
There is so much going on right now in our country and our world that hurts my heart.
I could get on my soapbox and pontificate about what policies should be or what politicians should do but my tiny voice wouldn’t make a difference on the grander stage.
My world is pretty small in comparison to social influencers and the ones who want to be.
Even still, what I do and what I say each day matters.
On the one hand Death is the triumph of Satan, the punishment of the Fall, and the last enemy. Christ shed tears at the grave of Lazarus and sweated blood in Gethsemane: the Life of Lives that was in Him detested this penal obscenity not less than we do, but more. On the other hand, only he who loses his life will save it. We are baptized into the death of Christ, and it is the remedy for the Fall.
Death is, in fact, what some modern people call “ambivalent.” It is Satan’s great weapon and also God’s great weapon: it is holy and unholy; our supreme disgrace and our only hope; the thing Christ came to conquer and the means by which He conquered.
~C.S. Lewis, Miracles
Bury a child and suddenly the death of Christ becomes oh, so personal.
The image of Mary at the foot of the cross is too hard to bear.
Chole identifies several groups that were in proximity to Jesus as He was dying on the cross.
Perhaps two people were silenced by grief or gently sobbing.
The others were taunting Him, mocking Him and reveling in His [apparent] inability to save Himself or be rescued by the Father He claimed close connection to.
They had no idea that His death was a last act of willing submission and laying aside of His power, position and possible retribution against those who had put Him there.
Love held Him to the cross-not nails or impotence.
So today I fast criticism.
I will fast judging others based on half-truths or even whole ones that cast them into a role other than as an image-bearer of our God.
Every single person I meet is bearing up under some kind of burden. Every face I see has an untold story behind the smile, frown, scowl or tears.
And every single human being is known and loved by the God who made them and the Savior who died to redeem them.
Today, fast criticism. From the clerk moving slowly to the homeless vet on the streets, consider carefully that Jesus knows them by name. Today, seek to know more, assume less, and air prayers for Jesus’ ‘least of these’ boldly in the presence of your shared Father God.
Alicia Britt Chole
**As promised, I am sharing thoughts on 40 DAYS OF DECREASE (a Lenten journal/devotional). If you choose to get and use the book yourself, I’ll be a day behind in sharing so as not to influence anyone else’s experience. **
It’s funny how child loss has, at the same time, made me more yielding and more steadfast.
I give in without a moment’s hesitation to other people’s choice in where to go for lunch, what to do for birthdays, how to arrange this or that at church. My brain simply doesn’t have the capacity any more to argue over trifles.
But I will stand up to a lion for the sake of love or to protect a hurting heart.