Breakfast is Served

Here’s what I wonder.

If your friend denied knowing you not once but three times, would you forgive him? If your friend hurt someone coming to arrest you for a crime you didn’t commit, would you heal the officer your friend injured and rebuke your friend? If you found your friend sleeping at the hour you needed him most, would you still trust him? If you had known your friend was going to desert you that very night, would you still call him friend? If that same friend later fervently promised that he loved you after all that, would you believe him?

Here’s the real story.

Early in the evening as Jesus was arrested, Peter fought back by cutting off the ear of one of the men arresting him. As Jesus was taken away, Peter followed from a distance. He stood in the courtyard watching from afar as the one he loved was tried for a crime he didn’t commit. Did he step up as a witness for his friend? Not at all. When asked if he knew the man, he denied it. He was asked three times by three different people. Each time, he gave the same answer. No. I don’t know him.

Then a rooster crowed.

If he was willing to fight for Jesus when he was being arrested, why not fight for him after the arrest? Did fear grip his heart so completely that he wasn’t thinking straight? Was he only thinking of himself? Trying to save his own life? Why wasn’t Jesus’ life worth saving? Jesus was being tried for a crime he didn’t commit. Peter knew that. He could have defended this man called King of the Jews. But if the King’s life was in danger, what did that say for his followers? It would be a death sentence to stand up for truth. Wouldn’t it? Is that why Peter denied knowing him? He was afraid for his life?

The miracle is that Jesus was raised from death to life. Oh sure. He was nailed to a cross and died. But on the third day in the tomb, the breath of life was breathed into him. The tomb where he was buried was empty. He had unfinished business to attend to. And rightly so.

And early one morning, Peter and some other disciples were fishing. Jesus came along and started a fire on the shore. He cooked breakfast for them. He was waiting for his friends. His followers. For those who believed in him. For those who knew him. For those who loved him.

But wait. He cooked breakfast for Peter after what Peter had done to him? How could he? Why would he willingly get up early and serve breakfast to a man who denied even knowing him? And he wasn’t just any man. He was a close friend. They had spent many hours together.


So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. John 13:34


Is this how I would treat a close friend who denied knowing me? Someone who lied about our relationship?

Would I go out of my way to serve a friend who had wronged me? Would I still call him friend? Or would I write him off? Forget him? How would I want my friend to treat me if I had done the same to him?

Am I willing to spend time with someone who has betrayed me? Or thinks differently than I do? If Jesus was willing and able to forgive Peter and still love him, can’t I do the same for you? Can you do the same for me?

And at that fateful fireside breakfast, Peter’s relationship with Jesus was restored. As they and the other disciples ate their fish and bread, Jesus asked Peter a question. Not once, but three times. Peter, do you love me? And each time, Peter said yes. But oh. Peter knew the significance of being asked three times. He thought back to another question he was asked three times as Jesus was being assaulted. You know him, don’t you? And he answered no all three times.

But this time was different, Peter was committed to Jesus at all costs. Peter’s relationship with Jesus was restored as they ate their breakfast by the sea. Jesus challenged him to love. and love deeply.

Do you accept the challenge to love deeply? Love the unloveable. Love the lonely. The hurting. Love those who don’t love you. Love those who have mistreated you. Those who are different from you. Are you willing? At all costs?

Boiling Point

It’s easy to get frustrated these days. Annoyed over the most petty things. But emotions have been building for weeks now, and I’ve reached the boiling point. When for once, you want something for nothing and you’re asked to give even more. Enough.

There I said it.

Coworkers asked for a lifeline, but were instead given what feels like a noose. Perhaps I exaggerate, but feeling are raw in the moment.

We asked for mercy. We need some down time, we said. Flex time. So we can have a few hours that we would normally be working to just not work. Sure. They said. That sounds like a great idea. We wanted something for nothing at a time when all we’re doing is giving. But no.

They said sure. Take extra hours off each week. But make them up. You can even work on Saturday and Sunday to make up the extra hours. Go ahead.

Why did a good thing all of a sudden feel like a punch to the gut? Why, in a time when people are suffering. When those working need some time off, we’re slammed with extra work and lack of understanding.

Don’t get me wrong. We’re thankful to be working. To still be employed. We’re just asking for a break before we’re slammed with work and can’t take time off.

