“Doesn’t it make you mad? I mean, where was the church in all this?”
The accusation caught me by surprise, and I got a little defensive. I took a breath before responding:
“The church isn’t perfect. It’s made up a people – imperfect people. Imperfect people who called him, texted him, offered to visit him. Imperfect people who tried to do the same things he would have done before he chose to try life without God or the church. Imperfect people who tried but got ignored or harshly pushed aside. Imperfect people who continue to try to invest in his life even if he has no idea. Imperfect people who have helped me, had tough conversations with me, been patient with me, and have loved me well – and imperfectly.”
I’m not saying the church has never mishandled responsibility. History reveals the church’s apathy and harsh response at times. But other times, it is trying. Even when God-prompted, everything doesn’t get tied up in a tidy bow. Life is messy, and that includes church life. People under the umbrella of church have hurt people. I hate that. I’m sorry. People under the umbrella of church have also loved people. Abundantly. Sometimes that love is well received, and other times, it is rejected. When someone isn’t sensitive to God, it’s convenient to misconstrue what people do in God’s name. It’s easier to blame than take responsibility.
So today, notice someone’s need. Reach out to someone. Extend grace and forgiveness. Be patient. Listen well. Love abundantly.
Every tear, every doubt
Every time you’ve fallen down
When you’re hurting, feeling shame
When you’re numbing all your pain
When you’ve lost your way
And feel so far away
You’re beautifully broken
And You can be whole again
The weekend after I moved out, I wrote a note to my soon-to-be-ex. It had been a month since he demanded a divorce. It was a weekend he spent at his girlfriend’s house. I had written him notes throughout that month to try to say things he wouldn’t accept then but might be willing to hear someday. This note was different. He was moving on. He had moved on.
I wrote the note in one draft. I left only one blank on the page. It followed the dash after our wedding date: it would be the death date of our marriage. It’s something I hadn’t seriously considered. The beginning date was our anniversary, our wedding date. The death date would be the date of our divorce. I wrote with no bitterness but a consuming sadness and loss. I wrote of what I would miss, the moments that would never be a part of the dash between the birth and death of our marriage.
I will send it to him one day – when I can write the final date.
Despite that death and the abrupt, hostile way it came about, I appreciate the dash. I would do it all over again – every moment of it. Marriage and doing life deeply with someone is worth it. The dash is full of joy and heartache but it is a journey of growth. My journey was cut short, in my opinion, but my growth wasn’t. I am still living the dash of my life. I am thankful.
What is important is faith expressing itself in love. (Galatians 5:6b)
It has become an essential verse of my life.
We can justify so many things as expressions of love, but many are distortions. To express faith through love requires bold humility and constant truth checks. It requires inviting God to define what love looks like as it responds and when it responds. It is God-controlled not self-determined.
It is a surrender, a complete willingness to let everything about self die, then trusting God to use death for life. Some death simply needs to die. God prunes what is unnecessary or a hindrance to growth. He brings life out of death, too. A seed must die to yield more growth – and more seeds, which will eventually need to die to yield more growth.
It is a constant process of death yielding to life.
It is a constant process of faith expressing itself in love.
Even what we view as unusable can be worthy.
Even what we view as worthy might need to die.
Only God knows which is which and when.
Only God can guide us well in the expression of faith through love.
How you finish matters.
Perhaps even more than what and how you start.
Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. (Ecclesiastes 7:8)
Authentic grief gives way to authentic joy.
Take time to grieve.
Deal with it as healthily as you can and settle for nothing less.
Expect your pursuit through grief to morph into something better and beautiful and change you in the process.
I waited patiently for the Lord, and He turned to me and heard my cry for help.
He brought me up from a desolate pit, out of the muddy clay, and set my feet on a rock, making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the Lord.
How happy is the man who has put his trust in the Lord and has not turned to the proud or to those who run after lies!
Lord my God, You have done many things—Your wonderful works and Your plans for us; none can compare with You. If I were to report and speak of them, they are more than can be told.
You do not delight in sacrifice and offering; You open my ears to listen. You do not ask for a whole burnt offering or a sin offering.
Then I said, “See, I have come; it is written about me in the volume of the scroll.
I delight to do Your will, my God; Your instruction lives within me.”
I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; see, I do not keep my mouth closed—
as You know, Lord.
I did not hide Your righteousness in my heart; I spoke about Your faithfulness and salvation; I did not conceal Your constant love and truth from the great assembly.
Lord, do not withhold Your compassion from me; Your constant love and truth will always guard me.
For troubles without number have surrounded me; my sins have overtaken me; I am unable to see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my courage leaves me.
Lord, be pleased to deliver me; hurry to help me, Lord. Let those who seek to take my life be disgraced and confounded. Let those who wish me harm be driven back and humiliated.
Let those who say to me, “Aha, aha!” be horrified because of their shame.
Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; let those who love Your salvation continually say, “The Lord is great!”
I am afflicted and needy; the Lord thinks of me. You are my helper and my deliverer; my God, do not delay. (Psalm 40)
God doesn’t always fix what we want. Sometimes there is something else that needs fixed. We might not know what that is. But we can trust God for it.
The Fix is a process. Somethings we feel as if we can delay a process, as if there is always more time later. But there is something important in the now. You don’t have to understand all the pieces. You don’t need to do the fixing. But you need fixing. We all do. Yield to it today, each moment at a time.