Tag Archive | Times of Trouble

Motherless on Mother’s Day

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Dear Motherless on Mother’s Day,

This time of the year can be rough for us who no longer have our mothers with us. Seeing others making plans with their moms can evoke all kinds of feelings—jealousy, grief, sadness, etc.

My mom died on May 9, 2017. It was the Tuesday before Mother’s Day. The void didn’t really hit me at that time because I was still in shock. Plus, in the days immediately following a loved one’s death, we’re inundated with phone calls, texts, and visits. Grief is often truly felt in the days when everyone else’s life goes back to normal and those immediately impacted by death must learn to adjust.

I get it. I live it. And just when I think I’ve gotten a grip on grief, it throws me a curveball.

This past week, the grief about my mother’s death and the dread of Mother’s Day have been worst than in previous years. Maybe it’s because her death date and Mother’s Day are the same this year. Who knows? I could speculate all day long, but the bottom line is that things have been emotionally tough lately.  

Whether you’ve recently lost your mother or she died years ago, if you find yourself struggling on this day, I want to offer words that I hope will help you.

It’s okay to miss her. Deep folks like to comfort us with Scripture about how our loved ones are in a better place now. “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). They mean well, but sometimes those words are just that . . . words. Of course, it’s good to have the assurance that our loved ones are with Jesus after they die. That doesn’t negate our feelings of missing them. Don’t feel bad or guilty because you do. My mom was sick and in pain. I am glad that she’s no longer suffering. Yet, I still miss her, and I refuse to feel bad about that.

Tell others how you are feeling. I struggled all week. Actually, the struggle began several weeks ago as I knew of this day approaching. The closer this day got, the worse I began to feel. I cried off and on all week, sometimes without warning. When I first recognized the struggle of this day, I shared my feelings with others and asked them to pray for me. Despite a very rough emotional week, the heaviness began to lift yesterday. Today has been filled with laughter and joy. No tears, although tears would have been okay, too! I know that the prayers of my family and friends got me through this moment. Don’t be afraid to tell people how you’re feeling. Compassionate people will not tell you that you should be over grief by now. They will pray you through it! Everyone may not understand, so seek God for discernment about those with whom you can share.

Reminisce. My mother has left me with plenty of memories. I think of things that she said or did, and I’m filled with joy, laughter, and life lessons. Let’s be real. All memories aren’t pleasant. There were times when she made me mad or hurt my feelings. I even cherish those memories because they are a testament to the unconditional love that she taught me. There are times when my mother worked my last nerve. (Best believe that she’s telling Jesus the same thing about me! Lol.) Nevertheless, there was something about the love we shared that overrode any less-than-pleasant experiences. No matter what, we looked out for one another.

I remember the day she died like it was yesterday . . .

“Hey,” I said to my mom as she lay barely conscious. “I hear that you’re about to go see Jesus. I don’t like that you’re leaving, but I’m happy for you that you’ll no longer be in pain.” I tried to keep my voice steady, although tears raced down my face. I told her a bunch of stuff, such as how it was an honor to be her caregiver, that the kids and I would be okay, and that I appreciate everything she ever taught me. “I love you, lady,” I said.

She opened her eyes. Although she couldn’t talk and I know she was in pain, she mouthed the words, “I love you.”

That was the last time she opened her eyes or attempted to say anything. Later that afternoon, she passed.

Four years later, I am still grateful for that moment with her. It gives me such peace to know that I did everything in my power to care for her. I appreciate my husband who never batted an eye or said a negative word when she had to come live with us. I am thankful for my children who adjusted without complaint. I am glad that she didn’t have to take her final breath alone. I was there along with other family members. As I reminisce about life with her, I think about her death. Although I don’t think I would have ever wanted to let her go, I am glad that she went peacefully in the presence of her family.  

I realize that every motherless person may not have gotten a chance like that. Maybe your mother passed suddenly and unexpectedly. Maybe your relationship with her was strained, or perhaps you didn’t treat her as you should have or vice versa. If your mom wasn’t good to you, forgive her. If you weren’t good to her, forgive yourself. Such scenarios are sure to only exacerbate your grief. My advice to you is not to live in the land of woulddas, shoulddas, and coulddas. Ask what you can learn from past experiences to make your current and future ones better.

