Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That

Many parts of the country have been experiencing higher than average rainfall totals. However, when I arrived back home to Louisiana earlier this week, I wasn’t prepared for the deluge that engulfed me. Not actual raindrops. Worse. I found myself twisting about in one of life’s “perfect storms.”

A leaky pipe approached from the East. We saw that one coming, and I had planned to address this issue during this trip home. Scheduling weeks in advance, I had one day – and only one day – carefully devoted to the leaky pipe. What I hadn’t seen were the squirrels approaching from the South. Apparently, a gang of squirrels that had made themselves quite comfy in the laundry room over the winter. There’s more. A dead car battery barreled in from the North. The old Jeep wouldn’t crank. I was on foot and at the mercy of friends until I could get it running.  These three events collided on my radar to form a Perfect Storm.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

My attention and energy were being pulled in opposite directions at once. Before the plumber could do his thing, I had to deal with the twelve pounds of acorn shells and the six pounds of “you-know-what” that the squatter squirrels left in the laundry – also the home of the leaky pipe. The plumber was kind enough to jumpstart the battery on the old Jeep. While he mended the leaky pipe (and discovered a slow drip in the hose bib on the back of the house), I headed to the auto parts store. The clerk delivered the news. The prognosis was good, but I needed to drive around aimlessly for about an hour to “charge” the battery before he could tell me for certain whether the battery was simply drained or if a replacement was in order. Apparently, nobody told this guy about my squirrels and pipes.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

My time was already tight. I had other stuff to handle. Why do these things always happen at the most inconvenient time? When you’ve got squirrel “stuff” to deal with. Or work “stuff.” Or house “stuff.” Or health “stuff.” Or some other stuff “stuff.” 

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Well, I did my time. After an hour and no longer, I made my way back to the auto parts store. Finally some good news. The battery was charged. I was free to return to my regularly-scheduled programming, except for the fact that I was still derailed by the squirrel thing. The next three hours were spent gathering parts from the hardware store, changing the dryer vent and duct work where the vermin had invaded the house, and cleaning acorn shells from the interior of the dryer. That last one is a lot more complicated than you might imagine.

These unexpected challenges were taking a toll on my time and my mood. Earlier in the week, I had been invited to attend a group for bereaved parents taking place this same night. When I had originally accepted the invitation, I had the time and the energy. Now as the hour approached, I was feeling as drained as the battery on our Old Jeep. 

Fighting life’s storms earlier in the day had sapped me. Sitting this one out was sounding a lot better than sitting through it. Despite the trying day, I showed up at the appointed hour. 

The group was made up of about eight parents, which is about eight bereaved parents too many. For some the loss was new. Each story was unique but connected by pain that was still raw. Others had been walking this journey for many years. Again, each story unique but the pain still fresh. Everyone connected through indescribable pain to help one another along an unimaginable journey.

During the course of the evening, one of the parents who had been on this journey for many years, said “it.” They said out loud a thing that I have been afraid to voice. A thing that can strike fear in the heart of someone dealing with a profound loss. “I am a better person now.”

I wish that I had appreciated this parent’s statement for its boldness and bravery in the moment. Sadly, I didn’t. To these bereaved ears, it screeched like a needle skipping across an LP. It sounded bold (even though shared in the humblest and most sincere manner) but not brave. It sounded more like betrayal. If I admit that I’ve been made better – even in the slightest – by this bitter event, what would others think? Would they question my love for Brooke? Assume that I’ve “moved on”? What would I think? 

“I’m better for it” sounds so close to “I’m glad for it.”It sounds too close to “I want more of it.” While nothing could be further from the truth, I am not dealing with truth. I am dealing with fear. 

Fear’s claim to fame is twisting the truth. If fear pushes too hard, it becomes absurd and transparent. It loses its edge. As long as fear waltzes around the edge of truth, it can fill our dance cards.

One of the twisted truths that often plagues the grieving process is that you show how much you love the ones you’ve loss through sustained sadness. The greater the love; the deeper the despair over the loss. The twisted version of that truth fools you into believing that you can maintain (or even expand) the love by maintaining the despair.

Impossible. Love conquers death through faith, hope, mercy, compassion. These are the qualities that God can cultivate within us even in our darkest seasons. Despair is a weed that chokes out love.

Humble submission in the midst of our most gut-wrenching circumstances is the pathway to faith, hope, mercy, and compassion. It is in humble submission that God “works all things for good.” It is in humble submission to God that he transforms our scars from scary to sacred.

Humble submission is what makes us better. It is a bold act of love. It is a bold act of worship.

“I’m a better person for ‘it’” [fill-in your own “it”] is one of the bravest and most loving things that you can say. Perhaps, by allowing God to make us better when the world says we should be bitter not only keeps love alive, it is how the love we have for those we’ve lost continues to grow despite their physical absence.

Overwhelming heartbreak is an accelerated pruning process. When we soften to the process allowing it to work through us, we become more empathetic. We take less for granted. We become more forgiving. We show mercy. We increase our capacity to love. We grow. We become better.

When we resist the process, we harden. We wither. We become bitter.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Contrary to what fear might preach, becoming “better” through grief isn’t about “moving on,” forgetting the love we have, or betraying those who pass before us. Rather, becoming “better” is about moving forward while honoring the memory of those we’ve lost and forging a path for that love to grow until we meet again in eternity.

Now, that is a bold act of love. That is a bold act of worship.

Who doesn’t have time for that?

Dear Father, we live in a world where fear seeks to hold us back when you have called us to be bold and brave no matter what our circumstances may be. Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus Christ, as the ultimate model of how to worship boldly and to love bravely in a broken world. As we make our journey through this world, help us to imitate that model as a memorial of love to those whom we’ve lost, but more importantly as a testimony to the grace, mercy, and love that You have shown us. 

Thank you for slowing us down in the midst of our storms. Thank you for sending your Spirit to recharge our battered hearts. Thank you for making beauty from our ashes. Thank you for transforming our scars from scary to sacred. Thank you for working us for better when the world suggests that we should become bitter.

Thank you for conquering death so that love never dies. Amen.

SDG

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