What do you say when true things are hard things… when what should be said is untrue or unflattering? What do you say when lies wouldn’t even comfort? I landed on the Gospel. You just say “Jesus.” Jesus in it all. Jesus over it all. Sometimes the Gospel is the only good news.
What was the only comfort or source of hope or joy on the day Mimi the Great was buried? That way, way back in her hard life she trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior. I believe and I know others in my family would agree, she was a convert but not a disciple. Her growth had been stunted by tragedies, traditions, and traumas. Rather than let the Lord in to heal, callouses formed instead.
Hardening of hands, hardening of habits… can lead to hardening of the heart. The only thing that separates any of us from being the walking wounded, turned walking wounders? Grace. Grace alone.
There is no need to dwell on what man has done or can do. There is no life or light to be found there. But what Jesus does through man and our brokenness? That’s a horse of a different color. The hard lessons my mom learned in hard ways could have easily perpetuated another generation of addiction, obsession, and death. But the blood of Christ was applied over it all, redeeming it all for His glory and her good. And then my good. And then my kid’s good… and now your good.
One generation’s trauma can be the next generation’s tools… if Jesus is invited into their midst. I wish I could tell you my grandparents discipled my mother in the ways and words of God, but they didn’t. Which is not to say it wasn’t done, the Holy Spirit does that personally for the orphans and He would have for widows too.
God’s gracious, redemption ministry to us is not hindered by Hell, highwater, or hard things. He uses ALL OF IT.
The things absent to my mother in her childhood, were the things she became an expert on and gave generously to her children. Affection? Always. Encouragement? Always. Generosity? There could not be more lavish love given than through my parent’s servant hearts. What invaluable lessons I would have missed if I had not seen my mother care for her mother, often in spite of spite.
Houses of secrets became houses of transparency and authenticity. I grew up in a home where nothing was concealed for the sake of perception or self-preservation. My word, can I just tell you that confidence grows heartily where shame is hunted and vanquished?
Can I tell you what I am genuinely grateful for? A house where suicide succeeded became my house where depression was dealt with head on. I grew up in my mother’s home, that was shaped by her mother’s home, and in my home we talked about mental health. A lot. I know my brothers and I would tell you we are alive today because my mom confronted signs of depression in us and was vigilant and relentless in pursuing our health and wholeness. We had the privilege of growing up feeling valued and treasured. We grew up feeling necessary to our family.
I could pretend sunnier things, and there will be some who’ll wish I did… but why would I when actual Light shined in the darkness? Fake families, fake anything– rob God real glory.
One generation’s critical nature is the next generation’s clarifying nature. One generation’s hardness is the next generation’s saltiness. If Jesus. Isn’t that a miracle? Equipping happens from and through our brokenness. Family trees with broken branches or scars still provide roots enough for good fruit. If Jesus.
I wept over the reality of years wasted for my grandmother. But not for long. And then I wept over the eternity she is experiencing now. A life defined by work, now defined by rest. A life spent proving herself to the world now eternity, spent with the Savior of the world proving His love to her. The joys she had pursued or tried to purchase? Now unnecessary when face to face with the One who paid the ultimate price for her, Jesus Christ–THE JOY-GIVER. You’re finally home with THE GOOD FATHER, honey. There were mansions waiting, Mimi. Yours were never going to compare.
We often think about the physical afflictions healed in Heaven, but my heart delights over the emotional scars being healed in the same love and light… the minds that are finally right, the hearts that are finally healthy, the weary that are now well. The rigid rocks finally melted in *HIS* death, burial, and resurrection. The next time I see my grandmother, I will see a soul who has finally felt her worth, who needs nor wants for anything.
Take heed and heart, my dears. There will come a day where you are the gatekeeper over what is finally buried in your family history and what is worthy of drawing from the ashes to scatter and nourish tomorrow’s soil.
Unpleasant things for you aren’t always unhelpful things to your children. There are worse things to pass on than the determination to survive. Or the ability to make a lovely home out of unlovely things.
I look at Lil’s children, and children’s children… there’s not a faker in the bunch. Don’t let the culinary skills, ginger jars, or bold lipstick on the ladies fool you. We are brawlers. Maybe not Greenwich granite… but I’ll take Scrubby-Deutsch with diamonds any day, every day. Even on ironing day.
*A true picture of a daughter faithful to honor her mother to the end, my mother gathered up Mimi the Great’s treasures and flooded them and the room with flowers, food, and fellowship in her mother’s honor. Laugh, my brothers and I did… but Mimi planned her funeral years ago and I don’t know if it was on purpose, but that coffin is the exact shade of champagne as her last Caddy. When the saints go marching in is right! Or rolling in in a cream puff Sedan Deville.