I am still learning from my mommy, and I always will. Sometimes when something happens, I think, “Wig would have . . . .” (Wig was her nickname.) I even find myself saying things that she would have said. Her fingerprint is very much imprinted on my life. I am who I am because she was who she was.

To the motherless on Mother’s Day, although your mother is not physically with you, part of her still lives on in you . . . you are her legacy! Continue to make her proud!

Jesus, I ask that You be with all who have a difficult time with the loss of their mothers. Only You know the depth of their struggles. Only You can help them through these tough times. Thank You for the gift of my mother. I know that You are caring for her better than I ever could. Give her a big hug and kiss for me, and tell her that I said, “Happy Mother’s Day!”

The Wait

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He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly[a] with your God.”—Micah 6:8, NIV

“Do to others as you would have them do to you” comes from Luke 6:31. In verses 27–36, Jesus is speaking about how we should treat our enemies. He says that we should bless them, love them, and give them the very clothing off our backs, among other things. Even when people mistreat us, Jesus says that we should treat them right. It’s easy to be kind to those who deserve it. The challenge comes when we must be kind to those who don’t. As I awaited the verdict of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, I wondered how I would react if the decision wasn’t one with which I agreed.

Would I be kind to Derek Chauvin if he was acquitted and somehow our paths crossed? I want to think that I would dig deep into my faith to treat him kindly if he was not held accountable, but maybe I’m giving myself too much credit. After all, I’m still bothered by George Zimmerman’s acquittal and his lack of contrition ever since. The nerve of that man to sue Trayvon’s parents after causing them so much pain irks me. Yeah, I think I would struggle a bit with kindness.

I couldn’t watch any footage of Chauvin’s trial. This season is already an emotional one for me due to my own journey of grief. I didn’t want to induce an emotional roller coaster by watching the ping pong match between the defense and the prosecutor. I knew the defense would make claims that would incite me. So, I didn’t watch, but every day, I checked the internet for the latest update. When I saw the announcement that the jury had reached a verdict, I was nervous.

In Micah 6:8, we learn from the prophet that the Lord requires us to “act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly.” One definition of justice by dictionary.com is “the administering of deserved punishment or reward.” I wondered what the jurors would consider just. Would they be fair, or would there be differential justice? I was literally sick to my stomach as I waited to hear the verdict.

As the judge began reading, I held my breath. Guilty. I cried. I screamed. I was relieved.

The verdict doesn’t stop the pain of George Floyd’s loved ones or those who mourn with them, nor does it erase the many other injustices that have taken place before or after George Floyd’s death. I’m optimistic that the verdict will bring hope for others who are dealing with injustices.

Meanwhile, those of us who follow Christ have Biblical charges, whether or not we like them. I’ll be the first to raise my hand and say that treating enemies kindly isn’t something that I can do on my own. Wanting justice is the easy part. Loving mercy for myself is easy as well, but not so much when it comes to others when I feel they have “gotten away” with something, especially something that has caused someone a lot of pain. How prideful of me, right? Guess I need help with walking humbly as well. I’m sure I’m not the only one. As we go through this journey of life together, let’s encourage and pray for one another. I need you. You need me. Together and separately, we need Christ!

Father, we are living in a hurting world. Evidence of brokenness is all around us. Sometimes it seems like evil is winning. The emotional fabric of our society is fragile. Although what we see can be discouraging, help us not give up hope and trust that You are and will always be in full control. May You grant wisdom, give peace, and bring healing as only you can!

 

The Divided Church

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“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand”—Matthew 12:25b, New King James Bible

“It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is 11 o’clock on Sunday morning”—Martin Luther King, Jr.

The above words were spoken in 1963, and they still ring true in 2021.

It should come as no shock then that just because the calendar reset on January 1, our lives didn’t. We’re only halfway through the first month of a new year, and we’re still dealing with the same stuff we left behind on December 31. It’s a new day, but the same old problems exist. We are still a nation divided.

We see the division in Congress with politicians voting along party lines on issues instead of acting in their constituents’ best interest.

We see it in our neighborhoods where schools have gained reputations of being predominantly “white” or “black.”

Sadly, we also see it in our churches.

