To the Christian, walking through suffering

to the christian walking through suffering Dear You, yes, you who is walking through suffering, wading through the trenches of grief and irrevocable loss, as well as trying to honor God and "be the Christian you're called to be."

You don't have to have it all together. You don't have to live a picture perfect life, forcing smiles and lifted hands when you'd rather fall to your face and crumble into the carpet fibers. Your grief is valid. Your suffering undeniable. You have permission to be human.

You have been told to lift your hands and praise God through the storm, because that's what Christians do. You have been told to smile and believe that it doesn't hurt, because Christians don't have to hurt, they have God. You have been told that this happened for a reason, Gods timing is perfect, and that if you don't have peace or joy amidst your hell-on-earth, you obviously don't have faith in the same God as I do.  You have been told that this life doesn't matter, only the next. To shrug it off and get over it, move on already. And I know, trust me, because I have said some of these things, the words are mostly from pure hearts wanting to help; when you're able, see through the clouded fog of hurt and grasp their pure loving heart.

Yes, I believe in peace that surpasses understanding. Yes I have experienced glimpses of joy amidst the most treacherous of days. Yes I believe that God will use things for a greater good. But I also believe that it is okay to be honest with where you're at. Even if its "ugly." Especially if its ugly. I also believe that there are dark nights of our souls, and that joy comes in the morning, whenever the morning comes. I believe that life consists of times of complete light hearted joy, of morning light, but that those times are followed by the dark night. That night is inevitable, we cannot deny or escape it, and that morning will come, but until it does, you are stuck in the night.

Sometimes trusting Him when everything is coming undone looks like staining your tears into the carpet, head bowed, palms up in surrender, letting Him know your honest heart. Just because you're walking in grief and experiencing despair doesn't mean you're not trusting Him. Grief doesn't mean you're not being a "good Christian." We must move away from the idea that there is a measuring stick. Jesus wept and mourned and let His tears fall to the ground; He weeps and breaks with you, my friend.

Dear You, who is breaking to pieces, only when you're alone out of fear for disappointing humans.. Dear You, who carries the weight of guilt and shame for feeling sorrow, on top of the weight of grief.. Dear You, who feels lonely, isolated, separated from the rest of humanity as you walk through suffering alone, for fear of what new advice you'll hear next...

Please breathe. Please be kind to yourself. Please be gentle. Please be honest.

Suffering comes in many forms. It is not comparable or quantifiable.

Whether you are walking through suffering isolated or with people by your side or a mixture of both, (because though people are there, this is a journey with you and Jesus), I need you to know that God is glorified regardless of the way "you are." Regardless of if you lift your hands and say the right words and plaster on a smile that isn't genuine .. OR if you're damaged, breaking daily all day, wondering if you can make it through the next hour, feeling like a complete train wreck, a messy pile of broken flesh with a bleeding heart, He will still be glorified. 

Those words were the words that saved me in my darkest days of this year. When I was tempted to throw away my desire to be authentic and real, when I thought that plastering on fakeness was the way to save who I was, to save my friendships and relationships, to save my Christian-Faith...those words were what stopped me up, halted me, exclaimed that Jesus needs my honesty and integrity, He does not need a certain way of being.

May integrity and honesty protect me,     for I put my hope in you. Psalm 25:21

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,     and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy,     and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

The way of honesty is the way of humility, the way of humility is the way of Christ.

Lets get back to the key words that I am here to remind you: Jesus will be glorified even if you are a train wreck. Jesus doesnt ask you to muster up and will yourself to be what you're not. He doesn't ask you to fake it 'til you make it.

You see that's the thing about God. He has His way. He will bring people closer to His cross, His heart, regardless of how you walk [or limp] through suffering. This is a beautiful thing, my friend: He will do the work of bringing glory to His name. Jesus does not place a heavy burden on you to pretend or makeshift an attitude that is not feasible, or honest. Your job is to cling to the cross, to cling to Christ, and be honest before His feet. Even if that honesty says, "Im upset, I'm hurt, I don't get it, I am not liking this, I don't know what to pray." Even if the words sound 'unChristian.'