We’re all frustrated. Getting more so by the day. But who cares? It seems they’re only hearing the words being said and not the words that aren’t. It would be helpful at a time like this for those in authority to really listen. Sure. They make their own hours. The company is their responsibility. Their personal investment is on the line. They say we’re doing great work. But work some more. They say. And when things get back to normal, we’ll be swamped with a lot more work.

No rest for the weary.

I know I rant. I apologize.


Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 1 Corinthians 13:5


I was so close to taking my frustrations out on those I love. In these moments, even petty annoyances seem like mountains. I was even close to tears. I knew I needed to step back and assess the situation. I knew I needed to go to the One who provides calm when the storm is raging. I opened the Word and searched for words to sooth a frustrated heart.

I read multiple verses until I found the one that stuck a dagger in my heart. The verse that told me I was in the wrong. The verse told me that if I proceeded with using strong words when words of kindness and grace were needed, I was at risk of sinning. So I stepped back. My heart fell on its knees and repented. My soul needs a scrubbing in days like these. I realized my soul covering needs to be replaced every day, because the filter gets full of unwanted sin germs and can no longer filter.

Oh. I’ve lived through worse times. Unemployment. Death of loved ones. So I know I’ll get through this. I know I’ll come out having learned lessons I didn’t know I needed to learn. But in the thick of it, the lessons are hard. And at times, my heart feels hard.

Just when I thought I was doing fine keeping it together during this pandemic, the truth comes out. And I realize it’s uglier than I want to admit. Soul work is hard even when life is all you want it to be. Even harder when life is tough. But I know that God is good even when life seems unfair. And I’ll chalk up this frustrating moment as a life lesson that I don’t want to repeat. Because words once said can’t be unsaid.

Never miss a good chance to shut up.

Will Rogers

This Man

This man. He is the love of my life. We shared the vows. For better. For worse. For richer. For poorer. In sickness and in health. Till death us do part. We signed the pledge. We are one.

This man. He is a man of strength. He is a man of his word. He is kind. He is faithful. He is honorable. He is a problem solver.

This man. He has the gift of helps. He enjoys serving others. Helping them to find the work that is right for them. He is a mentor to young men at his work place. He counsels them. He encourages them. He corrects them. He guides them to thinking about others more than self. He stands up for those who have been wronged and counsels those who are guilty.

This man. He is a type-A personality. He was a workaholic in his younger years. He spent more time at work than anywhere else. He knows the value of hard work. Now he has learned the value of slowing down. Of taking time for himself. Taking it easy is now a gentle reminder of a hard day’s work.

This man. I recall the years when he was his mother’s caregiver. Each week, he would buy and deliver her groceries. He would spend time with her. Take her to appointments. Pay her bills. Sit and listen to her. He honored his mother and took care of her earthly needs until her dying day.


This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. John 15:12


This man. He seemed to enjoy the spotlight when he was young. He enjoyed being the center of attention. But as he grew more comfortable with himself and his lot in life, his true personality shone forth. He is an introvert. He enjoys time alone. He enjoys quiet hobbies. He looks forward to being in the comfort of his home, yet he always welcomes newcomers with a smile and a handshake. He’s comfortable in his own skin.

This man. He gives good advice. He owns godly wisdom like it’s no one’s business. He speaks words of truth and depth, when at times it isn’t popular. He offers advice from his years of working with a range of personalities. He’s spent years working for taskmasters and also for those who treated him as an equal. He makes others feel welcome and wanted.

This man. At his core, he is a musician. He makes music as if it’s a simple task. His talent reaches to the heart of the listener. He plays his instruments with a gentle touch, yet the sound is powerful enough to move one to tears.

This man. He knows the difference between right and wrong. He knows the whip of rejection, yet he has experienced the brush of exoneration. He fights for the underdog. He stands for truth and honor.

This man. My husband. The one I choose to call my own. He’s worth more than a thousand men and stands tall among his peers. Grow old along with me. The best is yet to be.

We Have the Hope

She walked into my office and sat down. I don’t think I can do this job. She said. I understood where she was coming from. Just a few short months ago, I was saying the same words.

I told her there was hope. Things will click. It just takes time.  You will get there. I continue to give her words of encouragement, because I know she’s capable. I know if she sticks to it, she will have more than hope. She will have a newfound confidence that comes only through perseverance. I know that eventually she will be able to encourage other new ones who come behind her to persevere in their time of learning.

The thing is. I can’t rescue her from the difficulties she is facing. I can’t relieve the fears she feels in her insecurities. I can’t do the job for her. I have my own work to do. She must face the uncertainties and newness with boldness and strength. She must be willing to do the hard work in order to see the results. I hope she is willing.

