Barbara Bush, Bereavement and Being Brave

Barbara Bush, who died Tuesday, said she didn’t fear death. That may be because the 92-year-old former first lady faced it before, in the hardest way imaginable.

~Steve Hendrix, Washington Post article 4-18-18

Barbara Bush was many things-wife, mother, First Lady, spokesperson for literacy and charitable foundations. 

She was bold.

She was sometimes blunt. 

But she was always brave.

Barbara and george larger

Early in her marriage to George she faced what no parent ever wants to endure.  Her (then) only daughter, Robin, was diagnosed with leukemia in the days when cancer was barely understood and often not even spoken aloud.

Because their family had the means, and because Barbara was committed to fight for her daughter, they flew to the East Coast and endured months of treatment that only delayed Robin’s death, but did not cure her.

They returned to their Texas home a family minus one.

I’ve thought a lot about the many, many years Barbara lived after that terrible blow.  I always do the math whenever any famous person who has buried a child follows their heart home to Jesus and reunion.

While there are days when I am utterly overwhelmed by the fact I may live for many decades with the burden of missing my son, days like today-when I have the bold, brave witness of Barbara Bush’s life to encourage me-I think I just might make it.  

barbara bush 2014

I long for my life to be just such a witness.  

I want to live well and fruitfully in the years I have left.  

I want to leave a legacy of love for those that come behind. 

I want to be brave. 

The death of a child is so painful, both emotionally and spiritually, that I truly wondered if my own heart and spirit would ever heal … I soon learned that I could help myself best by helping others … it wasn’t until Robin died that I truly threw myself into volunteer work. That precious little girl left our family a great legacy. I know George and I care more for every living person because of her. We learned firsthand the importance of reaching out to help because others had reached out to us during that crucial time.

~Barbara Bush (1925-2018)

 

Can I Get A Witness?

What, exactly, is the value of believers in Jesus plastering an “Everything is fine” mask across our faces?

Are we afraid that if we allow someone to see our pain we are letting God down?

And how could that be?

Did not Christ Himself beg the Father in the Garden to take the cup from Him?

jesus in the garden

Yet we smile and wave and chat our way through encounters with people around us, pretending, pretending, pretending that life is easy when it most certainly is not.

all broken trees

Denying the dark and refusing to acknowledge the depth of our pain diminishes the value of the comfort of Christ.

When David wrote that, “yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Thou art with me” he understood both the desperate need for and the great assurance of Christ’s Presence.

When we allow others to see our broken hearts, we also bear testimony to the sustaining grace of Jesus.

heals the broken hearted

And we extend an invitation for them to meet this Savior that gives strength and comfort even in the darkest hours and hardest journeys.

walk with the broken toby mac

 

 

Please-Just. Listen.

It’s hard-it’s hard to stay the words that come unbidden to mind and threaten to fly out of your mouth.

It takes restraint.  And patience.  And wisdom.

But when I finally open my locked box of hurt and pain and memories and heartache-please, please-just listen.

I know better than you that nothing anyone says, or does or hopes to do can change the facts.

Dominic’s not here-he’s there.

And I also know that makes you feel helpless.  I feel helpless too.

I’m not looking for pity.  I don’t want attention.  I have no desire to make you sad.

I have to let it out or I’ll burst.  If others saw the fullness of emotions brimming in my heart they would stand amazed that I could push them down and keep them inside so much of the time.

But speaking my sorrow is empowering.  

It provides a witness.  It means that he matters, that I matter and that this awful reality is recognized by someone other than just me.

When you shut me down or shut me out I. am. crushed.

Again.

In the end, you can walk away.  You have another life to go back to.  My pain is tangential to the reality of your every day.

It is central to mine.

So, please-encourage my heart with compassionate presence and just listen.

presence best gift

 

 

 

Loving the Wounded

God bless the inventor of Band Aids!

That little tacky plaster has soothed more fears and tears than almost any other invention in the world.

Skinned knee?  Put a BandAid on it.

Bee sting?  BandAid.

Tiny bump that no one can even see?  Oh, sweetie, let me give you a BandAid.

Simply acknowledging pain and woundedness is so often all that is needed to encourage a heart and point it toward healing.

It’s the same in the world of emotional, psychological and spiritual wounds.

But we have yet to invent the BandAid for those.

band aid and heart

Instead, frequently we ignore, refute, minimize and pass over the one in our midst who holds out a hand or a heart saying, “I have a boo boo.”

Believe me, I understand-so many of these wounds are incurable, they are uncomfortable to think about, hard to look at.compassion and stay with you

But often the only thing the hurting heart wants is acknowledgement, a moment of time, a face turned full into theirs, eye-to-eye and unafraid to remain alongside through the pain.

Just as a BandAid bears witness to the wound underneath, our compassionate presence can bear witness to the deeper wounds no one can see.

When we choose to lean in and love, to listen and learn, to walk with the wounded we give a great gift.

compassion is a choice