My heart has been broken. Into too many pieces to count. I thought I would never live to see the day where I could say it was mended. The process was painful, the result nothing short of miraculous. My broken heart is and forever will be beautifully mended.
So for many of you out there, I know you struggle with this day called Halloween. As a faith filled mother with young children I too am at odds with this day. In some ways, the pumpkins and the G-rated friendly black cats and cute little kids in costume make Halloween a fun family oriented day. Yet on the other end of the spectrum are the ghoulish looking houses that are dec'd to the brim with skeletons escaping from the ground to bloodied vampires hanging from the roof.
So...as a Christian family - what do you do?
Do we point a crooked finger in disgust at these devilish decorations, turn our lights off and ignore it all together? Or do we embrace the fun of the day and smile at the sweet little children coming door to door? Do we ignore the evil and try to solely focus on the good? These questions have been swirling around my mind as I try to gain perspective on this day.
For what it's worth, here's my take.
Even though this day is often used as a day to celebrate FEAR and death, we take this day (and really every day) and try our best to redeem it for Christ. We celebrate His victory over death and celebrate the HOPE of eternal life. We carve pumpkins and explain to the children that we are like a pumpkin in the sense that we are but a shell. Inside of us, we all have 'guck' and when we invite Jesus into our lives He comes and cleans us from the inside out. He then lights our heart on fire and the Holy Spirit shines through us, just as the candle shines through the pumpkin. So when we are out at night and see the glow of jack-o-lanterns, we can relate back to Christ shining in and through us. We have some years handed out candy, blessing the children of our neighborhood with God's love through a smile, encouraging word and lollipops. We have also attended Harvest Parties at local churches for some good ol' family fun and bonding. Good can be found and had on this day, contrary to popular opinion.
As for the scary graveyard and demonic looking inspired homes, we say to the children that even though these homes celebrate death, we as a family celebrate life. We have worked hard to make Gracie's grave a place of peace. Our children would have never thought of a graveyard as a scary place until seeing the front yard of a house decorated as a haunted grave-yard. We celebrate that Grace is now with Jesus, alive and healed! The grave is not a haunted place, it is just a special place on earth where we can go and remember our Gracie. Our kids run and play and giggle at Gracie's grave! They will at times shed a tear of remembrance, but mainly they just love running through the beautifully manicured lawns and throw pennies in the pretty fountain. We don't celebrate Gracie's death at her grave, no! We celebrate her life here on earth and her true life in heaven! As a family we are bent on celebrating hope and life, yes even on this day of fear and death for Christ is bigger!!! Christ has risen, He is stronger than fear, ghoulish ghosts, and death. After-all, He leaves no room for fear for He has defeated it all! So as Christians we do not need to fear Halloween or even fear itself for we hold the Hand of the One who holds the keys to life and death!
You are stronger, You are stronger
Sin is broken, You have saved me
It is written, Christ is risen
Jesus You are Lord of all
Hillsongs - Stronger
Oh the weather has been incredible lately. Thunder showers followed by breath-taking rainbows...and even double rainbows (what does it mean LOL)? These beautiful rainbows in the sky always remind me of hope. Such gorgeous colours spring forth only after the dark thunderous clouds and rain finally relent to the glorious light of the sun. I have been chatting with a few of my dear friends who have found themselves in such dark, stormy places they never thought they would be in. Each circumstance differs greatly from the next, yet a common thread of sorrow, pain and grief unilaterally abounds. When we find ourselves in the thick of such pain, entrenched in thorns and suffocating in vines of sorrow, we long for reprieve. When watching a loved one in such a place of suffering we long to help. Yet, too often a well-meaning individual will try to stick on a platitude to somehow bind up the unwrappable feelings of grief and loss. A friend of mine shared an intersting article with me today on 'Vulnerablity and Christianese' (http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/christianese-vulnerability ) and how these petty little blanket statements such as "God will not give you more than you can handle" infuriate an already stressed out soul. Although most of these trite comments do come from a place of good intention, what a wounded soul needs is simply the raw, honest truth with a snippet of hope. I know it sounds crazy, but too much 'happy' talk ie. "all things will work together for good" can, at times, diminish one's current pain. For example, I know that Gracie is 'in a better place,' but sometimes that just makes me feel guilty for wishing that place was here. When someone is given the ground-shattering news such as ' the cancer has returned' or that there is 'nothing more than can be done', we must be quick to hold our tongues and extend a loving hand. There is an unbelievable urge for us to 'fix' things, but there are some things that just can't be fixed. There are times in this life that just don't make sense and sometimes...life is just simply unfair.
During our season of Grace, many friends were there for us, some respectfully gave us space, and others were bold enough to ask what they could do or say to help. As life continues to trickle on as quickly as the proverbial sand through the hour glass, friends continue to ask me, "what do I say to someone whose world has just crumbled beneath them?" If you are in this place today, whether you are the one in the valley or whether your heart is breaking for a loved one who is, here is a quote that I have found helpful and that I love. I hope it helps shine a light in the midst of the valley, if not for you, then for someone near you who is in the fight of his/her life.
WANTED: A GRIEF HELPER
Father Joe Mahoney
A strong, deep person, wise enough to allow me to grieve in the depth of who I am, and strong enough to hear my pain without turning away.
Not too close, because then you couldn't help me to see. Not too objective, because then you might not care. Not too aloof, because then you couldn't hug me. Not too caring, because then I'd be tempted to let you live my life for me.
I need someone who believes that the sun will rise again, but who does not fear my darkness, or my walk through the night;
Someone who can point out the rocks in my way without making me a child by carrying me;
Someone who can stand in thunder and watch the lightning, and believe in a rainbow.