Friday, June 24, 2016

Redeeming the pain at five years

As many know, next month marks five years since Matt died. Each year we have sought to find some way to redeem this horrific pain and glorify God and His goodness toward us. Each year has encompassed something different, but always with the endeavor to display Matt's personality, interests, and skills to hopefully give those who never got the chance to meet him to somehow know him.

This year we have chosen to create another GoFundMe campaign. We would be deeply honored if you would join us. Please follow to link to read more:

Friday, June 17, 2016

Do you want to be healed?

John 5:1-9
1After these things there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes.
3In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, [waiting for the moving of the waters;
4for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.]
5A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.
6When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?”
7The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”
8Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.”
9Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk.
Do you want to be healed? 

I've been pondering this question for several months now after listening to a sermon on these verses from the book of John. What an odd question, I think, for Jesus to ask this man. 

Of course he wants to be healed! 

Why on earth would Jesus ask this, we wonder. I mean, it even says in verse six that Jesus "knew that he had already been a long time in that condition..." 

A long time. 
Thirty-eight years, to be exact. 
Yeah, that's a long time. 

Just as odd, to me, is the man's response. Does he respond with an emphatic, "Yes! Yes!" No. No, he doesn't. Instead, he perplexingly gives an excuse. (Verse 7) 

But Jesus heals him. He heals him, and I realize why the man responded as he did. You see, friends, once you've been in a condition in which you have tried repeatedly to secure healing, but without any success, you lose hope. You begin to think healing simply isn't possible. You begin to believe you're always going to be this way. You even quit trying to find healing. This man's answer reflects his hopelessness. 

Recovery from child loss is like this man. Child loss, like this man's illness, doesn't go away. Year after year, the loss remains. Recovery sits on the sideline wondering if healing is ever going to happen. You begin to believe that healing is for others, not you. You sit on your mat of child loss and watch while everyone else's prayers get answered. In the meantime, your hope takes a dive in a different pool. 

But then Jesus comes along. 

Jesus comes along and asks the same question: "Do you wish to get well?"  Oh, therein lies the real issue. Do you, bereaved parent, want to heal? See, it seems like such a dumb question, doesn't it? Of course we want to be healed, right!? But the problem is this: It means we have to get up off the mat of child loss. The mat that, perhaps, has become our excuse to stay out of the healing waters. 

Why on earth would we avoid the water, you ask? Well, I can tell you why. For one, being close to our grief means being close to our child. If we leave our grief then, in a sense, we leave our child. As bereaved parents, we're already separated from our child(ren). To chose healing seems almost like a betrayal to our precious son or daughter. But that simply is not true. Choosing life, laughter, and joy is not a barometer of our love for our child. Our love is not measured by how long we grieve. See, grief can subside while our love remains as deep as ever. Living with joy, moving forward with life, and finding our purpose does not diminish our love for them.

Second, like the man who had been ill for 38 years, we begin to say, "I can't do it. I've tried, but I just can't get there." This is a dangerous place to be, in all honesty. This is the place where hope has died and discouragement and resignation rules. We can sit here in our loss, too, unless we do what Jesus said to the man: “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” (verse 8)

Healing begins when we take action.

When we pick up the mat of grief and make the phone call, attend the meeting, or share with a friend or family member, we are taking our first steps to healing. Asking for help, daring to hope, and believing God are the toddler steps that grow our faith and promote healing. These seemingly small steps have a huge impact on the outcome of our life with loss. These steps are the hard work of grief, but if we persist, we will find strength. Our feeble legs will become increasingly stronger and more coordinated the more we use them.

Finally, we avoid the healing water because, again like the sick man, our grief is not some short-lived illness. It is a serious, debilitating condition that lasts for years. When loss is fresh, the bereaved cannot fathom healing. Pain obscures our vision. We long to die so that we can join our child. Healing is a pool that we simply don't know how to get to.

But Jesus shows up.

He asks the question, "Do you trust me?" Do we trust that He will bring us through this agonizing, indescribable loss? Do we trust Him that His word is true? Do we believe that healing is possible? Jesus's question begs an answer. We don't have to understand how He's going to provide healing, we simply have to believe He will.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sibling grief

Last night during the tornado warnings our nine year old came over to me and said, “If Matt were here and still alive, I’d feel safer with him, Mom.”

This is grief. This is the heart of a little boy who misses his big brother. Still. Next month, it will be five years since he’s seen his big brother. My heart breaks for him and the rest of his siblings. I hurt for them because this is something I can’t fix. Though he has five other siblings, he misses the one that’s not here.

Sibling grief is hard. My kids see other siblings together and still wish their big brother were here. It doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate the siblings they still have. In fact, I daresay they appreciate them even more. It simply means they long for the brother they no longer have.

That sibling you don’t get along with? Tell them you love them today. Just do it. Whether the relationship stinks or not, remind them that there’s a nine year old little boy who wishes he had one more day with his brother. There are no do-overs in this life. This is it. Even if the relationship with your brother or sister isn’t what you wish it would be, call, text, or write them and tell them you love them today.