|This year, September 25th fell on a Saturday.|
It was perfect because that’s a special day for me. My sister, Diana, died seven years ago in a car accident. Her birthday is September 25th. Of all the things I remember about her, I like to think about how laid back she was. She liked to have a good time and enjoyed hanging out.
So, as a way to honor and remember her life, every September 25th I like to celebrate. Sometimes we go out. Most times we stay in and barbecue. I wear the Yaga T-shirt Diana gave me and do my very best to enjoy the day.
Now, to be able to do all this took me several years. The day she died was one of the most painful days of my life. Seven years ago I could not have imagined celebrating her birthday anymore.
I had lost loved ones before. Even another younger brother, Jeremy. I think of him, too, on his birthday, April 3rd, and on Diana’s. He fought Leukemia with a smile and infectious joy. I was a teenager when Jeremy passed. So, processing his death was difficult. I yelled at a teacher the next day. All these years later I’ve learned that in a lot of ways, I am who I am today and my kids are who they are because of Jeremy.
It feels strange sometimes when I think about it, but the pain of losing both of them reminds me to celebrate.
That’s part of what healing does. It gives you perspective. It helps you understand what you couldn’t before. It even helps you celebrate. There’s a line to one of my favorite songs that says, “God will take away your pain if you choose to let it go.” To be sure, letting go of pain can be difficult and, well, painful itself. What’s on the other side of letting go of pain, is God’s healing.
I hope I’m making sense. And I want to show you this is a part of scripture, too.
Let’s recall the pain of exile the people of God endured. Then fast forward to when they can return home. You might be home but you don’t just forget that pain. There were several fasts the people observed that recalled tragic moments related to their exile. Through the prophet Zechariah, God told the people their mourning would transform into joy, gladness and cheerful feasts.
God would restore the people if they love truth and peace. This promise would mean redemption and a new deliverance for the people of God. It would benefit God’s people. But the Lord also showed them their healing would be for many other nations, too.
Other people would hear of God’s redemption and “grasp the garment of a Jew.” They would seek God because they heard “that God is with you.”
You know me, I’m all about using the tools available to us to share the good news of Jesus. But I also know we can trust ourselves a little too much. We can, for example, depend on social media or marketing more than prayer and the power of God. What seems to be true for the people of God then is true for us today. As we learn to heal, as we learn to let God heal us, our pain becomes a testimony. Our testimony becomes a witness.
And who knows, by learning to celebrate again we might be opening the door for someone else to know the goodness and love of God.
I appreciated what the guys had to say in this week’s episode. We talked about personal and community trauma and what role the church should have in addressing them.
I chimed in from my church office. So, I didn’t have my usual mic–I could tell!