Too Many Too Young

This year is a hard year.

We have lost a lot of people this year as a family, a school, a neighborhood, a community, a state, a people. We have lost Brian, Fred Sr., Paul, and Lindsey – to name a precious few.

They were all too young.

Lindsey was one of my sorority sisters and I was shocked to learn that she passed away last night. We weren’t best friends; there were 80-some girls in our chapter at the time and I wasn’t close with all of them. Yet you wouldn’t know that if you saw Lindsey walking up to me before meeting or on campus. She always greeted me with the biggest smile and one of those greetings that you only use with your closest friends; the ones that make your friends feel like they are so loved in just a few words. She was always full of uplifting energy, compassion and kindness, which are wonderful qualities to possess – especially for someone so outwardly beautiful as she.

Lindsey was a wife. I think of what her husband must be going through and I have no words of my own to express how my heart breaks for him. I think of her as a wife and I think of Fred Sr. as a husband. When I think of her in Greek life, I think of Paul.  And when I think of that contagious smile, I think of Brian.

I am reminded through Lindsey’s passing that this isn’t just a tragic death of one friend. It isn’t an isolated event. It’s a hard year.

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When we talk about death, we say that we lost these people. But they’re not lost. They are wrapped in the arms of a loving God and they have never been more found. We are lost, left trying to define our new norms. But in our grief, we can have hope.

In times like this, I think of a passage that I have had to turn to too many times this year:

Romans 8:26-28 (The Message): “…God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans…”

What a beautiful sentiment.

If you have experienced grief, you are too familiar with that deep ache. The one that resonates through the body, mind, and soul – incapacitating you of words. And yet here we are promised that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and gives words to our suffering. The Spirit speaks out our prayers for us.

The passage is significant to me not just because it tells me that our sighs and groans have meaning to God but because it means that we are in the presence of God when we are most vulnerable to feeling isolated.

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Perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned about faith so far in my adult life is that we can be utterly broken with God. I think a lot of times we focus on the good attitudes and the feelings of joy when we talk about our faith. But we can come to God with our anger, our grief, our feelings of vengeance or anxiety – or our silence – and He hears us. And we can be angry at God. If we keep that dialogue with him open, we can express our anger to him until we are ready to turn it over to him and he will take it up for us without hesitation.

I hope you find as much comfort in that as I do.

Amen.

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