But fear is a thing to be reckoned with. It can overtake. Overwhelm. Overrule our good intentions. It can pull us under if we don’t think rationally about the reality of the situation. Oh. It’s ok to be fearful. But fear doesn’t have to rule our lives and thoughts and actions. Fear is a liar.

There is hope. Without hope, we crumble. We fall. We lose our way. But when hope surfaces, the sun shines brighter. The flowers are prettier. The breathing is clearer. The day is worth living.

We all need something to hope for. Something to get us out of bed in the morning. But what is it? What do I hope for? What is my deepest longing?

I have given Christ countless reasons not to love me. None of them changed his mind. Paul Washer

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love?


No power in the sky above or in the earth below — indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39


I’ll tell you what gives me hope and quiets my fears.

Nothing can separate me from God’s love. Not even trouble or calamity. Not even persecution or hunger or poverty or danger. Not even if I’m threatened with death. God loves me even in the hard times.

Death or life can’t separate me from God’s love. Neither can angels or demons. The fears of today and the worries of tomorrow can’t make God stop loving me. The powers of hell can’t separate me from God’s love.

There is no power in the sky above or in the earth below that can remove God’s love from me. Nothing in all of creation will ever be able to separate me from God’s love.

Jesus Christ is mightily loving his people with omnipotent, moment-by-moment love that does not always rescue us from calamity but preserves us for everlasting joy in his presence even through suffering and death. John Piper

The good news is this. God’s love is forever. It is eternal. His love is so deep and so wide. It encompasses everything. No matter what I do or what I say. God will still love me. He can’t stop loving me.

That’s why he paid the ultimate price by giving his Son in my place. That gives me a hope that never runs dry. God’s love is forever. And therein lies my hope.

Great Commission

I heard the phrase on the news again. I never want another person to have to go through what I’ve gone through. It’s a phrase I hear often on the news. Someone was treated unfairly. Someone’s child was bullied. Someone lost a loved one too soon. Someone was swindled out of their life savings. Someone lost everything. Someone was the victim of a crime. And the list goes on.

We never want others to experience the same difficulties we’ve faced. So we share our story. Hoping someone will learn lessons we learned too late. Hoping our loss will help steer someone clear of the same grief. Or teach them how to cope better than we did.

Does it work? Our sharing? Do others listen and learn from our tough times? We only hope they do. Because we’ve learned from those times that we can survive. We’ve learned some wounds will heal and become scars. Reminders of our suffering. We’ve learned we must forgive. We’ve learned that life goes on. Even when we feel that we can’t. But we do.



But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? Romans 10:14


What if we would say this. I don’t want anyone else to go through life not knowing God. I don’t want anyone to live life thinking they have to be self sufficient. I don’t want anyone else to live without God being their source of strength. I don’t want anyone else to die without being ready to meet God. What would I have to do to make sure that happened?

If only everyone knew that in times of grief, God will give sustaining grace. If only everyone experienced the peace that comes with God’s forgiveness. Do people know that God doesn’t lie? When God makes a promise, He keeps it. Always. Does everyone know that God forgives and forgets? Does everyone know that God is three in one? God the Father. God the Son, Jesus Christ. God the Holy Spirit. They’re all different, but they’re one.

Does it work? Our sharing of our faith? Does sharing how God will never quit loving each of us and that He’s always available make a difference in someone else’s life? I hope and pray that it makes a difference. Otherwise. People will be lost. People will live without hope if they haven’t heard that God loves them.

We should tell our story.  Our hurts. Our fears. Our shame. Our successes.  Our failures.  Our losses. Our redemption.  How else will others know salvation is worth it? How will someone else know that a relationship with God is the most important one they could ever have? How will the world know unless those who walk with Christ lead others to him?

There is a great commission. Go and tell everyone that Jesus Christ is Lord of Lords. That Jesus died for them. That he wants to spend eternity with them in heaven. That they can escape hell. 

Good Good Father

I’ve heard it said that a person’s view of God is based on their relationship with their dad.  I’ve always had a respectful view of God.  I trust him.  I love him.  He is the authority.  Let me tell you why that is my impression of God.

My dad was always in charge.  He was the leader of our family.  He was the provider.  The authoritarian.  He was a tease.  He had a great sense of humor.  He had a great work ethic.  He loved his work.  He loved his family.  He helped those in need.

