but it's all our hearts can take

I’ve had some good conversations recently.  We all know that the majority of my time in Seminary I’ve been struggling through this notion of grief and suffering in the Church and how we deal with it.  I’ve written papers, given presentations, walked alongside others, shared my own experiences…overall I’ve tried to enter into this story that we so often shy away from as a church community.
Today I found myself pondering it once again.  I know some people in the middle of a struggle that is hard.  It’s not fair and it’s heartbreaking.  And the worse part of it all is when I feel like I have nothing left to say and my encouragements of “this too shall pass” sound empty and a lot like platitudes.  I have so much faith that God will redeem these hard situations and that his hand is at work even though it feels like He’s not.
And I know this because I’ve been there.  I remember being in the middle of the struggle just praying for a bone to be thrown.  Praying that the hardship will pass and the waters would calm.  And they did.  I’ve lived through them and can honestly say that the waters subside and new life begins.  And my story is richer because of this.
But I also understand that in the midst, it’s hard to see past the waters crashing over your head.  And even as I walk beside these friends and try to hold their hands-I find myself thinking, “I know that this is going to make a great story but right here right now – It hurts.”  And I know that if I find myself thinking that, how much more do the others feel it?
As I processed this all with some friends this morning, I was realizing that my heart is much more attached than I thought it was.  I have grown attached to these friends, I love them and want their pain to stop defining their lives.  I am so angry that they have been dealt this hand and that their lives are forever changed by it.
And then I read this post on The Deeper Family.  In this post the author talks about tipping the scale.  His wife, the mother of his three children, died suddenly.  Life dealt them a short hand, tipping the scale to one side.  In this post the author boldly searches to accept this loss and live in spite of it, to choose to tip the scale back to find its balance.
I’ve never thought about accepting that tragedy does define us.  We have to stop pretending it doesn’t.  It does define our lives, we live in a new reality.  But that doesn’t mean we have to let tragedy diminish our lives.  We can choose to live into the faith that God will redeem the short hand dealt to us by life.
Once we accept that the scale has been tipped, we can tip it back into balance with the way we live our lives in spite of tragedy.
Beautiful concept, and totally liveable.

now it's rising from the ground

This weekend I got to babysit for my favorite Chicago Kansans.  I always love babysitting for them because it usually means a few things: guaranteed laughs, good food, snuggles and some book reading.  It’s a fabulous arrangement.
A side note, with no relevance to this post is that I was babysitting so that the parents, my dear friends, could go watch their team K-State play.  So when I walked in on Saturday night all five family members were wearing K-State t-shirts.  Love it.
So fast forward to dinner.  I had served up our delicious food and we had some Gungor playing in the background.  We were sitting at the table when The Earth is Yours came on.  I made a comment on how much I love that particular song and this conversation followed:
“You know Alicia, this whole CD is about the Bible,” their 5 year old daughter told me.
“I do know that.  Do you know what this song is about?” I replied.
“It’s about how God created the earth and so everything on the earth belongs to Him.”   I could see her mind working on processing this when the chorus came on.  Almost like she couldn’t help it she started singing along.  So I joined in, quickly followed by their 3 year old son.
Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy Lord.  The earth is Yours and singing, 
When the verse kicked back in, I continued my explanation.  I tried to explain what Holy means to these two small minds.  I tried to explain that this song was meant to worship God for his creation and the ways that he provides for us.  I talked about how when we say, “The earth is Yours and singing” we are saying that we recognize that God is the one who created us all and that he is Holy.
Then the chorus came back around.
Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy Lord. The earth is Yours and singing,
Then there was a moment of silence from the kids.  Until my little 5 year old lovely broke it saying, “So we just worshiped right there.”
“We did, yeah.”  I responded with a smile.
For the rest of the night she was astonished by the fact that we can worship whenever we want.
It was one of those moments when you realize that she gets it.  She gets what worship is on the most basic level.  It’s a conversation to grow on as she continues to understand the character of God.
But in that moment, I think she got something that most of us struggle to realize in our everyday lives.