God Over Night…

happens over a lifetime

Archive for the category “Light bulbs from Jesus”

Broken but not a Coward.

Not long ago Chester Bennington committed suicide. The internet exploded with comments, prayers for his family, and even some judgements on his life. As I read through comment after comment one struck me more than any – some had branded him a coward. Yes, a coward. As that blanket statement infiltrated its way through my mind I had to ask myself, “Was Chester a coward? And if so, did that make my brother a coward, too?”

I wrestled greatly with this question. It was hard to even sleep some nights.

But, God gently reminded me of what I already knew. He even used my own words to do so. Below is a post I wrote not long after my brother took his own life. It also humbly reminded me to not place sweeping statements, or brand someone as this or that, without first truly knowing them. To define someone by an act of brokenness is a sad mistake. To define or label someone whom you’ve never walked life with is truly a horrible thing.

Ten Minutes In Life.
I was reminded today as I drove out to see my brother’s grave of things that I had forgotten. Maybe forgotten is the wrong word. I was confronted with tiny particles of life that I had pushed to the back of mind and disregard as valuable. My mind became a movie screen as I let the film play of all that I hold dear, of all the people who I love, of those moments that, at the time, seemed life-shattering to me. Soon though, the pictures focused revealed images I have gazed upon many times before, yet they seem entirely new to me; as if I’ve never been in that moment. Nothing had changed, yet, everything had changed.

Standing in front of his grave today I couldn’t fight the tears. I placed the orange, yellow, and white blossomed plant that I bought for him next to his headstone. I looked down at the ground that almost looks like cement and I let my mind wander. Naturally, my mind went to my mom. I thought of her sadness, her longing to be with her son again, of her need to feel like she made things better for him. We had a talk not that long ago, one that will stay with me forever. My mom’s voice was strained, and I could hear countless sleepless nights as she asked her weary question. We had been talking about being saved. We spoke of how Allen had come to know the Lord – which had just been a few months before he took his own life. My mom was worried, the echos of doubt concerning his salvation the elephant between us. Not because of a God that couldn’t save; but, because of her. My mom was consumed with guilt. She worried and fretted that she hadn’t gotten to Allen in time. A deep-rooted fear filled her, and I knew that she carried the weight of the world on her shoulders. She was crushed by the thoughts that she could have, somehow, saved my brother.

I know my answer was lacking. It’s hard to explain to someone who needs that sense of control over a situation – that you have no control. There isn’t an “if I got to him in time.” I will forever remember the sound of her crying as I said to her that Allen had always been saved. He had always been a child of God, long before he realized it. My mom didn’t need to worry that my brother’s death had some how caught God off guard. Allen’s salvation did not rest upon her shoulders. After all, how many of our sins, yours and mine, were future sins when Jesus died on the cross? The answer is – all of them.

I know that people think that my brother’s life was tragic. He made some horrible choices in his brokenness. Satan took hold of his hand and he was hard pressed to let go. But, to me, that is what makes my brother’s life so beautiful; that God could see the person my brother was and draw him near anyways. The beautiful person inside that was full of laughter and love; the person he was without Satan’s grip. I find victory in my brother’s death. I haven’t always seen it, but I know through all of that darkness His light reached in a saved Allen. And that is beautiful; it’s beyond words. Allen’s past mistakes do not define him. His suicide was ten minutes of his life. That’s it. Ten minutes out of twenty-nine years of living. If you add up the sum of all of our mistakes, it doesn’t weigh more than the blood that Christ spilled for us.

I think the thing that I hope for the most is this: That he isn’t defined by this one tragic moment in his life. I hope that when the  sum of all of Allen’s minutes are gathered that those ten aren’t at the top, instead I hope that the sum will messured as him being a child of God. I hope that others will see his life as beautiful, the way that God saw it. Nothing is more beautiful than seeing the glory of God being able to reach where no one else could – because we are not meant to carry that weight. I hope that Allen’s last ten minutes in life don’t become the remaining amount of who he is in the sight of God.

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A letter to my daughter’s boyfriend

To my daughter’s boyfriend,

I’m about to say the thing that I’m not supposed to say. You see, as a parent who dearly loves her children, I’m expected to say that I don’t think you’re good enough for my daughter. I’m supposed peer down my nose at you and postulate that you only have bad intentions for her. I’m supposed to make you feel that you’ve somehow won the lottery because you have her favor. Society encourages me to put my hands on my hips and wag my finger, saying how much of a privilege dating my daughter is. However, I’m not going to tell you those things. Instead, I’m going to say the thing that I’m not supposed to say: you are good enough for my daughter; in fact, I don’t just believe it – I know it.

I say this because you are created in God’s own image. You, sir, have inherent worth.

I’m not saying that the path you choose will be the right way for her too. I’m not going to pretend that your actions will always be honorable; you are, after all, human. There might even be a time that I come to dislike you. But, please know, my dislike will not be because of your lack of worth; it will because I know your worth and I know that you can be more.

I hope that when you come to our home, you feel welcomed and invited. I hope that we make you feel like you belong. When you approach our door and raise your hand to knock, I pray that you feel like you’re knocking on your own family’s door; the crazy side for sure, but family all the same.

As I say these things to you – I need for you to understand a few things about her. Yes, she’s gorgeous! Yes, she’s talented! Yes, she’s amazing! However, she is not perfect – please do not tell her that she is. If you do, you will add so much pressure for her to stay a certain way; disallow growth as a person, and stifling lessons that come from making mistakes. Please know that she will let you down. There will be times when she may act selfish or moody…and maybe even a bit bratty. As her mother, I can guarantee those times will happen, but I ask you to remember: in as many ways as you are human – so she will be as well.

