I was not in the front row of the church. I didn’t have my hands raised during worship. I didn’t even stand up most Sundays. I avoided conversations in the lobby, arriving late, leaving early. I didn’t reach the bar protestant ethics would have me aspire to. And it worried several people. I heard about their worry and was more or less given a to-do list of how to properly mourn as a Christian woman and the wife of a church staff member.
The church lobby became a mission field and I was the target. The nervous desire from others to say and do the right thing came at me like missiles. And to have all of that attention, all of the questions, and good intentions heaved upon me suddenly, unexpectedly, and without permission or invitation and from every direction was too much for me. It was overwhelming and violating. And I am guilty to the core of gushing my own misled good intentions and lengthy well wishes to my hurting friends. And I am sorry in a way I cannot explain.
What I really needed was time and space to think. To question. To merge the chasm between the God I was sure I knew Friday morning and the God I met Friday afternoon when we left to doctor’s office with each other, our daughter, and SMA. To know how this new permanent hurt fit in with what I believed about my Abba who loved me dearly but was allowing this suffering to come down on his daughters. On my daughter.
A few amazing women walked that path with me. They continued to turn me to God, prayed with me, loved me through it, allowed me to mourn and taught me to mourn better. They sat in the dirt and muck with me and cried. And they did it so effortlessly, and with such grace. And I am forever grateful.
I wish someone had told my 23 year old self that the worriers were wrong. That it was okay to mourn. More than that I wish they would have told me that it was okay for me to mourn how I needed to. That it was okay to sit quietly and worship God with tears, if that was all I had left. That it was okay to hurt for a very long time. That it was okay to not be okay for a time, with no time limit. And it’s okay to want to be left alone. It won’t feel like treading water every day, day and night, but some days it will. To ask for help on those days, especially.
That it’s going to be okay.
This will not hurt forever.
There will be joy again.
And God will be there with you, holding you up, holding your hand, holding your tears, holding the very breath He carefully crafted, but He will be there.