I remember everything about that day.
My babies stood in a line dressed in funeral clothes. They fidgeted in front of the coffin. They behaved like children at a funeral, out of place. The boys tugged at their ties. At one point I noticed that my son, Luke had clipped his clip-on to his crotch area causing his brother to snort-laugh. I snapped my fingers and shot him a glare, knowing full well their uncle Josh, the guest of honor at this funeral, would have more than approved.
Come to think of it, my brother-in-law probably told Luke to always wear clip-ons for this very reason.
I tried to listen to the final wise words of the priest, but I didn’t believe him.
As I scanned my children in their funeral garb, I cried again for the thousandth time in 72 hours. My youngest, Sophie’s pink tights had slipped down, her crotch was now at her knees. Her once shiny black shoes were dusty with cemetery dirt. I wanted to bolt.
I wanted to yelp, “Excuse me! Josh wouldn’t have stayed this long at any event! Please! Let’s be done now!” But the wisdoms continued to drone on.
Finally, the balarky ended and I straightened myself and the children so people could shuffle past us with their condolences.
And biblical truths…
She grabbed me; I was stunned by her strength. She was a quarter of my size and about 100 years old. She smelled of moth balls, Bengay, and coleslaw. Her ancient voice was accompanied by the click of misfit dentures. She semi-whispered her coffee breath acumen into my ear: “The Lord chose them for this. Galatian 1:15 He set you apart before you were born –you and your children were set apart and called out for this moment.”
My heart pounded.
My eyes burned.
Bile rose in my throat.
I jerked away from the tiny woman and reached my hand to the next well-wisher in line, lest I snap the old lady’s neck.
Again, something Josh would have found fitting.
An hour later I found solace on the porch of the ranch house. I sat on the porch swing. Sophie’s tights were finally off of her and I twisted the pink nylon and stared jadedly at a mesquite forest. The elderly woman’s words battled my heart and mind for consideration.
Calmer now, my Spanx and jewelry in the glove box of my van and a glass of wine in my hand, I rehashed the commiseration. My children were chosen for this loss? Josh was destined to die? Cut to ribbons on a highway, alone.
I felt… mad.
On that porch I surrendered to that. I hated that scripture. What a stupid thing to say to someone who was barely able to function from the weight of this catastrophe. And I was overcome with the grief of the tragedy again and enormous guilt for the sacrilege of utterly despising the Word of my God. I gulped wine. I considered my punishment in the fiery pits where I’d be forced to wear Spanx for an eternity and I was certain there was no White Zinfandel or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Furthermore, if I was going to hell for my hatred of scripture, I regretted not pummeling that decrepit old lady, deliverer of the “good news.”
Last night in worship at a writer’s conference, the memory of Josh’s funeral flooded me. I watched another wounded warrior sing praises with hands held high. I had only met her the hour before at dinner. The fellow blogger of truth was hilarious, spunky, and brutally honest.
As we chatted about our writing journeys, she explained hers was prompted by the death of her 18-year-old son. We ate cheesecake and somehow ventured down the path of stuff we wished people would stop saying.
She casually stated, “I hate the scripture, ‘God makes all things work together for good.’ I get so tired of that.”
I nodded in agreement. Yeah, I would too.
As I inappropriately scrutinized her praise an hour later at opening worship, I remembered the old lady at Josh’s funeral. I recounted how much that scripture cut me. Certainly, I have come to a place of peace and surrender with Josh’s death. But as the chorus changed, and the words came across the screen, “You make all things work together for good,” my new friend dropped her hands and opened her eyes and looked at me, and laughed. I smiled empathetically. She isn’t sacrilegious. She is perfect. Her grief is the most real; her worship the most genuine.
And that genuine spirit is what prompted my early rise. Alone in this hotel room, I wanted to confess how much I hate Galatians 1:5. I don’t want to venture down the road of horrors where the God I adore destined my babies to bury their beloved uncle or picked mommas to bury their babies. I don’t want to hear He will make it for His good. I don’t want my new friend to listen to another “good word” that will make someone else feel wise and enlightened about the untimely death of her boy. And more that I don’t want to hear it, I don’t ever want to be the fool who spouts a scripture that I might sound wise.
There is a place, alone with my God I surrender and confess. The place where He alone transcribes an ancient scripture just for me. A place where The Word is perfected by the Lamb, and wholly true for each of His beloved, at just the right moment. Guilt and shame are washed clean by His sacrifice. And true communion with this Friend, who laid down His life for mine, is accompanied by a candid expression of hatred for the Holiest of Words and the hope He will heal and reveal how those truths are made good.
Alone in this hotel room, where I should have embraced sleep, I came to the resolution that the most real relationship I can have with the Creator of all, is one where I can say, “I hate that scripture. Show me how it is true. Teach me things I have not known. Increase my borders. Forgive my trespasses. And help me not to ever speak your truths and break someone’s heart or lead them further from You.”
May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained. Love, Jami
How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news. Isiah 52:7
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