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Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. -Romans 12:15

 

We must be willing to feel the heart beat of other's in our chest. This is what love does. (1)

 

One wedding and two suicides. From celebration to lamentation. From dancing in the sunset to mourning alongside two of my dearest childhood friends as they grieve the senseless loss of their young men living—and then dying—on the edge of manhood.

I long to ease the ache in the hearts of these dear ones; to smooth the hard edges of the emptiness that once was filled by the laughter of young men. Soul soothing words fail to trip off my tongue and I stumble in my awkward attempts to offer comfort and hope.

While I’ve experienced the pain of death separating me from another, I haven’t lost a child to the nightmarish reality of suicide. This grief? It’s consuming—like a fire threatening to devour everyone in its path.

And in our pull-yourself-up from the bootstraps culture where grief is an inconvenience and lament is looked on with suspicion, I’m suggesting something radical.

Let’s step into lament. Let’s join those we know who are hurting. Let’s choose to walk willingly into the fiery furnace just as Christ did when three of his children were tossed like kindling into a human-sized oven.

People are lamenting everywhere around us. The woman just up the street whose husband has left her with three children and a cancer diagnosis. The forty-seven-year old mother of teenagers fearing the worst as her husband struggles to survive the aftermath of a stroke. The young couple aching to hold a baby in empty arms after yet another miscarriage.

Grief is uncomfortable. Stepping into another’s pain is painful. Yet, if we are to love like Jesus we must be willing to feel the heartbeat of others in our chest. We are meant to join others as they walk through the fire. That’s what love does.

Who are you going to love today?

 

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My heart is pounding in my chest. It’s a thrumming, I guess. The rhythm that tells me something is wrong. Something (or someone) is anxious. The thin film of moisture coats the sides of my eyes, but I blink and blink, not letting it loose.

I don’t wanna. A two year old lives inside me, and she does not want to do the next thing. The next thing is hard and painful. She’d rather grab her favorite toy and play in the closet among her mom’s shoes, hiding from the world.

I try to talk the two year old down. You can do this. It’s only this one time. Or It will be over before you know it. Or even, you can have a treat when it’s all done!

See? Two. I told you.

But those pep talks don’t always work. Sometimes, on the lighter things, they do. But when it’s heavy and hard and nothing like what I expected, I’d much rather just…not. I wonder if I can tell God politely that I’d rather not do this next thing. And maybe if my voice is extra sweet and my demeanor uber-gracious, he’ll grant me this wish like a fairy godmother waving her wand. Only God’s staff is so much more powerful and wonderful than that.

I had a college professor who often talked about the phrase, “I prefer not”. He would tell us it was okay to use this phrase in life, and I want to cash it in right now. I prefer not. I change the words a little, thinking God’s ear will lean in my direction.

But there’s still no relief. The prefer nots and I don’t wannas and rather nots aren’t working. God is silent. Or perhaps no answer is the real answer. Because I already know what to do. What he wants me to do. I’m just avoiding it.

There’s no out. The next thing is the next thing I need to do. I’ll tell you a secret that I doubt will surprise you: I still don’t wanna.

But I hafta. And then I finally think to ask God. God, can you quiet this upset within my spirit? This fear and trepidation over the next thing? Help me to want to. Or at least give me grace while I don’t want to and I do it anyway. Because you’re asking. And I’m yours. Which means you are mine too. All of your goodness and your grace and your patience and your power—they’re here to equip me to do the next thing.

And then I remember that I won’t do the next thing alone. I always do that—jump ahead and imagine it without God in it. But then I remember he’s here now and he’ll be there then. That looming feeling of being alone and tired and just unable to do it is a lie. Because he’s there with me in that future of the next thing. And he has power and strength that I can’t even comprehend. And comfort. I’ll take some of that too.

Okay, God, let’s do the next thing together.

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Jill Lynn Buteyn is a co-author of Just Show Upwith Kara Tippetts, and the author of the inspirational romance novel, Falling for Texas (as Jill Lynn). A recipient of the ACFW Genesis award for her fiction work, she has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Bethel University. Jill lives near the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her husband and two children. Connect with her on social media or at Jill-Lynn.com.
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Jill Lynn Buteyn
I wrote a book about cancer and friendship with Kara Tippetts. I also write small-town happily ever afters.
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Jill Lynn Buteyn. Author of Falling for Texas and Just Show Up with Kara Tippetts. Organizationally challenged. Thrifty mama. Bookworm.
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Love each otherLife seemed to take a wrong turn when her younger brother was diagnosed with cancer. Together, they relocated to Manhattan where some of the best treatments were available–far from the slower-paced, small town in Colorado. Physically distanced from family and friends and immersed in a world of sterile hospital rooms and uncompromising statistics, loneliness became an cloying companion.

Unwilling to foster an ongoing relationship with isolation, a determined                   twenty-something dialed the suicide hotline. She told the soothing voice on the other end of the line about her desperation. She spoke of a sense of worthlessness. Then, she explained the reason for the call.

Ready to break the chains of loneliness, Daniel Hernandez offered to step away from her own pain by embracing the stories belonging to others. For two years, Daniel volunteered as a voice of comfort and encouragement to the desperate and disillusioned, the hurting and the hopeless.

Is it possible loneliness is your unsolicited sidekick, as well? Does isolation invade the space of healthy relationship in your life ? Are you, perhaps, even coddling loneliness because of its familiarity? Or, when you look at others with the eyes of Christ do you notice the lonely ones? They are everywhere–hoping someone will take a moment to smile…engage…love like Jesus.

Today, I’m issuing a challenge. Friend, whether you are lonely or not–will you allow your struggle in the now to motivate you toward investing in someone’s tomorrow? You don’t need to be the voice on one end of a hotline to make a difference. Just take one simple step–invite a neighbor for coffee, ring up an old friend, plan a date night with your husband.

Let’s break the chains of loneliness.

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From crowded rooms to solitary hide-a-ways, loneliness exists outside the boundaries of place or circumstance. It invades the space of married couples…singles…young and old. And, loneliness? It has the power to drive us toward relationship or introduce lies into the vulnerable places of our hearts.

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If we aren’t intentional our in loneliness, we can be taken captive–seduced into believing that we are utterly alone. Have you been there, Friend? Has this lie lodged itself into the corners of your heart?

Perhaps it was birthed in the ruins of a fractured relationship or marriage. Maybe the pain of untruth took root when your prayers seemed to go unanswered. Is it possible you even feel you deserve loneliness—that your internal ache for something more stems from just being you?

Daughter of Christ, if you are hard-worn by loneliness right now, remember–there is Someone who is always with you. He knew you from your beginning. He knows the day of your last breath. And, He walks with you each step between now and forever.

This is the truth in which we can intentionally rest.

And, for those who know the lonely one? We can pray…love…and–with intentionality–remind her of Christ’s steadfast commitment to His children.

Won’t you join me today by reaching out to someone burdened by loneliness? Share your story with us.

Scripture for Reflection

I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you! I will not leave you orphaned. (John 14:16-18 MSG)

 

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