I’m a private griever.
I know, pretty shocking considering there are very few things I keep private on here… am I right? But nonetheless, it's true. I like to grieve alone, untouched, in silence (usually with a glass of wine and a bubble bath... can I get an amen?).
I remember the first time I was able to verbally articulate wanting to be left alone during grief.
At our church in Kentucky, an elderly lady named Inez had taken me under her wings. I would go over to her house and eat Breyer’s vanilla ice cream while she showed me pictures of her beloved family and friends. She would tell me stories and listen to my dreams, and in return I thought she hung the moon.
Now Inez wasn't your typical calm sweet grandma. Y'all, that old lady was a pistol. I have memories of my dad preaching and Inez agreeing and disagreeing OUTLOUD in the middle of the sermon. There’s nothing like having your sermon interrupted (or corrected) by a woman in her 80’s. It also wouldn't be uncommon for her to stand up for me and my brother whenever my dad would call us out in church for talking or goofing off, “Now Pastor, you leave those kids alone. They’re good kids, you hear me? They’re just being kids.” And that would be the end of that.
Some kids had superheroes, I had Inez.
Not to mention, she had a bottle of cough syrup that she would straight chug in the middle of church whenever a coughing fit hit. Well, at least we think it was cough syrup.
So like I said… HERO status. FOR SURE.
When Inez passed away and dad announced it to the church, I wept. Honestly, I get teary-eyed even writing about it; I just loved that woman. I can remember my childhood best friend coming up to give me a hug and me stiff-arming her, “Do NOT hug me!!! I don’t like to be touched when I’m upset.”
And that phrase followed me throughout my life as I eliminated community out of my grieving spaces.
It’s odd because I am a touchy feely person. I love hugs. I love squeezing a friend’s arm or kissing a family member hello or goodbye. But when grief hits, I can’t handle being touched; it’s like sensory overload and all my people know that when tears start to flow, physical touch is not an option and I usually retreat.
This summer feels like a lot like that.
I keep waking up hoping for peace only to be devastated by a news cycle… and honestly, I just want to retreat.
The grief is just too heavy.
The discord surrounding racial tensions, police brutality, police being hunted and killed, ISIS, terrorism, and not to mention the political dialogue surrounding our elections has JUST BEEN A LOT.
There is a part of me that just longs for solitude and wants to yell, “LEAVE ME ALONE, I DON’T WANT TO BE TOUCHED.” That part of me wants to get off of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and yes, even this blog. There is a part of me that wants to just shut it all down and keep my head low and live my small life while ignoring what's going on outside my home.
But I’ve learned that my instinct to retreat when wounded rarely turns out well because our stories, even the broken ones (ok... especially the broken ones), were made to be told. And our burdens, well... they were made to be carried together, never alone.
I love the passage in Exodus 18 when Moses's father in law, Jethro, gives him some advice. You see, Moses was taking on the task of being judge for ALL people, constantly working and solving their problems. Jethro observes all of this and then says, "What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone" (v. 17-18).
(I feel that way about our society right now. This is too heavy, too dark, too wearisome.)
So what did Jethro tell Moses to do?
Look for men who fear God and are trustworthy. People who don't take bribes. Find these people, team up to get the work done, and "you will be able to endure, and... people also will go to their place in peace" (v. 21, 23).
Endurance and Peace.
I think this is a timely call for our communities. We have to come together for the sake of peace. Jen Hatmaker was calling all Peacemakers to the table, and I'm no Jen... but I'm following suit.
I don't have all the answers and I don't know what's next. But I believe that we can agree that we ALL are reeling from a devastating summer. And there is something beautiful (and God-honoring) about standing together with locked arms in the midst of our grief, even if we aren’t all standing in the same corner.
So my post today is a prayer for all of the peacemakers. The liberal peacemakers and the conservatives. The black peacemakers and the white ones. The Latino peacemakers and the Muslim peacemakers. The rich peacemakers and the poor. To the #blacklivesmatter and the #thebluelivesmatter and the #alllivesmatter. My prayer is this...
May we never retreat.
May we come together, united by our humanity rather than divided by our preferences or opinions.
May we be kinder with our words, tones, and posts.
May we have grace for those who don’t.
May we lock arms, and together pursue both justice and mercy.
May we be beautifully honest about our stories and be graciously receptive to others'.
May we feel the freedom to not have all the answers, while still wanting to be a part of a solution.
May we listen before we speak, and when we do speak may the betterment of others drive our words.
May we know that we are all broken people in need of restoration.
And May we all have eyes full of grace, compassion, and kindness toward our fellow man as we walk these messy steps of healing... locked arms together, never alone.
Much love to you and yours. Praying for those of you who are weary today and want to retreat. Praying that we can come together and carry this burden of bringing PEACE to a broken society in JESUS' name together.
Hugs (even for those y'all not wanting to be touched right now),