I have been convicted of many things since the loss of my daughter. My priorities, namely, became a glaring problem. My own comfort, happiness and selfishness are too high on the list of importance. I have been silent on many things in my life because it was uncomfortable, because I didn’t want to hurt feelings or say the wrong thing. There is truth to the statement, “If you aren’t sure what to say, don’t say anything at all.” I believe that. I also believe there are times when the Holy Spirit moves and you have something to say, but quench the Spirit in order to fit into society.
I lament the times I wish I had sent a personal note, a text message or picked up the phone and called someone, but instead remained silent. Maybe I wasn’t sure what to say, but I’m sure the message, “I love you and I care” would have been a well received message at the very least. I regret the instances when I let too much time pass and then felt it had been too long to say anything. In fact, it is never too late to do the right thing.
It is never too late to do the right thing.
We have an amazing community of friends, family and even strangers. I am so grateful and I praise the Lord for His providence. The evening that Jane died, our nearly quarter of a mile long driveway was full of first responders. It’s possible the entire sheriff’s department was at our house. I don’t know all of their names, but there are a few that I will literally never forget their face. They had a face of help, of compassion and they did their job well. I am forever grateful for those men and women. We have been loved on in countless ways. People have brought us food, prayed with and for us, sent encouraging notes, given to wonderful causes in Jane’s name, loved our children and loved us so well. It is a blessing and I don’t take it for granted. There have even been people that I have never met before that have been incredibly faithful to pray and offer encouragement. The goodness of strangers and people that I am barely acquainted with has blown me away.
My perspective has shifted and my ego has been stripped bare. I have been humbled. When people choose to not say anything, it can sometimes be more hurtful than saying a simple, “I care and I’m sorry for your loss.” I don’t expect to be the center of attention and I know our suffering and pain are minimal in comparison with most. It is our suffering and it is personal. I don’t expect everyone to understand and relate, but I certainly notice and appreciate those that have been willing to at the very least sit with us in our grief and heartache.
For the past several days I have been reading through 1 Timothy with our children. My children who have also experienced significant loss. My children who have had a perspective change without their asking for it. After we read the Bible, we pray. I have been floored by the wisdom, humility and courage that has come forth from my children’s mouth. My four year old has been praying, “Dear God, help me to fight the good fight.” My six year old prays, “God, please give me courage to stand up for what is right.” My eight year old has been praying against racism. By the time it is my turn to pray, I am often left without words.
“God, please give me courage to stand up for what is right.”
I have had to own up to the ways I have let complacency and apathy dictate my emotions, decisions and speech. I have prayed earnestly that any word that leaves my lips or is typed by my fingertips would be ordained by the Holy Spirit. Lately, that has called me to incredibly vulnerable spaces. I have had to pray, like Leah, “God please give me courage.” In bearing my grief, joy, suffering and loss, I am opening myself up to criticism, misunderstanding and ill will. But I have learned that silence is loud and sometimes silence is sin.
I have learned that silence is loud and sometimes silence is sin.
We have had faithful friends and strangers live out Romans 12:15 which says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” I want to be a faithful friend and stranger too. Right now and for a long time to be quite honest, my black brothers and sisters have been mourning. I have been silent too long and I repent. It might be easy to claim that I never owned slaves and it might bring me comfort to believe I would have been on the Godly side of the Civil Rights movement, but what I speak about now and what I’m silent about now shows my priorities. If I am more outraged over the cancellation of a cartoon than I am about the blood shed of black brothers and sisters, I am the problem. If I am more concerned with my child crying because he can’t watch his favorite tv show than I am about mothers that are crying out and mourning over the unjust loss of their own child’s life, I am the problem.
I may not always know what to say. I may only be able to offer, “I love you. I care and I am here for you.” But if my own personal experience has taught me anything, it is that a simple message of love and support is better than silence.