Glory to God in the Highest; Advent Grief

I haven’t blogged in over a month.

For me to write openly now is to speak of the inconsequential or to reveal my scars… during a most vulnerable season.  I tend to carefully hide them knowing many well-meaning and loving people may accidentally rip them open with platitudes or Christian cliches. Self-care is my best training. I have learned to practice what I preach. 

So, I guard my heart, and in doing so, the healing is deeper, lasting, and I am more available to help others throughout the year. 

I can write trivia, or I can be real. I can write blessings, or I can speak truth. Social media has become so negative. It used to be a nice way to stay in touch, share views, see photos, have fun. Now, it has become a political platform and a place of personal catharsis. My desire to meet hurting people in the places of my wounds is risky at times,  but it is a gift. God moves in Truth. He heals in Truth. He abides in Truth.

There are people out there like me – people who have been deeply wounded by great losses and further traumatized at the hands of others in the name of Jesus. Lots of them. Many have not found their way back to the God who loves them. Some have never tasted His love. Some will hide behind their own Christian cliches and happy scriptures covering up the darkness in their hearts and the fear in their souls.

People who have had all of their plans for life thwarted, tossed aside, crumpled up, and turned inside out; blown away in a wispy cloud carrying all of their dreams. 

People who need to know that God truly loves them and it wasn’t He who spoke in cliches or trite comments, but it is He who weeps for them even when they don’t.

People who need to love the church again, if they ever did at all – with all her flaws, perfections, heartaches and joys. It isn’t Jesus speaking unkind words. It isn’t God unleashing negativity or all over their lives. 

Advent tears

Genuine compassion cries for the broken and bleeding.

She is beautiful this church of Christ. She is also flawed, arrogant, heartless, selfish, hurting, needy, broken, and desperately needing to learn to listen to the heartbeat of humanity.

Just like me.

I am a torn member of the body of Christ who sometimes behaves more like an infected appendix than a beating heart.

We are all walking stained glass windows revealing works of art replete with imperfections woven throughout. Flaws that Jesus fills with color making us beautiful reflections of the One who calls us loved – to those who are equally imperfect. Like stained glass we must get intimately close, even pressing our noses against the cold to see through the colored haze and into hearts…

Waiting to be forgiven.

Suffering turns into gold; pain grows into compassion. 

In a few days it will be a quarter century since my son died in a completely preventable, traumatic event.

I should be over it…Christians have hope… my loved one is in a better place… wah-wah, wah-wah… Like the murmur of the Peanuts gang, a nickels worth of faith from tear-less naysayers. 

I will never get over having been so brainwashed in a Christian cult that we gave up all sense of reason and lost a child. I will never get over that I was taught such a distorted view of God that how I lived or what I did mattered more than what He did and how He lived.  I will never get over how unkind people can be when they are convinced they have arrived at all “truth” instead of journeying towards it, in it,and through it.   

I don’t want to.

Healing is not “getting over” the things that formed you, it is embracing the broken, forgiving the offenders, and growing in grace. 

It is forgiving ourselves. 

That I have done. 

If not I would have neither the boldness or the humility to write about life in a cult. 

Please don’t talk to me about declaring the promises of God, or my need for deeper healing. Don’t tell me you will “pray” for me in that patronizing tone of voice that hides your own brokenness or need for “prayer” – as if there is something inherently wrong with lament, and absolutely nothing wrong with your life.

We were willing to die for what we believed. It’s easy to claim or declare when nothing is really at stake. It’s utter foolishness to think otherwise. Ask the Christians in Nigeria, Syria, Haiti, the Philippines, or the countless other countries that are unsafe, war-torn, unhealthy, hungry, and stricken. When you have money and medical, safety and surety it’s easy to believe…When an ambulance can be called and our laws mandate that no in need of urgent care can be left to die on a street.

 When a doctor is an option if you’re sick, a welfare system if you are broke, a soup kitchen if you are hungry.

Perhaps my heart for the poor and needy lies in having lived without any options of medical or financial help. Trust was our only option. As misguided as it was, I understand what it is to pray when prayer is all  you have.  So I grieve when American prosperity gospel lays claims to the sale of a house for more than it’s worth, or a greater blessing just because we think our “Father” has promised it to us. Dave didn’t get a higher paying job, we lost everything in our home, and we are in far worse shape than we have ever been with a bleak looking future. In this world.

We also have more peace in God than we have ever had.

More faith

More trust

More compassion

More empathy

A more abiding presence of God that doesn’t have to worked up, prayed up, or stored up. It isn’t lost, put aside for Sunday, speak in Christianize, or get discouraged when things don’t go our way. I like to think that we understand what I Cor. 13:5 means, Love doesn’t “seek its own way,” or “demand its own way” or “is not selfish” depending upon your personal favorite translation.

I have been broken into a million pieces and put back together by the hand of God. 

One jagged piece at a time.

I will always hear the words that caused the death of my son. They are embedded in my mind. A reminder of how a hardened heart will stifle the ability to hear that beautiful, still, small voice of God, and cause pain in others.

A reminder to listen, love, learn, and lament.

Pain is only one piece of the jagged puzzle.

I am living proof of the power of God to restore even the ugliest circumstances into something beautiful. Loss upon loss, all adding layers and depth to my life by the One who makes all things new.

I wait with expectant hope for some of the “new” things to happen- especially in relationships that have gotten lost in a sea of “what ifs” swallowed by waves of because. I long to see my husband carry his shoulders in the way he did before the burden of one wrong choice locked a yoke of grief about his neck. It’s coming. I see it through eyes of faith. 

I am more about what I can do for God than what He owes me. To be in His presence is enough. To own Him as my own is everything. The presence of God is my breath of life. I have nothing left in me. Nothing. He has increased. He breathes for me when I can’t. I exhale, He inhales.

The breath of Life

This time of the year is a reminder of so many losses. Unknown to most. Yet, this season is a season of expectant and glorious HOPE.

This time of year I reminded that my child died, but in his dying I learned to live in the One who lived to die for me. Mind boggling? Yes, to me too. But it is what I hang my ornament of Hope on during the season of promise.  And loss.

 I stand among those who passionately love God in spite of it all and daily live in the joy and peace of knowing the Savior in the deepest recesses of my heart.

I weep, rejoice, and weep again. And again.

Hosanna in the highest. 

It is how I put one foot in front of the other and have peace in doing it. It is how I serve others with compassion and professionalism.

Emmanuel, God with me.

Healing comes in the face of  child and the form of a bloody cross. 

A memory is are made in a pair of hand sewn mittens – never worn on lifeless hands, unable to scratch the tiny face…

Safely tucked away by the babes sister who knew someday they would heal a portion of her mothers heart. 

No, I don’t ever want to get over it. 

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:11-14

 

 

 

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