My dad  provided everything I needed.  No.  He didn’t give me everything I wanted.  But I never went hungry.  I was always clothed.  He built our home.  I was warm when I needed to be.  I was cool when I needed to be.

My dad taught me to work.  Whether I liked it or not, my dad handed out chores for his kids to do.  Mowing the lawn.  Weeding the garden.  Cleaning the hog house.  Working on the farm.

I saw my dad spending time with God every day.  He would read his Bible before breakfast.  He would lead our family in devotions every night before bed.  He would pray for us.  He would pray with us.  My dad made sure his family spent time in God’s word every day.

My dad was always present.  He was available when we needed him.  Oh.  He worked hard.  He worked long hours.  But he always took a Sabbath to rest and restore his spirit.  He was in a noisy environment a lot of the day, so he wanted peace and quiet at home.  That wasn’t easy with seven kids.  But we knew that once he walked in the door, the piano practice time was over.  The radio was turned off.  He wanted to hear himself think.

My dad was a disciplinarian.  When we did wrong.  And we did.  He disciplined us.  It wasn’t pleasant, but it taught us to respect authority and trust his leadership.

Oh.  My dad wasn’t perfect.  But he was honest.  He was a powerful influence in my life.  He took his faith seriously.  He had a library of Bible commentaries, Christian books and Bibles to study as he prepared to teach his Sunday School class each week.

My dad is the man I measured all other men by.  He set the standard high.

He was a good good father.


The Lord is merciful! He is kind and patient, and his love never fails.          Psalm 103:8

I think of God.  My heavenly Father.  He is the giver of life.  He is the lover of my soul.  He provides for all my needs.

My heavenly Father allows me to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, but he calms my fear of evil.  My God is so wise that He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul.  When I am fearful, he alone is my source of strength and resilience.

Oh.  He disciplines me.  When I disobey, he teaches me how to be more like Him.  When I don’t spend enough time with Him, He calls me back.

The thing about God.  He is perfect.  He knows exactly what I need when I need it.  He provides at just the right time.  He does no wrong.  He cannot.  He will not.

My God is always with me.  I can’t move without him knowing it.  Oh.  He can see everything I do.   He hears every word I speak.  He reads my every thought.  He never leaves my side.  He is always available anytime I call out to him.  He fights for me.  He works on my behalf.

God shows me favor.  At times, I feel as if I’m his favorite child.  He showers me with blessings that I don’t deserve.  He loves me unconditionally.  No matter what I do, He never gives up on me.  He will not stop loving me.

He is the God I measure all other gods by.  May I never waver in the God I serve.

He is a good good Father.

 

 

 

Who are you wearing

It’s awards season.  The nominees have been announced.  They’ll get all fancied up.  For the event.  They’ll spend hours primping and priming and tucking and sleeking.  Hair is done.  Makeup is done.  Nails are done.  Nothing is left undone.  They must look their best.  The world will be watching.  Mostly from afar.

They’ve fasted.  They’ve dieted.  They’ve cleansed.  They’re as thin as they’re going to be.  For that night.

They’ve been offered the best of the best among the dresses.  The jewelry.  The shoes.  They must choose the attire they think will outshine everyone else.  For everyone else will be looking.  They will all be looking.  Hoping to win the best dressed award.  Which really isn’t an award.  It’s an opinion.  But opinions do matter.  Especially on this night.

I’ve watched the red carpet events for years.  Oh.  Not the actual awards shows.  But the shows as the gowns are being paraded down the red carpet.  The women pose.  First to the front with hand on hip.  Then flip out the leg if the slit is high enough.  And it is usually high enough.  Turn around to show off the back of the dress.  If the dress has a back.  Smile your brightest whitest smile.

They’re all waiting for the question.  The one question.  It’s a big question.  It’s asked at every event.  Supposedly made famous by Joan Rivers.  Who are you wearing?  That’s the question.  Oh.  It’s important.  It’s very important to give the designer’s name.  The name of the person who created the dress.  You see.  If someone rich and famous wears that designer’s clothes, then it’s assumed the rest of us will want to wear them.  Or knockoffs.  Whatever fits the budget.  Oh.  It’s a serious thing.  It’s a money maker.

But woe is the designer whose dress makes the worst dressed list.  As one show says.  One day you’re in.  The next day you’re out.  All because of other people’s opinions.

