While the betrayal hurt and felt like an extra burden, the tears were much more as a result of feeling so utterly heart-broken for my friends. When I saw them at the funeral home they, as is often the case, seemed to do more to encourage me and speak words of peace to me than I did for them. In a very uncharacteristic show of emotion, I teared up while talking to them, but managed to hold it together until I got outside and then...the floodgates opened. And I wept. For hours. I missed a birthday party for a special person in my life because I could not stop crying. I finally cried myself to sleep and awoke in the morning only to have the tears begin afresh.
I expressed to Tim my confusion because I have dealt with some horrific tragedies in our ministry to others, but never had I felt such an uncontrollable need to sob. I cried for hours that morning and pulled myself together enough to walk into church without causing a scene. The tears began to fall again during worship, I sniffed my way through the message and then I bawled like a baby during worship at the end of church. I left by myself to go home and get lunch ready and I cried so hard on the way home that I thought I'd have to pull over. In my desperation to understand why I was struggling so, I cried out to the Lord. I asked Him why I was experiencing such uncharacteristic brokenness. Now don't get me wrong, I have felt devastated for people I have cared about before and I have shed tears as I watched their pain, but this was different. This felt like such a personal loss and I told Him that as I drove.
I truly felt almost like I had lost a child and was mourning as a distraught Mama would mourn the loss of one of her own babies and, as soon as I voiced that to Him there in the quietness of my car, I felt deep inside that He told me I was right. He told me that He was allowing me to bear some of the Mama grief for my friend because she had 2 memorial services she was speaking at to honor her son and she needed to be able to help her other children process their own grief. As strange as it may sound, I knew at the moment that this was what it would feel like to lose a child and, while my friend would have a lifetime to mourn, for these few days He was letting me shoulder some of her pain.
I came home and texted my friend and told her what the Lord had shown me and she said she wasn't surprised because from the first time we had met we had a deep heart connection. In that moment of confirmation, the pain I felt suddenly went from feeling like a weight upon my shoulders to a holy privilege that I carried with care.
Now my reason for sharing all this isn't even to highlight the part I played in what happened that weekend, but rather to set the stage to share how the Lord ministered to me in a deeply profound way in my distress. For when you are a part of the Body of believers, He allows us to be ministered to by some we know will be by our side always and others who He puts in our path to lift up our arms in unexpected ways...and that happened for me that weekend.
He, of course, used Tim, my kids and my parents to love me and let me cry when I needed to, regardless of what I might be neglecting at the time. He used Karen, the one who I always say is the reason I am not in a padded cell yet, to encourage me, check on me, pray for me and offer to do whatever I needed her to do. He used Kim and the rest of our Bloom leadership (Mikki, Amanda, Shelley and April) to pray for me and to encourage me and to release me from any need I might feel to be there for others because they had it all covered. He let Anthony and Rachel come over Saturday night to check on me because He knows laughter is good medicine and they were the perfect ones to make that happen. He allowed my dear friend, Tonja, to be able to be at church that Sunday and I was able to sit with her and her husband, Bengie. This was so huge for me because, when I finally came totally unglued at the end of service, Tonja held me and rubbed my back and kissed my head and did what she does best...she mothered me. He let a lady who I have not gotten to spend much time with, Betty, come up and pray for me without knowing exactly what she was praying for. He allowed my sweet friend, Michelle, to give me one of the best hugs I've ever had and then take me by my shoulders and look deep into my eyes and tell me she loved me. He used Lisa and Nic and so many others, so many that I know I'm leaving some out, to simply give me a hug because they knew words were not necessary. And He used them, all of them, to remind me of this very important scriptural principle...
we need each other!!!
Those who love us are important when times are good, but those who love us are essential when we are hurting. He also showed me that, while He often has me on the giving end in times of need, it's okay to admit when I'm the one who is hurting and has needs.
That weekend taught me a lot. It made me realize, first and foremost, that life can change in an instant and so we need to keep short accounts with each other. It made me realize that having good friends is a gift and being a good friend is a privilege. It made me even more attune to the pain and needs of others and it gave me a renewed desire to work at relationships and not let petty disagreements cause us to get sideways.
I'm thankful He always uses pain for our good when we yield to Him and I pray He will forever let me remember the first weekend of August 2016!!