Purpose in the Pain

In high school, I was first introduced to the work of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and the five “stages” of grief in the book On Death and Dying. She introduced the stages – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – in the context of individuals who were facing their own impending death. Later, she and David Kessler published a work, On Grief and Grieving. Both books have been incredibly helpful in understanding this thing called “grief” and for figuring out what’s “normal.”

However, there was still something missing.

Read more

Speak Life

A sad thing happened on the way to the typewriter to write this blog. A news article caught my eye. The son of Christian rapper, TobyMac, died unexpectedly sometime during Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning. It’s human nature that we are drawn to those who’ve had or are going through experiences similar to our own. Though I don’t know TobyMac personally, my heart goes out to him and his wife, and their family.

Like so many others, I look forward to TobyMac’s daily #speaklife memes. On March 16, 2017, he posted this graphic:

Read more

Shattered

Have you ever had a rock or a baseball come flying through a window? The thwack of the initial impact is overwhelmed by the chaotic chime of glass hitting floor. The only thing left in the wake is a halo of jagged shards jutting out at odd angles from the frame. Splinters of glass everywhere. It’s a mess. 

When it comes to cleaning up the mess, we tend toward one of two approaches. Some bust out the rest of the glass and sweep it all up in one fell swoop. Others slap a piece of old cardboard and masking tape over the mess until the repairman can get there to replace the pane. We tend take similar approaches to our own brokenness.

Read more

Today, We Remember

Some days are forever engraved in our memories. Some events just stick. We can recount them in such detail it feels as if the flashes of memory are unfolding in real time – again and again and again.

There are some days in collective history that work the same way. For earlier generations, it might be the day the stock market crashed in 1929 or the day that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941 or the afternoon President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. 

For this generation, it is September 11, 2001. The date, “9/11,” stands on its own without further need for explanation of what happened that day. We each have a story (or stories) about the moment we first learned of the tragic events unfolding in New York City, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania. 

Eighteen years later – and we haven’t forgotten. We still remember. We should remember.

Read more

Everyone Take Your Seats

Here we are at the beginning of a new school year. How do I know? Well, my social media feeds are filled with “first day of school” pics. Some are of little ones headed off to school for the first time. Others are of “when-did-they-get-so-big” ones headed off to their freshman year of college. 

Either way (and for all of those in between) – they are facing situations fraught with anxiety and anticipation. Concerning questions and joyful expectations collide in a cloud of confusion –

What is it going to be like away from mom? home? family? friends?

What is the new place going to be like?

Will there be room for me?

Will I be welcomed?

When will I see mom – home, family, friends – again?

Read more

Store in a Cool, Dark Place

Have you ever trusted someone and been betrayed? Then you get past the hurt and place your trust with them again and they betray you all over again? Pretty soon, if that happens too many times, we draw certain conclusions about that person’s character. At some point, we lose our trust in them all together. We stop placing our faith in them.

Sometimes, we do something similar in our relationship with God. We pray to God for something. He doesn’t answer our prayers the way we’d like. 

We pull back a little trust.

We question His character.

We lose a little faith.

Prayers continue. We don’t like the answers. Pretty soon, we start feeling like all is lost.

Read more

That Kind of Tired

You don’t need a medical degree to figure out that the stress from life’s events wreaks havoc on the physical body. Emotional stress tears our bodies apart from the inside out. Our mouths get dry. We can’t breathe. Our hearts, heads, and stomachs ache. We’re tired but we can’t sleep. Even if we did, we’re not that kind of tired.

You also don’t need a degree in theology to figure out that extreme stress can wreak havoc on the spiritual body. Sadness, grief, and sorrow are heavy. Sometimes, our souls simply cannot bear the weight. We are not that kind of strong.

That heaviness seeps down deep into our bodies. Deep – down into the very marrow of our bones. Deeper – down into the core of our cells. Even deeper – down into our very DNA. 

Sometimes this heaviness is not apparent to the outside world. Other times, it can’t be hidden. Whether others can see it or not – it drags us down. It makes us tired – but not the kind of tired than can be fixed with a nap or a jog around the block. It’s not that kind of tired. 

Read more