The words “Look Up” have been on my mind a lot lately. As I reflect on my own life experience, I can see that (when I’m honest) I’ve felt a lot of shame around my story. I have felt kicked out of the club, the group, different than, other than. It’s just the reality of the deal. When you experience something that is very different from those around you, it’s hard to feel seen and understood.
And there are layers to what we experience. It’s not just that we go through an ugly divorce (for example), it’s that now our social structures have changed, friendships change and in a world where socially it’s all couples, it’s easy to feel cast aside, not good enough, a failure in some way.
Or when your child dies, you feel like a failure because you couldn’t save him. You asked so many people to pray and she still died. What did you do wrong? How do you navigate friendships when your friends haven’t experienced the same? A million questions arise about worth and if we are loved or not. These are all natural and necessary questions to ask.
About two years after Ethan died, Bodey was born. I had anticipated this “healing” rainbow baby (a term used for the sibling born after one has died). I’d seen countless posts from mothers who talked about this ‘rainbow’ child bringing healing and joy to their family. Never to replace, but to resume some normalcy and a little person to care for and love after tremendous tragedy.
Bodey came to this world with a rare muscular dystrophy. Next Sunday is his fourth birthday so I’ll share with you a bit more about him then. But suffice it to say, all I could think was:
“How could you do this to me (God)?”
“What have I done so wrong to deserve this?”
This was perhaps the final push to my already teetering faith.
I will never forget sitting in a room while a pediatric neurologist explained an initial scan of Bodey’s brain. I looked over at Erik who was visibly pale and sweating. We were barely two years from Ethan’s death and now this. I wanted to hide in hopes it would go away. In the days that followed, I felt my self confidence at an all time low. How was I going to explain this to my family and friends? Most of them could barely handle Ethan’s story let alone this new unfolding one. Not only did my kid die, but now I couldn’t even relate to all the moms who had their ‘rainbow’ baby that brought them such healing. I felt like I was living on an island.
If you are in the midst of one of these places, I see you. I am with you. I know the confusion, the anger, the bewilderment. In this space you might feel like you want to crawl out of your own skin. That is okay and oh so normal. But you are not called to stay here, you are called to grow through this and to create beauty because of it. I know, perhaps the last thing you want me to tell you this morning.
When we feel this way it’s so easy to look down. Literally and figuratively. To look at the ground, afraid to look up and see how others will react, or what they say or even worse to see the pity in their eyes. We look down because we feel badly about ourselves, our place in this world. We wonder if people will want to know us, to get in the grittiness with us (again). Just plain be our friends. We wonder how we will rise again, or come to a place of peace. These are the difficult questions that suffering asks us to wrestle with. And frankly it asks those around us to wrestle with the the same, though they often miss the call.
Each one of you are called to look up. To forgo the gaze down, for a gaze up. To make a statement to yourself that you will not be pushed down by what has happened to you, but instead you will muster up the strength to look up, to receive and to grow. This is a tall order and it does not happen by itself. It takes tremendous work, searching, reading and prayer. For me it is a continuous journey. A continuous quest. Looking up comes a bit easier than it used to, but it is never effortless.
So here is your invitation. I want to invite you this Sunday to look up. If you have been looking down, wading in grief and sadness, in self hatred, in a fog of gray. This is for you.
I promise that in and through this thing, this space, this unwanted place you now inhabit, there are gifts. I am personally committed and called to help women (and men too) look up.
Don’t look down any longer. Not is shame, or guilt or comparision. Not in despair or hopelessness.
Receive this life, all the parts, all the sadness, all the pain, all the shame. And then listen to what you are being called. Can you hear it? What is this heartache inviting you to become, to see, to hear, to love, to transform, to lead, to change, to grow, to give, to be?
And if you can, say one yes, and then another, and then another. Until you can say one big YES to the life you’ve been invited to. The one that has been given just to you.
No, it’s never going to be perfect (no one’s life is) and your friends might not be banging down your door for it, but you will make it beautiful. You will make it signature you. Full of all the “youness” that it’s designed for.
And when you do. Raise your hands, call out to this world, and say THIS IS ME! I accept this invitation and I’m going to make this one life beautiful!
You are invited to come home to yourself
To your light
To your courage
To your purpose
To your deepest self
To the part of your that knows exactly why you are here.
That connects you to clarity and healing.
To a God that loves you deeply and has called you by name.
You are invited to see anew.
To love with an open heart.
To create change in this world.
You are invited to fullness + abundance. You are invited to walk through your pain, your sadness,
your regret, your what if’s, into an open space.
You are invited to know LOVE.
To relish in it.
To feel it.
And to know that is God living in you, holding you, guiding you.
Even when you can’t feel it.
My hope and prayer is that you feel loved, feel hope and feel called by my words. If I could, would gather you all together and speak these words of life each and every one of you.
Sunday Love to you.
P.S None of this happens quickly. You have to commit to continuous growth and healing. I believe healing is a spiritual experience. I will write more about that soon.