Posts Tagged ‘Easter’

Good (Grief) Friday

April 14, 2017

Good Friday. It’s here, and it makes us uncomfortable.

Why do I say that? Because everywhere I turn I read, & have even sent texts today that proclaim, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin’!”

In the words of Jesus in the meal He had with His disciples in the Upper Room, I don’t see a “rush to get to Sunday’. Instead, I see an explanation of what was to come & the commanded words “do this in remembrance of me”. upper room

I sit with those words. I let the reality of death set in. I hear the whips of the strips of reeds bruise His flesh, and strips of leather with embedded shards of glass break open His flesh. I cry tears of grief and sadness, and I dare to stay in the place of grief, and remembrance for a while.

With the recent unexpected and sudden loss of my father, this particular Easter season carries more pain. It was our favorite holiday to celebrate together. I feel the urge and desire to want to rush through to Sunday. I want the Resurrection, and I want it NOW! But there’s silence that shrouds the air on Saturday just as the grave clothes remained on the body of our Jesus.

I just watched The Passion of the Christ. I’ve only seen it once before, and it was in the theater on opening week-end thirteen years ago! I swore I would never see it again. I told myself I didn’t need to see that again. I didn’t need to hear those sounds again. And I didn’t need to go “there” again…to that place of death.

communion

But don’t I? Don’t you? Don’t WE?

Our rush to get to Sunday echoes our current state as a society of how we tend to hurry through grief. We don’t “feel all the feels” because it’s just too painful. We hurry the process when even in death Himself, Jesus didn’t. We talk about the events of Friday afternoon (Crucifixion), and Sunday (Resurrection), but we leave Friday night, and all day Saturday in the realm of declared unimportance. But the truth is “unimportance” translates to numbness, denial, anger…and all the feelings about grief we don’t want to experience. We tell ourselves we don’t have time to deal with those feelings in the moment, and that we’ll come back later to feel them….but we never do.

And besides, why deal with grief and the pain of the silence of “Saturday” when it’s all about heaven (Sunday), right?

Well, I would say wrong. It’s all about God. He is the “maker of heaven and earth.”

And He, too, is the Designer of the process. And that process involves grief, silence, and sitting in those dark places that leave us wondering: What’s going to happen next? What do we do with ourselves now? Where is our hope? Do we really have any faith left? Why is God so silent…does He not care?

grief

In the midst of our pain & suffering, God meets us there. Both of my parents died on a Friday night, and a month ago when I lost my dad I asked God to reframe Fridays for me. He showed me that they both entered His eternal Shabbat (Sabbath) rest on a holy day. Even now as I type these words, I realize that’s what Jesus did, too. He paved the way for us to enjoy that rest forever. What a gift!

So, yes, I recognize the goodness of Friday every week, as well as this one called Good Friday which precedes Resurrection Day (Easter). It truly is the hope of heaven that sustains every believer in Jesus as we make it from Friday to Sunday. I just hope the grief of Saturday….the time in between…isn’t lost in celebration, but that it’s remembered with integrity.

It’s Good Friday, and Sunday’s comin’…..but so is Saturday.

hope

 

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Two years…

April 6, 2015

Nearly two years ago, my world was rocked. Shaken. Turned upside down.

I got a call on April 12, 2013 that forever changed my life. My brother called to tell me my mom had died in a house fire. I had to get him to repeat it two or three times because I couldn’t comprehend what was being said.

Mom died???

Traumatic is the only word that fits here.

The whiplash effect of that reality led to delayed grieving. At first, I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t “move past it” more quickly. Three months after my mom moved to heaven, I couldn’t understand why it still hurt so badly, why I still couldn’t sleep at night, and why I’d still burst into tears at random moments.

I had never lost anyone that close to me.

Two years later, I’ve learned more than I’ve cared to about grief. However, one of the greatest redeeming aspects has been how the Lord has used me to love on and encourage others who are grieving.

There’s comfort in knowing someone else has “been there”….and in many cases I’ve been the one to listen because, well….I’ve “been there”.

This past week-end, I went to my home town of Tyler, Texas. I hadn’t been back since my mom passed away. I had this urge deep down in my soul to go.

