If I had to name just one emotion most prominent in my grief, I think it would be fear. When your heart is crushed by the weight of loss, there is certainly profound sadness, but fear has been there too, many times even stronger than the sorrow that lives beneath it. When I started this website, I promised it would be a truthful account of living out my life after loss. I warned you sometimes it would be beautiful, sometimes funny, and sometimes ugly.
I have to admit many times I worry about how you’ll perceive what I’m writing. I think about how I might be judged. It’s tricky to pour out my heart in a truthful way, especially when my truth doesn’t feel very uplifting. From the beginning I’ve desired to be an encouraging voice. I’ve wanted to glorify God through the words I type. I still want this. But right now, my truth is that I’m in a season of lonely, fear and sadness. So, as promised, I’m sharing that too. I’ll leave it up to God to work something beautiful out of it anyway.
The fears I have lately range from small things like I wonder when I’ll need to replace the roof and how much that costs? How long will my car be reliable? To bigger things like who will care for me when I grow sick or old? What if something happens to me and my children are orphaned? What if our democracy collapses and we have to flee? What if my daughter’s student loan debt buries her and ruins her future? And on and on and on. They may not all be rational fears, and they may feel dramatic, but they are what’s eating at me.
Now, as a believer in the Bible’s truth, I know I’m not supposed to fear. God says it so often in his word – do not be afraid! Yet I’m a human and currently engulfed in grief. Somehow that takes my normal vulnerabilities as a regular person and exponentially increases them. I know He tells me not to fear. I know the truth. I know where to find the truth when it becomes unclear, and I know that I should spend even more time IN the truth, so I don’t need to be schooled on that. Sometimes what my heart needs is understanding from people and maybe a hug instead of a pounding over the head with truth. I need extra grace now more than ever and I’m trying harder than ever to GIVE extra grace too. It’s hard. It’s convicting. It can hurt. And I’m terrible at it sometimes.
There’s been a lot of love versus truth going on in my life this week. A battle of some sort over which is more important. It is like gas on my fear fire. What I keep coming back to through Bible reading and prayer is this…They go hand in hand! Love and truth. Love is not better than truth. Truth is not more important than love. And Grace should be right in there too with an equal spot at the table. I keep thinking about the old hymn though…”And they’ll know we are Christians by our…LOVE!”
Of course we all have different ideas about how to love. And we all think we are right. So back to the Bible I go, first trying to prove myself right (just me?) and then I set my stupid ego aside to seek God’s instruction. Do I get it right? I try…and I fail…and I try again…and sometimes I carry it out as He intended and more often than not I probably don’t. I’ll own that.
This week I’ve been told that I’m what give Christians a bad name. That was hurtful. I don’t have thick skin. In fact, I’m ridiculously over-sensitive. It’s how I’m made and I often wish it wasn’t who I am. I’m also part “You can’t tell ME what to do.” It’s a difficult combination. Stand up! Get hurt! Cry and retreat. That’s who I am, as embarrassing as it is to admit. So when I’m confronted about truth and directly and indirectly told I’m doing Christian wrong, it has profound impact on me, and not in the good ways.
This week has been brutal. I’ve watched as friends argue, I’ve tried to intervene because I love them all, and I’ve felt wounded in the battle. Shoot, I’ve been responsible for arguments too, I’m sure. Not intentionally really…but it happened. I’ve felt the sometimes vicious division among believers in a deep and personal way. It’s reignited the grief flame that I naively thought I had tampered down to just a small flicker. The misunderstanding of who I am is burning high and hot over ALL THE THINGS! It has decimated my already broken heart. And it’s left me feeling perhaps the loneliest I’ve felt so far since losing my husband. I feel so alone and more broken than ever.
My heart hurts for Refugees. My heart hurts for everyone currently in fear. I hurt for Black people, Latinos, and the LGBTQ community. I cry for the unemployed, the hungry, the abused, and anyone feeling oppressed. I’m broken for the families experiencing brand-new loss this week. I feel their fresh grief as they pick out songs for funerals. I feel the weight of women struggling to raise their families on less money than it requires. I’m broken for the caregiver and the sick person for which they care. I weep for the unbelievers who are watching and humored by our actions. I’m crushed by the weight of my friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ, who have distanced themselves from me. And I’m wrecked for whatever my role has been in all of that.
Perhaps admitting all of this to you makes me crazy. And maybe I am? Maybe I’ll lose you too because I’m a snowflake or a buttercup who isn’t living out my faith the way you think I should. But I hope not. I don’t want to be part of something that wedges us apart. I want to be part of something that brings us together. Most importantly I want to be whatever it is God wants me to be even if that is something different than what He wants you to be. It is a daily effort to decipher His will for me. It’s a continuous commitment to trust Him. It’s a conscious yet sometimes difficult choice to find the faith that weakens my fears.
What I’ve learned so far in this complicated life is that God loves me. He loves me right where I am. Even and maybe especially when I’m lost in fear and grief. That is my reassurance and my armour.
Are you facing big fears too? Has your grief increased your fears? Am I the only one?
Here is where I found my comfort today. I hope it squashes some of your fears today too. I want you to know I care about you guys – those of you I know and those who I don’t. Those who agree with me, and those who don’t. Thanks for sticking with me, even when it’s ugly.
2 Corinthians 2:4The Message (MSG)
That was my reason for writing a letter instead of coming—so I wouldn’t have to spend a miserable time disappointing the very friends I had looked forward to cheering me up. I was convinced at the time I wrote it that what was best for me was also best for you. As it turned out, there was pain enough just in writing that letter, more tears than ink on the parchment. But I didn’t write it to cause pain; I wrote it so you would know how much I care—oh, more than care—love you!
Isaiah 41:13 (NIV)
For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
Hebrews 10:23-25 (MSG)
So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.
2 Timothy 2:24-26 (MSG)
Run away from infantile indulgence. Run after mature righteousness—faith, love, peace—joining those who are in honest and serious prayer before God. Refuse to get involved in inane discussions; they always end up in fights. God’s servant must not be argumentative, but a gentle listener and a teacher who keeps cool, working firmly but patiently with those who refuse to obey. You never know how or when God might sober them up with a change of heart and a turning to the truth, enabling them to escape the Devil’s trap, where they are caught and held captive, forced to run his errands.
Hebrews 13:6 (NIV)
So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
Deuteronomy 31:6 (MSG)
“Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.”
And in the way He taught us to pray…“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us…”
Extra, extra, EXTRA Grace – all the way around,