By Jennifer Davis Rash
Mother’s Day and Father’s Day weren’t nearly as hard as we had anticipated. They were a little sad last year, but I think Aug. 1 was still harder. That was the due date. As Aug. 1 approached this year, my mind wondered what it would be like to have a 1-year-old right now.
I laughed and cried almost simultaneously — laughed at the image of myself attempting to juggle life as a working mother; cried realizing the loss of a precious life that was miscarried before we knew whether it was a boy or girl.
It all seems surreal to me now. In some ways it is as if I merely dreamed all of it.
Watching the positive symbol appear for the first time — as well as three more times just to be sure — took my husband, Jason, and me by surprise, but once we snapped out of our initial stupor a permanent smile clung to our faces. At least for a little while.
We were about six weeks pregnant when we found out. We got to be pregnant another six weeks before things started going wrong. A week later, we grieved our loss.
That was a year and a half ago. I’ve managed to compartmentalize most of the memories, but the dates on the calendar always scream at me.
And I’m not alone. It is estimated that at least 1 in 5 women have or will have at least one miscarriage. It may be rarely mentioned, but they notice when the anniversary dates come around.
And it goes beyond miscarriages. All losses seem to be magnified on special calendar dates. Children, spouses, parents, siblings, friends, grandparents, anyone who was special in our life — their birthdays, the day of the accident, when the test results came back, the day they died, the funeral. Those days peel back the layers and expose the rawness of our emotions, and we can expect to be more sensitive on those days.
Knowing that going in can help us show grace — grace to ourselves when it is our turn to be there and grace to others when it is their turn.
The only problem is we don’t always know when others are walking through painful seasons. How many broken hearts float by us each day silently struggling to get through the next moment? And how many times are we insensitive by our actions, words or both?
Certainly if we don’t know, then we don’t know, but it’s a good practice to treat everyone with love, kindness and respect at all times because we never know who is going through what. And so many times a person’s actions or reactions may truly be because of the pain he or she has tucked down deep and not because of what is happening on the surface.
If we have an existing relationship with the person who is acting out of character or if we are the one acting out of character, then the easy solution is to talk about what is going on and work through it.
It’s a bit harder when the situation involves people whose paths cross randomly — checkout lane at the grocery store, customer service representative on the phone, reader upset by article you’ve written (yeah, it’s true — I’ve actually made a reader or two mad once or twice).
I don’t always remember to assume something deeper might be happening with a person who is reacting harshly. But when these experiences come, we always have a choice of how to respond.
Tears welled up in one sales clerk’s eyes when I asked if he was OK after he verbally berated me for asking a simple question. I expressed concern. He talked. I listened. He thanked me for calling him out on his attitude and doing it kindly.
How can I be comforted if my prodigal hasn’t come home?
By Rita Moritz
Excerpts from her blog at www.preciousprodigal.com
Anyone who has ever loved a prodigal knows what it’s like to be devastated by the behavior of the prodigal. I’m not sure there’s a loss so complete or overwhelming as watching the hopes and dreams we have for our loved ones burn up before our eyes.
I’ve seen parents and spouses in so much emotional pain, I could almost reach out and touch it — it was that tangible. And I’ve experienced that kind of loss myself — the kind that is so huge, it almost takes on a life of its own. I don’t know that it would compare with losing a child, but the agonizing losses we have known make me think we can probably imagine how Jacob must have felt. No wonder Genesis 37:34 says he “mourned for his son many days.”
But there’s something else we can learn from Jacob’s grief. His other sons and his daughters suited up and showed up. They reached out to him, but he “refused to be comforted.” … He loved Joseph, and his heart was broken at this terrible loss. But Jacob still had a houseful of children who loved him, who needed him, who wanted to be with him and comfort him. And Jacob either couldn’t or wouldn’t see it. His conclusion was that he could find no joy or comfort unless he had Joseph. He was wrong.
Sometimes the prodigal uses up so much of our energy that we don’t spend time with or enjoy our other kids or family members. How reasonable is that? Oh, I know the one who is acting out may need to be our focus part of the time. But all the time? If he is, it’s certainly not fair to the other kids, who are trying their best to do the right thing. It’s not fair to the spouse who has stood faithfully by our side. And it’s not fair to us.
I’m not saying your pain isn’t real. I know very well that it is. But it’s only a part of your life, not the whole. God’s plan for your life is that you will find joy; it is your “portion under the sun” (Eccles. 9:9). However, you’re not going to find that joy, I’m not going to find that joy if we’re banging our sippy cups on our high chairs and refusing to be comforted unless the prodigal comes home. There’s much more to your life than just that. But you won’t see it, you won’t enjoy it, you won’t embrace it if you refuse to be comforted.
Challenge For Today: Can you, just for today, find comfort and joy in the people who love you and in the other parts of your life regardless of what your prodigal does?
Compassion is a choice just as being unkind is a choice. Here are some ways to cultivate greater compassion and, through it, make your world a kinder, gentler place.
- Live out the Golden Rule. This compassion principle is taught by Jesus: “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matt. 7:12).
- Overcome hindrances. Sometimes compassion is blocked because we are angry or because we don’t understand or because we don’t see the larger picture. Try to recognize a hindrance and understand it as an emotional weakness, which creates negativity in you. Then overcome it. This is what the Bible refers to as being “transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Rom. 12:2).
- Respond readily. When you see a need, when you see an opportunity to help, respond readily. Compassion delayed is compassion denied.
- Hold back judging. Try to view people and situations without coming to a conclusion or reaching a judgment. Apply the teaching of Jesus to “judge not” (Matt. 7:1).
- Go beyond the minimal. This concept of compassion is sometimes referred to as “going the second mile,” a teaching of Jesus found in Matthew 5:42.
- Expand compassion to all creatures. Be certain that your compassion is not limited only to other people but expands and embraces all creatures.
Victor M. Parachin
Pastor and author
Disappointments are always opportunities to know and trust God in a deeper way.
A life lived on purpose is never boring.
Pastor Bill Wilks
NorthPark Baptist Church, Trussville
With each morning sunrise
I am choosing
The sweeter side of life.
Being careful what I say
Thinking of others as I pray.
I am choosing to slow down
Treasuring the gift of time
Pausing to laugh and play.
I am choosing to see
The goodness in others
To forgive and cheer.
I am choosing to listen
To the Holy Spirit
Who shapes my heart.
I am choosing LOVE.
Lake View, Ala.
Congrats to the WINGS ministry at Canaan Baptist Church, Bessemer, for the recent Tablescapes event.
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