I started this day with a funeral.  I ended this day with a birthday party. For two of most solid guys you will ever meet.  If you would have told me 3 weeks ago that on the same day we would be celebrating one’s birthday and burying the other, I would have thought you were crazy or rather, would have hoped you were just crazy.

We live, we dance, we sing, we celebrate, we love, we die.  But most of all, we are faithful.  Faithful to the God who can be trusted.

I remember growing up and our biggest family fights were in the car on the way to church.  You can look at that statement and think to yourself, “Oh, Christians, what hypocrites.  Fighting on the way to church! How ridiculous!” but actually, there’s a different way of looking at that.

My family, like yours, has had some arguments.  In the car.  On our way somewhere.  BUT (And here’s the clincher) we kept going.  We didn’t turn around.  We were/are dysfunctional and we know it!  We know where we belong.  We keep running forward.  Running to the presence of the only One with the answer:  Jesus.  Everyone fights but not everyone keeps moving forward, keeps going to the Healer, keeps pressing on.

That is how we do it.

A dear friend of mine died on September 26.  As I was ironing my black clothes for his funeral, I started sobbing and hitting the ironing board.  As I was cutting the brownies, I was to take to his funeral (The last thing I ever cooked for him), I started crying again.  “God, I don’t understand! God, why Kevin?  God, why now?  This isn’t fair.  This isn’t cool.”  Yes, I grieve.  BUT those questions I ask, those confusing thoughts, those overwhelming feelings aren’t being thrown to the wall–they are being thrown to God.  This is how I do it.  I cry.  I get angry.  I get confused.  But I don’t do it alone.  I run to the Healer. I take it to God.  I take it to the foot of the cross.

WHERE ELSE WOULD WE GO?  Turn my back on God and start going to bars?  Are you kidding?  Only Jesus has the words of life!  I ask questions but it’s how I keep the communication lines open with the God who knows me inside and out.  I can feel the anger/confusion/shock now or I can feel it later when I have a husband and 5 kids who are wondering why their mom is angry and no one can figure it out because it’s about something that happened 10 years before.

I’m going to feel emotions and I am going to feel them good.  Have you ever read Psalms?  Written by a man who had a lot of emotions, a lot of trials, a lot of pain-He would say things (Things you would raise your eyebrows at and say, “uh, you can say that and still be considered someone who is a ‘man after God’s own heart'”?) but he would always conclude with the goodness of God and his faith in the One who can see the big picture.

Personally, I think it’s okay to ask questions.  Faith isn’t about denial.  It’s about embracing.  Embracing the God who is going to carry you through the pain, through the confusion, through the numbness, through the tears—(And because He takes us ‘out’ in order to take us ‘in’) into Joy, Peace, Hope, and stronger Faith.

I’ve posted before about when I had the chicken pox at age 21 and the complete and total despondency I had and anger towards God  and though I didn’t want to pray/read my Bible, I was still talking to God, telling Him I didn’t want to pray.  Ironic isn’t it?  Telling God how much you don’t want to pray because you aren’t very happy right now that your entire body is covered in crusty, draining sores?  He was probably smiling (not because of my pain) but because “Rhonda, you are praying! You are telling me how much you don’t want to pray or read your Bible because you are feeling sick and you’re kind of mad at me right now for allowing this but we are getting closer and you don’t even know it!”

So, when I am overcome with emotion, I know where to take it.  When I am sad, angry, frustrated, irritated, anxious, overwhelmed, exhausted, guilty, hysterical, disgusted, frightened, enraged, ashamed, depressed, lonely, jealous, surprised, shocked and going crazy—-I run to the only One who can handle it.  When I am hiccuping, with blood vessels in my eyelids breaking because I am crying so hard, trying to catch my breath…I cry out.  I cry out to Jesus.

Some take their pain to the massage therapist.  Some to the bar.  Some to the mall.  Some to the casino.  Some to restaurants.  Some to video games.  Some to heroin.  Some to work.  Some to the batting cages.  Some to soap operas.  Some to concerts.  Some just get bitter. Some get grouchy.  Some get hard.  Some get mean.

I don’t want to be bitter.  I don’t want to be grouchy, hard, or mean.

And so, when others run to the world with their pain, their confusion, their emotions, I run too.  I just run somewhere different.  I run to Jesus.

This is how we do it.  This is how we grieve.  This is how we process our overwhelming thoughts.  We stay faithful to the only One who sees everything.  We fight in the car but we still go to church.  We punch the ironing board but we still get up, we still invite our grieving friends over for dinner, we spend 13 hours with them the day of the funeral, we put on our make-up but not our masks.

We don’t run from pain.

We run with it, to the Healer.

This is how we do it.