You know it's there, it sticks out like a 500 pound elephant that just wandered into the room. You know its there, everyone around you knows its there, but everyone seems to want to ignore this obvious thing that just crashed into the room! The elephant that I'm describing is what happens when someone has experienced a loss like we Greens & Deasons have experienced with the home-going of our sweet little Addison. It is the tension everyone feels when part of the family walks into the room and everyone has so many questions they are dying to ask, they are scrambling for words to say and nothing seems to be appropriate so what in the world do we do? We can pretend the 500 pound elephant doesn't exist, we can say something silly that we wish we could take back, we can ask "How are you doing?" and hope upon hope the obligatory "Fine" response comes back immediately. We can talk about the weather, we can talk about sports, anything and everything to avoid that elephant.
Well let me help a little bit at least with me; and I think the rest of my family would echo a couple of thoughts, but they are all unique and very different so I could be wrong.
1) We've never lost a daughter, grand-daughter, great-grand daughter, or a niece before so we're working this out as we go. We honestly don't know how we'll be feeling literally from one second to the next, we may be doing great, we may be falling apart when you see us, so we'd like for you to be patient with us as we're processing our sorrow. We are sorrowing, but not as those who have no hope. Jesus wept at the tomb of His best friend Lazarus and I figure if the Son of God was crying over the death of His friend, we can cry because of Addison. It kind of comes and goes in waves and it's the most strange thing because seemingly neutral things can set off a wave of emotion. I was in Starbucks the other day and for no particular reason, I was overcome and just had to go outside to get some air. So if we fall apart next to you, don't feel badly, it probably was not you, it's just us sorting through the grief process. By the way, please don't ask "How are you doing?" unless you are willing or interested in getting an honest answer that may not be the customary "fine." We're all pretty much direct and we've all learned to be honest - so consider yourself warned.
2) Please don't feel like you have to say anything when you see us, but let's agree together not to ignore the 500 pound elephant. So many of you have said nothing more than that you're continuing to pray for us and that you've been praying for us. Honestly, that means more to each of us than you'll ever be able to comprehend and we'll always be profoundly grateful for each of those prayers. God's grace, peace and mercy continues to flow to us through the conduit of your prayers and it is such an amazing blessing. Cliches and platitudes are of no help, but the simple prayers of the saints of God and the Word of God heals the soul.
3) It's humbling to us when we see you are hurting with us and you are experiencing grief with us. Honestly I've been moved to tears because I see how this whole thing has been affecting many of you and no one has been praying for you. So thanks for sharing in our grief and walking alongside us. Let me encourage you to tell us how this has affected you so we can pray for you. Sharing tears with our brothers and sisters is a wonderful salve the Holy Spirit will use to bind and heal our wounds together. If you want a great Bible Study, do a search through the "one another" passages in the New Testament.
4) Ya'll need to know we're not super human, we're not super saints, we're certainly not perfect. We're just like you. My eyes leak a lot sometimes when its just me and the Lord; sometimes I'm just kind of numb from the flurry of activity and running on adrenaline that we've been on, sometimes I may appear incredibly strong. The strength you may see in me or or any of us is not us at all, but the empowering of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God at work in us. I can't explain it, but know that God's grace is indeed sufficient in our weakness. So please don't think we're some kind of abnormal super Christian. We're nothing more than sinners saved by grace and people that God has blessed tremendously.
I believe what bothers a lot of people looking on at us through this thing is the nagging question of how they would respond, or how they responded to something similar that happened to them. Maybe our walking with God through these amazing days has brought to the forefront of your heart and mind something that God wants you to consider. Do you really trust Him to this extent? Is God really faithful even in my darkest hour? How would I respond to this? Those questions are all questions you need to be talking to God about. He wants to talk with you about the issues of life, He wants to commune with you in prayer and Bible Study now so that when trouble begins a stampede in your life, you have someone much bigger than you guarding you. If you would have asked me 18 days ago if I had the faith & strength needed to survive and glorify God in this, my honest answer would have been "I don't know. I would like to think so."
The truth is, I'm still not so sure, I'm just walking with God one step at a time. At the end of today as I'm about to lay down and collapse in bed, I can tell you God's grace was sufficient and His strength was made perfect in me today. Even though I felt out of it and numb, God sustained me this morning and through the day. See in my human daddy and grand daddy "Pops" frailty, I worry I'll have a major melt down tomorrow, or the next day, or maybe it'll come next week, but I worry about it because of my sinful, human condition. But how wonderful to me that the grace and strength I need doesn't depend on me! God has an incredible track record of faithfulness so I will rest tonight because the eternal God has already been in my tomorrow, next day, week or year. He's already working in me and orchestrating my steps that no matter what, He'll be producing the peaceable fruit of righteousness in me and He'll give me what I need at the time. But this peace that passes all of my understanding is being reaped now from years of sowing and investing in my relationship with God. The only difference between me and you may be that I recognized years ago I desperately needed the Lord each and every day and I needed His Word to flow through me, so I have to read it, study it, meditate on it and put it into practice; talking with God about how to apply it to my life. If you'll start walking with God today and never quit, I can promise you, those nagging questions you might be scared of will be answered with the grace and strength God alone provides when you walk through your own trial. The "super saints" are simply those people who choose to walk with God each day, and the reality is, the Lord is the super one, the special one, not anyone who happens to have the name Green or Deason attached to them or any other name. Jesus is the name that's above every name. I'm a Christ follower - that's it, through the good, bad and downright ugly.
Well that may be a lot of hot air to some, but I thought I'd help us learn how to handle that 500 pound elephant: offer him a peanut (I love peanuts, a cup of coffee or a diet coke); and you'll find that elephant is not so big after all. Since the elephant was present a couple of times today, no doubt he'll be lumbering into my space tomorrow, I figured I ought to share, from my little corner of the world to yours...
Pastor Ralph Green
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church www.calvarybelair.com
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church www.calvarybelair.com