Jesus wept. John 11:35
A little while ago, I visited a family who has a loved one who is dying.
In this instance, the one passing is a wife, a mother, a friend. As I walked in, I saw the husband sitting by the bedside. Two sons were in the waiting room. I don’t do a lot of talking during these visits. What is there to say? I usually do a lot of listening.
The family updated me on the status of their loved one. Then, they began to go backward in time. This is very normal in these situations. First comes the effort to put together clues that tell how they got to where they are. Then, comes the stories and memories. I love these so much!
You see, I have a strange habit.
I like to try to put myself in the position of those around me. By doing this, I get to feel a small part of what they feel. This keeps situations from becoming “routine” to me. I know that people in the helping professions are taught not to get emotionally involved with the people they are “working” with. I’m more afraid of not being emotionally involved. I have found that God refreshes me when I feel with others. The alternative is a professional aloofness that I run from like a scared rabbit. Some might say, “How do you handle the up’s and down’s?”
I handle them through knowing that these up’s and down’s are the flavor of life: they reassure me that I am alive.
Life has many flavors and to really live, you must taste them all.
Some are bitter and some are sweet. The bitter can be difficult to bear but I fear a flavorless life more than the pain.
Well, back to my story.
While in the room with the family, I try to put myself in the place of the sons who are losing the only mother they will ever have. I try to imagine what they feel knowing that there were times they didn’t live up to their mother’s teachings and fiercely she still loved them.
What do you want to say to her?
How do you explain just how much she means to you?
I try and put myself in the place of the husband of 69 years; sitting by the bedside of his lifelong companion. He has spent more of his life with her than without her. Life without her seems a distant memory – something placed in a corner so long ago that – that life is draped in cobwebs. Now, he must reach into the corner, dust off those cobwebs and try to remember how he lived life without her.
What is it like to get up and she is not there?
How do I make plans now that she will no longer be included in my immediate future?
Then, I try to place myself in the position of the mother who is passing.
How do you say goodbye to those you love with all your breath and strength?
How do you leave them behind to face the pain and joy of life alone?
I know that the future of the children of the Lord is in His hands. This is the only truly sane way to handle these events. In the instance of Lazarus, Jesus knew He would raise Lazarus from the dead and yet He still wept with the people around Him.
If Jesus did this, then I must too.
This doesn’t mean we are hopeless – it means we are tasting life in all its fullness.
You haven’t known true love until you experience its joy and sorrow.
This is the way of this world. Soon, Jesus will lead us to a place where we know sorrow no longer. Until that moment, give me the courage to feel – and give me the strength to clear the cobwebs from the corner when life demands it.