In the Ashes

I’m sitting in the ashes.

The grey char has dirtied my clothing and skin but I don’t care. I am content to be here. It’s my season.

We often fear the ashes. They feel unclean and our society balks against dirtiness. They leave indelible stains and we are all about removing those. Their particles permeate the air and our lungs must have only pure oxygen.

Now I sit, sometimes in silence, but only silence on the outside. Inside, there are scenes playing in rapid fire succession. Poignant moments. Warmth of embraces. Snippets of conversations. Compliments. Rebukes. Twinkling eyes. Silly jokes. Dinners, coffees, donuts. Hundreds of thousands of moments. Sweet but aching all at once.

Sometimes the ash is mingled with tears- copious amounts of them; tears of anger mixed with expletives like f**k cancer and “why don’t I have parents” questions. Then drops of anguish or fear come splashing out, fear of my own mortality (will I get cancer too?) and anguish- the crushing kind where your chest feels heavy from a broken heart.

I get up and walk away from the ashes because I have to. Life goes on around me- homework, work, bills, dinners, grocery shopping. Then I go back, not because I have to, but because I want to. It’s my season and it will soon be a distant memory, not forgotten, just moved past.

I am not afraid here. These ashes are a reminder- a sobering one- that life is like a mist but there is an eternity that awaits us; that a life lost is not a life forgotten. As the soot cannot be easily removed from anything it touches, so grief stains our entire being in a somber grey. But I will rise from the ashes a better person.

Come Grovel With Me

I’ve had a bit of a “week” shall we say. So while this may sound like a bit of a rant… well frankly, it is.

 People disappoint me. I disappoint myself.

 I fail. Others fail me.

Sometimes, I want to blurt out the F word- but I don’t.

For awhile now, I get the idea that Christians expect other Christians to just suck it up, pray to Jesus and move on. While I don’t advocate sitting around whining, pining, griping, grumbling, complaining, ranting, etc., I do believe in being real- honest with those around us- transparent, and most of all leveling with God. If we were, I think there would be a lot less guilt-based issues within the realm of Christianity.

What if, next Sunday at church when someone says: “Hi. How are you?” to me, I tell them just how my week has REALLY gone (in a churchy nutshell kind of fashion). What if I gave them a little glimpse into the major disappointments I had to deal with over my teen’s decisions or tell them how I’ve been struggling with discontentment. They would likely look at me aghast. Many people are afraid to hear the rawness of emotion or the blatancy of honest struggles. Instead they probably want to get this answer: “Fine”.

Thankfully, God isn’t afraid of us being raw with Him. In fact, HE IS THE FIRST ONE WE SHOULD RUN TO WITH OUR EMOTIONS/BURDENS ANYWAYS. He is not afraid of my anger. He will not back down when I question Him. He is not crushed (like I am with my kids) when I rebel against His word. He is never miffed when I have a season in which my heart wanes and grows rather affection-less.

Ever read the Psalms? David again and again expresses frustration from seeming lack of help.  He laments over an emotional and spiritual chasm. He even shakes a proverbial fist at feeling disregarded or abandoned by God. He feels forgotten about, afflicted, crushed.

Even so, he always brings it back to praising the worth of God.  He recollects all the very wonderful things that God has done- all the miracles large and small. He remembers the never ending kindness, love, forgiveness, compassion, grace, mercy. David never riles against the LORD and then just leaves it there.

Neither should we. When the hard moments or season of moments overwhelm us we must restore our soul with recounting the goodness of the Savior, basking in the loveliness of His forgiveness, the mercy of His grace and His sometimes strange providential workings. He wants us to adore Him. He wants our faithful affection. He wants repentance.

If only we could approach each other with the same honesty and candidness within the church. Why must we hide behind a guise of: “It’s all hunky dory all the time at MY spirit filled house?”

I believe: it’s ok to grovel from time to time and what better encouragement than to be able to sit there on the ground with someone who shares your faith, someone who loves you, despite the dust on your clothes. A friend that will extend the hands of compassion and grace, just like Christ does, is worth a hundred who “just can’t relate” or doesn’t want to get too messy.