I had a vision in my mind of reading Psalm 23 in the grass where her body was last placed by fire fighters. Since she was cremated, I don’t have a grave site to visit, and for some reason this just made sense to me. On Wednesday before Easter, the Lord also gave me the idea to take communion in there, too.

I was on a mission…and I was going to complete it.

So, I headed out to Tyler on Saturday morning, and met my brother at mom’s town home. I didn’t know what to expect, but upon seeing it I was flooded with peace. It actually made things better to see life all around…to see azaleas in bloom, grass growing in the yard, and trees well past budding their leaves.

momstownhomeYes, the blue sky and all the green “life” around it brought a source of joy and strength. There were some structural changes with the remodel of the town home. It was the only one on the street that didn’t have a covered porch. You could tell on the exterior brick wall that one used to be there. A faint line told a story, but most people wouldn’t notice.

sittingingrassIt was good to see that all the glass blown out by the windows had been either cleaned up or buried in the soil. There were no more clumps of ashes…only newly planted monkey grass and blooming flowers declaring LIFE over the lot. Yes, this was a much more pleasant scene than the last time I was there.

I quickly found “the spot” in the grass that I had been drawn to in my mind. I had this desire, this need really, to sit where my mom’s body had been placed. I guess at one point in my life, we had been joined together with blood and tissue, so the fact I was craving that kind of “nearness” shouldn’t be too surprising.

I felt like I went from being 37 years old to 37 WEEKS in utero in that moment. I just wanted my mom.

After settling down, I was able to read Psalm 23 with my brother, and then we got ready to take communion. I had brought a loaf of bread, a small bottle of grape juice, and in true East Texas fashion, red solo cup shot glasses from which to drink the juice! It’s all I could find at the store, and didn’t want to buy a huge sleeve of little paper Dixie cups!

Just as we were getting ready to take communion, the front door opened. A man and his dog came outside, and the look on the man’s face and tone in his voice confirmed what I knew in my heart: We should have asked for permission first.

I had decided as we were walking up to the town home, that it would be awkward to ask permission beforehand. I told my brother that “we could just do our thing and leave.”  Well, apparently we took a little too long, and “awkward” may have been our better option. Oops.

The man showed us NO MERCY even after my brother explained why we were there. He asked how long we’d be there, then proceeded to walk his dog down the street. About three minutes later, he walked out the front door again and asked why we were still there. I explained we were just about to take communion so we could leave, but he started yelling about how he had told us to get our stuff together and get off his lawn (*let’s just say I left out a few colorful words here*). My brother and I said in unison, “You never said that.” He told us he thought we “should have gotten his nice hint…” Oops again.

His wife came outside and asked if we were drinking on their yard. I had my Welches grape juice bottle and held it up as I explained we were just drinking JUICE and taking communion. Although, I’m sure the little red solo cup shot glasses were a little suspicious. Should’ve gone with the Dixie cups. My bad…yet again!

communion

The guy started yelling again and my brother stood up at that point and yelled, “Do you not have ANY compassion for another human being?!?!” I stood there with my mouth open for a couple of minutes, and then offered my apologies for not getting permission first. I explained, through tears, that it was going to be awkward either way and they agreed.

And then there was a total shift. I think heaven came down and intervened because they both started apologizing to us profusely. Turns out they had just woken up and there had been a shooting behind their house last week. So, I’m sure it was alarming for them to walk out and find strangers having a Kumbaya moment on the front yard (although, my brother and I had to be a little less alarming than some gun wielding crazy person. I’m just thinkin’)! They offered us water, and told us we could come back every year and sit on the yard and remember our mom! Ha! It actually added some comic relief.

The couple told us to take our time, and they wouldn’t bother us again. So, we finished having our “moment”.

feetingrass

Before heading off to lunch, I stood there in the grass one last time, and took a picture of my feet in the place that last held my mom’s body on earth. And just like I can rejoice because “He is RISEN,” I can rejoice in knowing that my mom is in a place of eternal joy with the very One who defeated sin and death. This picture reminds me that sin has lost it’s power, and death has lost it’s sting!

It makes me smile, and long for my home in Heaven.

Hallelujah! What hope we have in Jesus!