Some say there’s no God, no hope, no love, nothing we can do to bring change.
But, I’ve seen the images.
When I look into my brother and sisters eyes, the eyes of my children and foster daughter,
The eyes of my neighbor, no matter the color, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, or social status…
I see images.
The images of God.
And images have power.
Power to pray. Power to protest. Power to preach. Power to love. Power to plead.
I admit it’s a hard time to navigate. Liking a Facebook post won’t bring change. I am inadequate to speak any authority over the situation because I have SO very much to learn. But as I cried for my foster daughter’s future, her precious mama and father, I prayed God would show me what to do. Here’s what he pressed on my heart-
We have a God-given, Spirit-led power to raise an anti-racist generation.
Have the hard talk and holy talk in your home tonight, with your friends, your husband, your children.
Not just once. But over and over.
We are living, breathing images. Let’s bring change.
“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:27 NIV
“In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ.” Galatians 3:28-29 MSG
The Southern California rain surprised all humanity this year, giving my kiddos a false sense of hope, “Mommy, do you think they’ll close the schools because it’s raining?!”
Um, no. That’s not a thing.
The brown hills by our house have exploded into yellow flowers. They press on their tippy-toes waving hello. Maybe California should cancel school, offering a day to admire the new life with neighbors. Because when it comes to new life, we really go out of our way to celebrate it don’t we? If we desire the company of new life, we’ll find she always brings a guest.
Life and death sit side by side. So often we shoo the experience of grieving to the “obligatory guest” table. No one wants him at the party…but sooner or later, he shows up. I photographed weddings for years, and I promise you, there’s always a wacky relative in attendance (psssst… it’s your uncle). One wedding reception, the exuberant uncle was on the dance floor, flat on his back, pretending to look up the bride’s dress. Yeah. Sometimes grief acts like that guy. Meaning- he has no sense of social awareness. We find ourselves asking, who invited him anyways?!
But it’s not his fault. When we shove the process of grieving far into the burrow of our lives; he’s forced to rear his head at the most inconvenient times. Can you relate? The checker at Vons asks if you have bags and you burst into tears because you left them in the car. If grief wants your attention, he’s ruthlessly successful. I’m finding that depriving him the attention he craves, only makes him fervently jump up and down.
let your grief take a seat
I’ve decided it’s best to offer him a space to be heard.
Learning to set a place for grief at our table is a grueling and powerful act of faith. But it needs to be done. Joy is painfully birthed out of sorrow. When we pull the chair out from under him and ask him to leave, we’re telling him he’s not important to our story; that he has nothing of value to add to the conversation. When in reality, God often uses our grief to scoot our chair closer to joy. God wants to speak to each of us through our sufferings.
Many believers experience guilt over admitting they’re sad. The idea of feeling guilty for grieving is not biblical! We’re taught we should rejoice in our sufferings, to always be happy because we have Jesus. There’s truth here. However, the rejoicing does not negate the suffering- it accompanies it.
allow your grief to usher in joy
God has filled me with inexplicable joy over our new journey to be foster parents. But honestly, it’s the grief of failed adoptions that brought us here. It’s impossible for me to separate my new joy from my concurrent grief. They’re powerfully intertwined. Have we forgotten that Jesus wept three times in scripture? Each time, coupled with an occurrence of great joy: before the resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:35); right after the triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Luke 19:41); and in the garden before his own death and resurrection leading to the salvation of mankind (Hebrews 5:7).
It is possible to sit next to joy and grief at the same time. It’s healthy to look grief the face and “talk it out” or “cry it out” or slap him in the face. Whatever you need to do to acknowledge they’re times he’s going to come to dinner and you can’t ignore him. We’ve got to deal. But we’re not alone. God’s table is big. It may mean we pull up more chairs for counselors or sisters in Christ to help us mediate the conversation. Or, maybe we need to excuse ourselves for a “prayer break,” or take a moment to wash our wounds in The Word.
As we become more intentional in setting a place for grief, we can’t lose sight that where God allows sorrow, he assigns great joy. “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5b)
p.s. If the voice of your grief is consistently louder than the voice of your loving Father, you may be experiencing depression. They are not the same thing. Please feel free to message me and I would be honored to help you find a counselor.