I grew up in the Church eating Wednesday night fried chicken and sneaking into the kitchen for the good ice. I laid on the floor of the choir room and hid behind the leftover robes. I doodled on tithe envelopes and dosed on my mother’s shoulder. I’ve felt the wax burn my hand from many a Christmas Eve service and I’ve sung along with the well worn hymnal. I even puked on Christmas Day in the sanctuary. Church was part of my life.
All my life.
As I grew up, this Christian life was my normal. I loved the Lord and through my own life experiences began to know him as my own Savior, not just the Baby Jesus on the felt board.
Warriors, no matter how much Church you know, your battle, your circumstances can turn you round and round like a bad, dizzying game of Pin Your Sins on the Cross.
I was upside-down when Danny was injured. We were thrown in the miry pit and sold into the slavery of brain injury.
The faith that was sown in my heart in the hard back pews as a child was tilled up and my faith field left dry and empty, waiting for the Pioneer and Perfecter of my faith to do something.
When life tore my two into one flesh from me, well-meaning, fellow Christians would “there, there” me on my back and tell me to keep trusting the Lord.
They would tell me that God wouldn’t give me more than I could bear, to be still and know and to praise Him in the storm.
I wanted to scream. I wanted to punch them in the nose.
I was drowning in Christian platitudes to try to explain the inexplicable why in all of it.
Am I supposed to take one for the team? Align myself with Christ’s sufferings for His greater good? For His glory?
Am I to put my family on the altar, raising my dagger of dashed dreams?
Why does God tarry? Do I not have enough faith?
Am I a fraud of a Believer if I admit I’m not sure God is going to fix it?
So like a good Christian, I wore my scarlet letter ‘S’ and painted my scarlet lips to hide my feelings, taking my suffering like a warior, my family’s suffering as the yoke God had given me; His perfect plan for our lives.
I put my head down to the business of life and removed my heart.
I choked out “thy will be done,” and couldn’t bring myself to mouth the words “it is well with my soul.”
Because it wasn’t.
As Christians, we often try to place a band-aid of Scripture reference over a gaping wound of hurt when what the hurting really need is for you to shut up and hug them. What they need are your comforting arms and the permission to not be okay.
Don’t get me wrong. Scripture is powerful, the very Word of God. The Word has wrapped it’s comforting arms around me too many times to count and brought me back to the field of Truth instead of Feelings.
But, Friends, I urge you to stand with those who grieve and grieve along with them.
Look them in the eye and free them from the garment of having it all together.
Don’t pretend you know all the answers, but gently guide them to the God of all Comfort, to the Jesus who weeps for and alongside his friends.
Warriors, if you’re in the thick of life’s battle, be honest with yourselves on where you are emotionally.
You cannot take care of those you love without taking care of yourself first.
It is hard, but not selfish. Rather you, and they, are better for it.
Being authentically you is never wrong.
Love on yourselves. Cut yourselves some slack. Cry in your closet and cry in your car. Allow those who love you to love on you. Reach out for someone’s hand or someone’s ear.
If you’re not okay, come sit by me. We’ll be not okay together and we’ll comfort each other on the way to better.