I hope that you keep in mind that we, her parents, are just as human; mistakes will be made along the way. While I’m not sure where your relationship with her will lead – I hope that no matter the outcome, no matter where your journey leads, when you think back to this time, you smile.

 

Sincerely,

The Parents

An Open Letter To My Daughters

To my daughters

Yesterday a million women marched for “Women’s Rights.” The streets of Washington overflowed with a kaleidoscope of colorful signs. The air was thick with the noise of protest – of the sound of so-called “change.” As a woman, I can see the alluring energy a march like this might hold for you. Who doesn’t want to be a part of something bigger than themselves? Who doesn’t want to be a part of history in the making?

It’s easy to look at these women, some of whom I’ve heard you sing along with in the car, and be caught up in the glitz and the glamor.
Yesterday a march was held, but today you will be asked to make a choice. These women will try to sway you; they will say that your value as a person, as a daughter, as a woman in the making hangs in the balance. And they’ll be right. The women you choose to look up to today shapes the woman you become tomorrow. Because of this, I ask you to see past the glitter, hear beyond the loud voices, and feel more than surface deep. All that glitters is not gold.

This world will tell you that your identity is your sexuality. This world will tell you that to hold values and morals is restrictive. They will bait you with the lie that feminist power is the freedom to speak with vulgarity and dress provocatively. They will teach you that being promiscuous is a virtue. They will tell you that your worth was based wholly on the convenience of another. I’m here, as your mother, to tell you they’re wrong.

Your identity is beyond whom you choose to engage sexually with. There are so many facets to your being, that to base who you are solely on a small fraction of your personhood – is to place restrictions upon yourself.

Feminist power does not come from your breast hanging out, or your vagina on display; feminist power comes from knowing your worth. You teach people how to treat you, but how you teach them is the most important aspect of respect. Respect my dear one isn’t given – it’s earned.
Feminist power is your ability to speak life into another woman, to speak life into the world, to build hope and a future for others. Feminist power is not found in your freedom to display every inch of your body to the public while demanding that others keep their eyes on your face.
Sadly, many women of today have taken what used to be a powerful message, voiced aloud by courageous women, and have turned it into
a watered down, worthless, and demeaning demand of “entitlement” – and labeled it “Women’s Rights.”

Did you know that:

Marissa Mayer graduated from Standford with fourteen job offers, including a teaching position at Carnegie Mellon Univerisity? She accepted a job at Google where she became the company’s first female engineer. In 2012 Mayer became the CEO of Yahoo!

Ursula M. Burns was raised by a single mother in the housing projects of New York City. She started at Xerox as an intern, worked her way up the ladder to become the first African-American woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

Malala Yousafzai is a champion of female education in Pakistan. She survived an attempt on her life by a gunman who fired three shots at her. One bullet entered the left side of her forehead ultimately lodging itself inside her shoulder. She is the youngest recipient of the Noble Peace Prize.

J.K. Rowling took her love of writing and turned her stories about a young wizard into one of the best-selling novel series of all time.

Ann Marie “Ree” Drummond took her passion for food and became an award-winning blogger. She is a New York Times best-selling author, photographer, and television star who lives on a ranch in Oklahoma. She inspires women each day with her wit and passion for her family.

There are so many more women that I could name who used their intelligence, poise, strength, and drive to make a difference in our world -(some of them are just your average stay at home moms!)

These women are not perfect – no one is. But, the thing that I hope you see is that all of these women live in the same broken world we do; however, they saw an opportunity for change and seized it. And not one of them had to wear a vagina hat strapped to their head, or promise oral sex to do so.

I believe in you – you’ve got this.

I love you,
Mom

Just Another Winter Day in January – A Letter to My Brother

allen-copy-2

Two thousand and sixteen is the year I once desperately wished for; I practically willed myself to be here. Five years ago I sat in my house crying after watching not only my brother but my friend Sonya being placed into the ground mere weeks apart. It was then that I plucked some abstract date from the air and clung to it for comfort. This year was supposed to be the “miracle year” – it held, in my state of loss and despair, hope. I sat in my living room and imagined myself on a day in 2016 far removed from heartache.

Sometimes I feel my heart is breaking
But I stay strong, and I hold on cause I know

I will see you again, whoa
This is not where it ends
I will carry you with me, yeah, yeah

Time has taught me many lessons since that cold January day in 2011. One being that pain and loss are a lot like laundry. You can do your best to wash your clothes; you can do your best to get them pearl white; however, there will always be tiny pieces of the past that embed themselves within the fabric; naked to the eye but now a permanent part of the material. The pain of losing my brother still lingers five years later; as it turns out, 2016 held no special powers; while everything is different without him, somehow life is still the same as it was on that winter day in January when I clung to the hope of the future. I’ve also learned that there isn’t a magical earthly date when the pain of loss disappears entirely. I think this is because only the Lord can truly wash clean the pain of yesteryears and that doesn’t happen this side of Glory.

So to you my brother, my first friend, I say: ‘Till I see you again.

Til I see you again, whoa
‘Til I see you again,

Said goodbye turned around
And you were gone, gone, gone.

 See You Again lyrics were written by Underwood, Hillary Lindsey, and David Hodges.

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