Now, let me pause for a second to say that it’s natural for people to join institutions in their local communities. If that community looks like them, then of course, a church will have a predominant composition. The appearance of a church’s membership isn’t my issue. It’s the divided hearts that concern me the most.

Those who represent God have gotten drawn into the blue and red debate, putting politics over the unity of their faith. Politics is being promoted from the pulpit along with the “Black” Gospel and “White” Gospel. There is an “us” v. “them” mindset, forgetting that as Christians, we are all an “us.” “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). It’s the Gospel, plain and simple.

There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your heritage. If there is, please pray for me because I like the melanin in my skin and all the characteristics that make me a proud Black woman. I wouldn’t trade identities with anyone in this world.

I will also admit that it’s easy to become callous when witnessing so many injustices. Eight minutes and forty-six seconds . . . just typing it caused a flood of emotions. That’s how long Derek Chauvin kept his knee on George Floyd’s neck. The memory of that moment incinerates me, and without the intervening power of the Holy Spirit, it could easily fill my heart with hatred. However, that is not God’s way, so it can’t be mine.
If we have any chance of healing our nation, it must start with all of us in the church—Black folks, White folks, and everyone in between. When the Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out demons by a demon, He responded by saying, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand” (Matt. 12: 25b.) America is in need of a great healing, but we’ve gotten on the crazy train if we think we’re going to do this without God.

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” 2 Chronicles 7:14

I know that everyone doesn’t believe in God or the authority of the Bible. This Scripture doesn’t call on everyone; it is a plea to God’s people. If those of us who claim to know Him will unify in prayer, we can make a difference.

Father, Thank You for how You uniquely made each one of us. Let our differences be an avenue for learning more about one another instead of dividing us. Heal the hurts that have been caused among Your people by Your people so that we can be instruments of healing for the world. Thank you for establishing governments for order, but let us not misplace hope in officials to do the work that only You can do. Only You can change hearts. Start with ours. Let our love for You unite us instead of allowing the prevalent sin of this world divide us.

Jesus, Help!

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“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1, NIV

On October 19, 2020 around 7:15 a.m., it was dark and raining. I was driving on the highway listening to a podcast when my windshield wipers suddenly malfunctioned. The driver’s side wiper flew off and onto the road, and the other one stopped working altogether. One moment, I was in peace. The next, I was in a panic. There I was going between 60–70 mph, and I could not see a thing. The darkness, combined with the rain, prevented me from seeing the white lines on the road clearly.

“Jesus!” I screamed. “Help!”

I turned on my hazards and slowed down, inching over between the lights of other cars, praying that I would make it to safety. I finally got to a place on the freeway where it split, and I pulled between the two interstates, lacking confidence that I could make it all the way to the right shoulder.
Adrenaline pumping, I sighed. “Thank You, Jesus!”

I called for roadside assistance, then my husband and daughter. I also shared the experience with my prayer groups, expressing my gratitude for God’s protection, not only of me but also for others on the highway. I cried tears of joy and relief. My stomach was in knots. I was shaking, but I was safe.

There are so many things that this experience signifies to me. First, it’s a reminder of personal growth. I recall a time in my life when calling on the Name of Jesus would not have been my first choice of words. Oh, I would have had a four-letter expression of some kind, but I doubt that it would have been “help.” It’s amazing to reflect back on the old self and see God’s transformative power at work in your current life.

Second, the experience reminded me of how accessible God is via prayer. I didn’t have time for fancy words or a long introduction. He was present in my time of trouble and answered both my spoken and unspoken requests. That “help” encompassed a lot—help me make it to safety, help me not cause an accident, help calm my nerves, and more!

Third, it was an opportunity to praise Him. Sure, I could have been upset by the inconvenience of having to re-arrange my plans. After all, I had a ton of responsibilities for the week, and I’d outlined what I needed to do and when I’d planned to do it. However, I wasn’t the least bit upset. I was grateful for so many reasons. The situation could have been much worse, but it wasn’t. I got home safely, the wipers were fixed, and the next day I did all the errands I’d started the previous day.

The psalmist referred to God as a present help. Whether we need Him at the spur-of-the-moment or during a long, drawn-out trial, He is with us. I pray that You not only know that He is present, but that you feel His presence as well, and that it gives you comfort in whatever situations you may face.