Pain, Holidays & Church 

cropped-img_2170.jpgIt was the eve of Easter 2016 and our family was full (in every sense of the word considering we’ve had meals brought to us for the past 2 weeks), our newest baby was healthy, our girls had sweet matching (but not TOO matchy matchy) outfits picked out, a family gathering was planned for Sunday afternoon, and yet Saturday night I stood crying in our kitchen, facing my husband, my heart aching.

We were each getting ready to attend our Saturday night church services. He at one campus to lead worship, the girls and I at another. It was sure to be a wonderful church service, full of people. And yet all I could say through tear filled eyes was “I’m not sure what to do about Jane”.

It is not uncommon for me to cry in the kitchen, for Rich to have to stop what he’s doing and hug me and listen. Since all of Jane’s diagnosis I’ve learned to be honest as my emotions present themselves. I’m not unfamiliar with grieving at random moments. But the truth is, when you’re dealing with disappointment, holidays are hard and church can be painful.

This realization first came to our family Christmas of 2015. I sat holding our tired child in our blue recliner feeling much the same way as I did before church this Easter, telling Rich, “I just don’t want to go.”

Jane wasn’t as little as she used to be. We couldn’t just hold her silently in her cute outfits anymore. She came with a little more, well, work. I knew that dressing her up likely meant that either throw up or drool would “ruin” what she was wearing in a matter of minutes. Other families would probably be taking Christmas photos with smiling children who aren’t over stimulated by noise or light. And some child who is exactly Jane’s age would probably be up on stage singing all the words  and doing all the dance moves to the yearly Christmas song, looking as cute as ever, talking and mobile. Checking Jane into childcare meant leaving her with babies half her age, hoping someone would know her nonverbal cues of what she needed. They wouldn’t know that she can only sit with support, but you definitely shouldn’t hold her like a baby. They would need to wipe her drool and she would love to be held, but only for a short time since she is much bigger now. But the thought of her sitting alone in her stroller because she was too heavy to hold also tore me to pieces.

In short, what I anticipated to find at church, was an amplification of my lack. Kids who can walk and talk. Parents who have healthy babies and can check their kid into childcare without worrying if they’ll be having a seizure in their absence. It all seems to scream at you when you go to a gathering as large as our church, and even more so on holidays.

And I can only imagine that this rings true for many people dealing with disappointment.

You’ve been unsuccessfully trying to conceive and all you can see are pregnant women and newborns. You lost your job and all you see are wealthy people joyfully leaving their checks in the tithe boxes. You are single and see couple after couple walking in to church holding hands, grabbing seats in pairs. You’ve lost a loved one and all you can see are joyful people, ignorant of your grief. Your lack is amplified.

This is what I expected before going to church this Easter weekend. But what I encountered was much different.

Upon checking Jane into childcare we were greeted by the friendliest faces, who were understanding of her limits and potential needs. While my heart still aches at her condition, my mind was greatly put at ease.

But the peace and the assurance I needed didn’t stop with dropping off my oldest. Within the walls of the main sanctuary, the music began to play, and with my newborn strapped to my chest I sat in one of nearly two thousand seats. A man got on the microphone and began to recite the almost innumerable attributes of the God we were celebrating. It was moving, powerful and all true. Suddenly, as I tried not to fall on the floor and ugly cry, my lack was outshined by something greater — the abundance of Jesus.

I wasn’t just one anymore. One alone in my kitchen, one silent in my car, one contemplating the future of my family- I was one of thousands. Thousands of hurting, broken people who are in desperate need of someone who can heal their hurts, no matter what state they come in. One of a multitude who are in need of a Savior. And amongst the multitude, He had made a place for me. He’s made a place for me in my darkest times. In eternity, in His arms and in the gathering of His church, I have a place.

As I joined the multitude of worshippers that Easter eve, there was a beautiful melding of my lack and His abundance. Of how real my turmoil was but also the scars He bore so I can have peace. An awareness of my daughter’s great need for a miracle and the fact that only He is capable of giving sight to the blind. When all I can think about is the ticking of time, watching developmental milestones pass by, writing down the next appointment on the calendar, He is eternal, timeless and always patient with me. And in my most selfish, insecure state, there is a place for me amongst the criminals, adulterers, lame, weak, confused, desperate people who Jesus loved and is still loving.

His hope can be found outside of Easter, outside of Christmas, and absolutely outside of a church building. But what I don’t need is another Starbucks therapy session, a Doctor’s good advice or an organic diet and exercise in an attempt to heal. I need the unified cry for a risen Savior to come heal the hurts of a desperate people. A cry of which He will never ignore.

Matthew 15:30 Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them. 

1 Corinthians 15:17 & 20 If Christ was not raised from the dead, your faith is worth nothing…But it is true! Christ has been raised from the dead! 

Luke 24:5-6 Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here. He is risen.