He will bring glory to His name without you mustering what you do not have. 

I'm beginning to believe that as long as you're honest, He will use you powerfully. That especially in your suffering and ugliness and damaged brokenness, He will prevail and shine His glory and love and grace.

He is most evident in your weakness."My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness."  God is revealed through the broken cracks of who you are.

I see Jesus when I look at Christine and Keith; completely surrendered in humility, bending beneath the weight of the story that is being written for them. Their story is not a desired one; their story is that of broken bodies and broken hearts, diseases that will not leave until Heaven is reached, dreams and plans buried. Christine does not jump for joy at the story being written for her, at the cup she is being served. They are not asking for more suffering; yet they still brings these burdens to His feet, day after day. Christine faithfully and boldly asks Jesus for healing, continually bends to His will and His way, and aches to trust Him. She told me it isn't easy. It isn't glory.  She doesn't pretend or make light of their suffering; not even on Sunday morning. She is honest and clear about the pain and the agony of disease and the thief that it is.

In the broken cracks of who she is and the damaged part of her heart, Jesus reveals Himself more clearly than she may ever know.

Dear You. Keep on keeping on...even if keeping on is simply breathing in and breathing out, opening your eyes.. or not. Keeping on may mean you're simply choosing to breathe.

Dear You: please be kind to yourself, be gentle. The grace that engulfs is thick and unending.

It's okay to be human.

 

Death shouts finality

death-losing someone you love What seem to be steel walls are closing in around your body, slowly but all too quickly. The air is thick; breathing is painfully panicky, your lungs gasp for oxygen but it is as though their elasticity has vanished. Your lungs are trapped, there is no room for expansion. An iron fist is actually clenching your very heart. Hope exists only in escape, escaping your very own skin. And that escape doesn't seem right.

Soon it hits your soul like a sledge hammer: the walls closing in are not steel at all, but are walls of reality. Life has crumbled on top of you leaving despair, confusion, brokenness in replace of confidence.

Death.

Loss.

The nightmare is reality and the one you loved dearly has vanished from the earth. You knew it was coming, or maybe you didn't, and yet death's shock is more than you ever expected. Your heart hurts in a literal and physical sense. It is unexplainable. The memories unfold like a video tape replaying itself over and over again in your mind. One moment you're fine and the next you're shedding tears of grief. Whether a [grand]parent, a sibling, a friend, a miscarriage...death shouts finality and it ushers in angry agony.

john 1133-35 jesus wept

Lazarus died. Death gave its sting, his family was mourning, and the walls of panic were closing in. And Jesus wept. He didn't try to sugar coat his death, even though He was about to raise Lazarus back to life. Jesus didn't throw cliche pick-me-up phrases at this family in an attempt to make Himself feel better. Jesus didn't see it necessary to try and fix their pain with words of comfort; He knew that their pain ran so deeply within their veins that sympathy words would do no good. No, Jesus wept. Jesus mourned. Jesus felt the agony with them, He co-suffered, He had compassion. And co-suffering [weeping with those who are mourning] takes pressure off when you realize you do not need to share sympathetic words that may only hurt more. Instead of filling the thick air with well-intended-words that actually deepen the hurt, let your heart go to the place of pain with them and weep. Mourn. Feel. Pray. Ask Jesus to fill the air and to be close and to give comfort; He will.

And if you're the beautiful soul with walls closing in [breathing becoming difficult] and the desire to curl up in a ball and never leave your bed? That is okay. You are okay. You have permission to mourn and to weep and to feel. Let those feely feels free; scream into a pillow. It may take months, years, to completely process this loss. And that is okay. Shower tears are the best tears because they blend right in with the water. The bathroom door is locked and tears are washed away as they fall from your eyes. Invite someone into your heart whom you trust; someone you know will mourn with you, feel with you, co-suffer with you...pray with you. Invite them in and give them the honor of feeling with you; I assure you, it is their honor.

Jesus wept.

That is the ultimate permission for us to weep.