One particular event.  Every woman wore black.  They were making a statement.  They were taking names.  They were sharing a message.  With the color of their dress.  That event wasn’t so much about who they were wearing.  But it was about the color they were wearing.  Or weren’t wearing.  Fighting for a cause of their choice.  Daring others to join in or be called out.


And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Philippians 4:8


The way I see it.  I have a choice every day.  Every single day.  Which designer will I wear?  There are two designers to choose from.  Some may think two isn’t much of a selection.  Frankly.  One is all we need.  But we have a choice.  There’s an obvious difference in their designs.  In their taste level.  In their purpose.  And the choice makes a huge difference.  In everything.  One designer is the master creator.  The other is the master deceiver.

The master creator clothes us with truth.  Honor.  Respect.  Purity.  Love.  Grace.  And the price for all this. You ask.  There is no cost.  For us.  He paid a great price.  He gave his only son so we could be clothed in forgiveness.

The deceiver.  He clothes his followers with arrogance.  Deceit.  Murder.  Evil.  Wickedness.  Conflict.  Lies.
Oh.  The deceiver had his chance to work with the master designer.  But he wanted the top position.  It didn’t end well for him.  So he’s trying to trick anyone and everyone to wear his designs.  But don’t be fooled.  His designs come at a great price.
Just so you know.  Everyone is watching.  They’re listening.  They’re looking to see which designer you’ve chosen.  Is it easy to tell at first glance?  Do others ask for the name of your designer, because they like what they see?  Or are your knockoffs easy to spot?
So I dare to ask.  Who are you wearing?

 

We Can Change

Change is good.  That’s what they say.  Whoever they are.

We change our diets.  If we have to.  We change jobs.  Some people change spouses.  We can even change our gender.  On the outside, at least.

We change to try to please others.  To get in their good graces.  To get on their good side.

We change the color of our hair.  We change our weight.  We change our zip code.  We change.

I remember a couple of changes I made.  Not big changes.  Petty ones, really.  I remember when grocery stores switched from paper bags to plastic.  I resisted.  I didn’t want plastic bags.  The funny thing is.  I got used to them.  Now I’m told that plastic is environmentally unfriendly.  Stores are returning to paper.  I find myself resisting again.  I’ve changed.

When paper towels became available in full and half sizes, I resisted.  I wanted the full size.  Now I only buy the ones with an option.   Full or half size.  I sometimes feel that I’m being wasteful if I use a full paper towel when I only need a half size.   I’ve changed.

I used to drink pop.  Now I don’t.  I used to eat sugar.  Now I don’t.  I used to take naps.  Now I don’t.  I’ve changed.

So we can change.  We just don’t want to.  It isn’t easy.  It isn’t fun.  It upsets our routines.  We’re set in our ways.  But we can change.  We just have to want to.  We have to work on changing.

What changes do we make just to make our life easier?  What bad habits do we stop doing?  What bad words do we stop saying?  What bad attitudes do we correct?  What gossip do we stop spreading?

What changes do we willingly make?  What is the good we intentionally start doing?

There are some changes that I resist.  No matter what.  I just don’t want to change.  It just seems too hard to change a bad attitude.  That would take work.  And will power.  It’s hard to love the unlovable.  Those who treat us bad or bully us or reject us.  But we can love them.  Love is a choice.


And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.  Ezekiel 36:26


If I listed all the changes I’ve made in my life, would I even be able to list one character flaw that I’ve worked to change?  Do I expect God to forgive me and then me not be willing to change?

Isn’t maturity a sign of change?  Isn’t change a sign of maturity?

Look at Paul.  I mean Saul.  Saul changed.  God called out to him.  And Saul changed his life.  He changed his behavior.  He changed his motives.  He went from hunting Christians to being a leader of Christians.  He changed his name.  Paul changed.

The soul that’s in tune with God.  That truly loves God will change.  Will want to change the old for the new.  Old attitudes for new.  Old beliefs for new.  Old ways for new.  Perhaps old friends for new.  It’s possible.  It can happen.  Our hearts can change.  Our hearts must change.

I See You

I know this guy.  Honestly.  I don’t know him well.  But I know enough.  I’ve never felt comfortable around him.  I can’t really pinpoint the reason, but it’s there.  Hiding behind the façade of friendliness.  I see inconsistencies in him.  I hear the words he says.  I see the look he gives.  I know what he does.  He’s fighting something.  He’s facing a storm within.

