Written Aug 2013
I hate going to church. The people there are too real, too ready to go just a bit deeper, if you say, “ no, really, how are you?” and they expect real answers as well. And the music, always that damn music. It may not be studio perfect but the pureness of the praise, the surety of the seeking, the clear crying out to the Lord to just hear us. It breaks through every defense I erect. I may as well be laid bare each week as I sit in that place and list my joys and my concerns and wipe my eyes and feel the pats on my shoulder. Yet I find that others are in various states of undress as well. Some are buttoned up tight, never baring their soul to those of us in the chairs each week. But many others are coming undone too, as the Holy Spirit ministers to us in our chaos and our pain. All this is to say, yesterday at church broke my heart. I couldn’t stop looking for my grandson, who just wasn’t there. He didn’t come running in for the music, he didn’t dance in front of the praise band. I knew he wasn’t going to be there, but for some reason, I could not stop turning and looking for him. I just couldn’t stop. So the disappointment grew greater and greater as the music played on and I tried ever harder to focus, just focus damnit. My head would turn until the ache became so overpowering that the tears I had been holding back for a month gushed forth and I had to leave the sanctuary, to find it in an empty classroom close by. I sobbed with no control as the music played on. Catharsis. Empty finally, as the children were leaving the service to go to their own, I returned to my seat. Better, freer, lighter.
After the service I stopped a friend to really ask how she was, how the little community was doing after the recent loss of two young men in a car accident. She shared the following story: one of the young men had gotten a big tattoo across his chest earlier in the summer with his name and the words “est 1993” which resulted in a big mom and son fight. Mom is now getting the same tattoo on her foot to honor her lost son. Perspective. It reminded me of a huge fight that Arrow and I got into when he had been sober for 90 days and then got a tattoo on his wrist. “He had no money to pay for it, it was going to keep him from ever getting a job, he was hanging around the wrong people.” He left the house and stayed with friends and his sobriety was over. Not because of the fight but it is a symbol we both point to, a turning point. When he called yesterday, from prison, I shared the story of the mom and her tattoo. Arrow said, “I bet his mom wishes her son was calling from prison.” Perspective.
We talked about another mom I know who has a tattoo on her arm, commemorating her lost son, a young man gone too son from a life mixed up in drugs. We made it a goal for me to never get one of those tattoos.
I think the Holy Spirit kept turning my head to see there is much suffering and much joy outside of mine. I have to let mine out sometimes to make room to see and feel that of others. Today I am deeply in prayer for the moms who will never see a grandson, never see their sons again. We still have chances. My heart was broken wide open for them yesterday. Church really does hurt, when done right.