The problem with getting older is you spend far too much time at funerals and cemeteries. Both are man-made, and neither was a part of God’s original plan. Our present reality is the self-inflicted result of humanity’s rebellion. Death is a constant companion—an enemy not a friend—who dogs each of our steps beginning at birth. Death claimed one of my friends last week. She was far too young to die, but unexpectedly, that’s exactly what she did. One moment she was here, and the next…she was with Jesus. I mourn what I tell myself is a temporal separation, but I grieve the loss of her intimidating presence and daunting persona. She was a force to be reckoned with—a woman out to change all wrong into right. She made a difference wherever she went—and she went a lot of places.
She was blunt and bold. She said what she meant and meant what she said. She was rarely at a loss for words, and if so not for very long. Her words could be weighty and sharp or tender and compassionate depending on the circumstances. One thing you could always count on—her words were true. You always knew where you stood with her, and if you had any doubts she would clear those up without hesitation.
In fact, at times she scared me and we were dear friends. Not because she was bizarre or frightening, but because she was so comfortable in her own skin. She understood exactly who she was. She knew both her weaknesses and her strengths and she was not afraid of either. Those traits together made her the woman she was. Perhaps her ease with her own mortality is the destination we are all seeking.
She was an excellent wife, an exceptional mother, and an extraordinary grandmother. Her husband, her daughter, and her grandkids are all eternally marked by her self-sacrifice, her enduring love, and her bigger than life personality. Her contagious character is etched in each one like the date on a coin. They cannot deny it, or escape it—she has left an indelible mark that will not be erased. You can see her in their movements, hear her in their conversations, and feel her in their expressions of emotion.
I will miss her greatly, we all will—but in reality, she has probably replaced St. Peter as heaven’s border guard and is already stamping passports and welcoming the new arrivals to heaven. She is a take charge lady. Let’s give honor where honor is due.
Jacquie—we love you, we will miss you, but one thing is for certain—we will see you again one day soon.
Life never turns out according to our plans. Fantasy and reality are usually polar opposites. Fairy tales begin with “Once upon a time” and always end with “They lived happily ever after,” but real life is lived between the first and last line of the fairy tale. Life is tough and very often filled with pain. Every person must face the disappointments, the pain, the frustration, and wounds of life and deal with them correctly or life will ultimately destroy that person.
How you face things determines who you become. You can become a “victim,” one who blames every circumstance, situation, or person you encounter for the pain you are enduring. Victims never really take responsibility for their own lives. It’s easier to blame someone or something for the disappointments you find yourself immersed in. Some pain is self-inflicted and some just comes, but if you choose to be a victim, you will never take responsibility and search out the healing grace that comes from God. Victims are satisfied to moan and groan but refuse to be shown a way out of their pain.
Some face the pain of life by becoming angry. Unresolved anger is often the mask a person puts on to hide the hideous face of unforgiveness. A person unwilling to forgive will find themselves trapped in a prison with no way out. Even God refuses to help when you refuse to forgive. Unforgiveness is an act of the will, and if you won’t forgive God can’t forgive you. Facing life with anger and unforgiveness only insures a life filled with more pain and disappointment.
There are some who simply ignore the pain of real life and stuff it down deep inside in the recesses of their mind – in that little closet at the end of the hall. Carefully tucked away and hidden, you may think, “out of sight out of mind,” but you are deluded if you think pain will stay hidden and not affect the way you think and feel. Pain is real and it cannot be ignored. Disappointment comes; sometimes on a daily basis and to ignore it or belittle it or act like it does not matter is to lie to yourself and to insure you will be faced with the pain over and over and over.
Life is not always easy and plans don’t always go as they were intended. People get hurt, they die, they lie, or they do stupid things. Things happen that are beyond our control, and try as hard as we may there is no rational explanation that satisfies the desperate crying of our hearts for an answer that makes sense. Sometimes there is no way to get around the pain or disappointment or wound except to walk through it.
The comforting thing about facing your pain is that you never walk through it alone. Abba Father, the Beloved One, has a habit of lifting you up from the bitter path of disappointment, gently enveloping you in His strong arms and carrying you through the pain, singing over you as a mother would sing to her child to calm their fears. God cares – no matter the reason for the pain. God cares and only He has the ability to heal the wounds, the frustrations, the memories, the disappointments, and yes, ultimately the pain.
Why walk alone? Why would you even walk when your Abba Father is willing and able to carry you through to the other side?