The fight looks familiar.  It feels like it fits.  I think the inconsistency I see in him is the one I’m trying to hide in myself.  The thing that bothers me is the flaw I see in him is what I don’t want others to see in me.  But I see it in him.  Is it because his flaws are similar to mine?  If he can’t hide his, then what are the chances mine are hidden?  Who is seeing my flaws?  Do they judge me as I’m judging him?

Oh.  It’s not my intention to judge him.  But if I’m honest.  Really honest.  I’m judging.  I want to call out his narrow-mindedness, while I shove mine down.  Hoping no one sees.

What inconsistencies do others see in me?  Who do I think I’m fooling?

I wouldn’t call him out publicly by name.  I wouldn’t do that.  But I watch.  Hoping he’ll change.  Hoping I’ll change.  So maybe the one who’s watching me sees change in me.  I’m trying.  Perhaps he’s trying, too.  I like to think he’s trying.

I don’t know his history.  I don’t know what caused his attitude and his faults.

Instead of focusing on his flaws, why don’t I look for his strengths? His gifts?  His talents?  They’re easy to spot.  If you know him.  If you see him in action.  And his career is pretty spectacular.  He works to make people’s lives better.  That has to be a good feeling.  Why not praise him for those things instead of tear him down for his imperfections?  Why is it so much easier to focus on those annoyances?


If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.  But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.   1 John 1:8-10


I look at my faults.  My flaws.  The inconsistencies in my life that I try to keep hidden.  Oh.  I know God sees them.  He knows them.  He lets me know he sees them.  And asks me to do something about it.  He wants me to change.

Someone recently told me one of the faults they see in me.  They didn’t call it a fault.  They just let me know that’s how they see me.  They believe it to be truth.  I was left trying to figure out why they think that of me.  It’s interesting, humbling and eye-opening to hear others describe you to your face.  Sometimes their critiques are correct.  Other times, their words make me stop and examine myself.

Maybe I’ve been denying the truth.  Maybe I’ve been so blind that I can’t see my own faults.

Reuben Welch once said that we really do need each other.  And we do.  We need to hold each other accountable.  We need to encourage each other.  We need to stand with each other.  We need to pray for each other.  We need to love each other.

The book of 1 John was written to a group of believers who weren’t getting along.  John was asking them to be better.  To be together.  Not against each other.  It takes work on both sides.  We can see each other’s flaws and still get along.

Acquainted with Grief

She walked over to me that Sunday morning after church.  In a quiet voice, she said, “How do you do it?  How do you get through each day?”

A year earlier, I had lost my older brother.  Five years before that, my husband had lost his sister.  I am acquainted with grief.  She knew that I knew what she was asking.  My friend had lost both of her parents just a few months apart and was having trouble coping with the loss and the pain.  I recall feeling bad for her, because I couldn’t fathom losing my parents, let alone just a few months apart.

As we talked through our hurt and loss, we shared a common bond.  Grief does not discriminate.  It hits everyone who has lost a loved one.  It’s not a club you want to join, but you can’t refuse membership once it’s offered.  Membership is free, but you’ve already paid a great price.  You’re in the club in that moment of loss. With that one phone call.  Or with the knock on the door.  He’s gone.  She’s not going to make it through the night.  The test results are in, and it doesn’t look good.  There’s been an accident, and there are no survivors.

Little did I know at the time of our conversation, that only a few years later I would once again be circled by grief as I lost my parents eleven days apart.  Eleven. Days. Apart.

I am acquainted with grief.  I am acquainted with loss.  I am acquainted with the replaying over and over in my mind of how the scene of death played out for my loved ones. What were his last words?  When was the last time I saw her alive? Those thoughts filled every moment of every day for months on end.

What I realize now is that we really do need each other.  In those times of loss and uncertainty and unfamiliarity as we face a future without those loved ones, we need others who have walked that path.  We need someone to hold us up and to encourage us to grieve.  To live through the hard parts of life without our loved one.  We need someone to be there for us in those times when we can’t hold ourselves together.  When the memories and the loss are flooding down on us, and we feel like we can’t breathe.  When we don’t know if life will ever feel normal again.  We need to tell our story of loss over and over again.  We especially need someone to listen to our story. To hear our hurt and our pain.  To let us know that there is hope.  To let us know that as life goes on, we should cherish the memories we have and hold onto them.

As Reuben Welch said, “We really do need each other.”

Love one another, as I have loved you.  John 15:12