“Right. So let me get this straight. There are actual people called Bubba. And that’s their name.”
“And I can meet one?”
“Shouldn’t be a problem. They’re everywhere. Even my grandmother’s name was Bubba.”
The conversation was loud as it rolled around in my head the Saturday of Easter weekend, bumping up against conversations about rodeos. Corn dogs. Alabama’s beaches.
And thoughts about a plane from London Heathrow that landed in Birmingham that night without Clare on it.
Those were extra loud.
Two months after Clare’s death, the clouds are lifting a little. But the hurt is still newer than the bottle of shampoo I’ve got in my shower, still stiffer than the pair of hiking boots I bought the week she died. I’m still breaking this in, still figuring out how to walk in it.
Many moments seem normal. Heartbreaking details sound commonplace as they tumble out of my mouth like I’m relating the news.
“You heard about my friend? Yes, it’s really sad. No, we still don’t know what caused it.”
Other times it sears my heart and singes my tear ducts even when I say nothing.
“Sure, I’m free this weekend.”
But my insides scream that everything’s wrong, that Clare was supposed to be here, that we were supposed to be in Mississippi riding four wheelers right now.
When you love people and they’re ripped away, it hurts.
No way around it.
But as much as I don’t want to make it last one minute longer than it has to, I also don’t want to shove gauze of all kinds in the gaping wound just to make it all seem better.
Pain is God’s megaphone, and He uses it to speak into our lives, as C.S. Lewis said.
So if I can’t avoid it … why waste it?
I want it to hurt when it hurts. To feel numb when it feels numb. To feel happy when I feel happy. And I want all of those honest emotions to drive me back into God as deep as I can go, so He can heal the gaping wound Himself and show me how to walk through the fragments of my broken heart strewn all over the place.
The emotions change. He doesn’t. I want to dig as deep into that as I can. I want to learn about Him in the ways you can only when He’s carrying you, crushed and broken.
If the pain is there, why not press into it and find Him in it, and come out whole on the other side? After all, that’s what He did when He went to the cross on our behalf on Good Friday. He took the horrifically painful cup that was handed to Him by the Father and drank it to the dregs, knowing that life was waiting for Him at the bottom.
Even if that meant that Friday was excruciating, and Saturday the world was still shrouded in death.
Sunday was on the other side, and when He arrived, all was made whole. And it was worth it.
Right now, we’re living in Saturday … the day that birthdays aren’t celebrated, planes arrive with empty seats and tombs are still full. Bombs explode at the Boston Marathon and kill a guy’s 8-year-old son just after he completes a life dream. About 27 million people woke up in slavery this morning and will go to bed tonight after another day of horrors, only to wake up and do it again.
In all this pain, all this injustice, God is calling out to us. To me. To you.
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
So we come. And He makes good on His promises. We find He’s solid. Today, He catches my tears. One day soon, He’ll wipe them away.
As much as I long for that day when everything is set right, it’s not here yet. It’s still on the far side of death, where Clare is now, and the only way to get there is by following the beckoning of a Savior who faced death for us and loves us more than we can understand.
Following Him one more day. And then another.
We make the choice the moment our eyes pop open in the morning. We trust He’ll get us through the day before our feet ever hit the floor.
As Rick Warren said after his son’s suicide last week, “The more you trust God, the more you realize how trustworthy he is.”
And the more we realize how much He wants us to know Him. To let Him carry us. To come out on the other side with a heart more in tune with His.
Mary Langford, whose son also committed suicide, said even though the pain was loud when she learned of her son’s death, just as loud was the unmistakable impression:
Don’t waste anything.
“I had recently read a book on the theme of God’s use of the fragments and broken things in life,” she wrote. “The idea had come from John 6, the story of the feeding of the 5,000, after which Jesus directed His disciples to gather up the food fragments, that nothing be wasted. In those first moments of incredible pain, confusion, and helplessness, the Lord brought that phrase to my mind. It became the guide for my own grief work and for every decision which had to be made as an aftermath of our son’s death: Let nothing be wasted.”
May I waste nothing.
And may we get there soon.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus.
“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” – C.S. Lewis