Funerals, Pink Floyd, and Mascara

Today I wore regular mascara (not water-proof) to a funeral for an 18-yr-old boy. When will I learn? Don’t answer that.

This handsome fellow was killed in a spring break car accident. So, you are tempted to read over that sentence and put him in the college spring break box, right? Mmmm hmmmm, heard that same old story before. Except, this kid was on his way to do mission work. And he was hit while helping another motorist who had been rear-ended. He is what is known in the mothering world as a FYM. Fine Young Man. Okay, that’s not really a term. It can be now. I want to raise some FYMs in my house. You?

NRG Photos via flickr

It’s the perfect atmosphere for a storm of questions from my 7-yr-old. A good kid was here;now he isn’t. Questions I can’t answer. Questions which dredge up all of my doubts from the seedy dark corners of my innards. Please don’t picture my innards.

Our school days start with what we dork-ily call “What’s God Saying?” We read from God’s Book. I distract my developmentally delayed toddler (can we call him a “toddler” if he isn’t walking?) with goldfish crackers strategically placed around the room. We ask God questions.  I tolerate my 5-r-old’s complaints of boredom. (I’m sorry, what part of the Red Sea’s being parted do you find boring?) We ask God what we are supposed to get from what we just read. I further distract the non-toddling toddler with a bin of pinto beans to dig in. And throw. We tell God what we don’t understand. (Last week, my 7-yr-old wondered why it was okay for Rahab to tell a lie. Hmmmm. Good one.) We give God our day. Then we lighten things up with a dance break. All homeschoolers should have a dance break built into the schedule. Let’s be honest: All humans should have a dance break built into the schedule. It should involve Pink Floyd, Emmylou Harris, and Elvis. The rest is negotiable, an elective.

Why, yes, it is quite glamorous, isn’t it? How kind of you to notice.

Confession time. Sometimes when I am reading God’s story to my kids I wonder, what if we get to the end of life and this is all a joke? What if I am teaching my kids a hollow tale. You heard me. What if we are just desperate for something to believe in? What if we end our sentences with prepositions?

Then today I am in a church full of people. Full of young people. I’m the cynical one walking in with her big ole messy gaping life-wounds and sorrowful doubt I’ve carried in from outside. I’m the one gasping for air, hungry for a word of truth. I’m the one who has gifts only God could give…and I’m still just not quite sure. And the young surround a casket. And a mom and a dad. Their hands are raised. They sing of glory. How can they be wrong?

Maybe C.S. Lewis is right. ”Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.” God either is or He isn’t. I’m going with is.

I worshiped today at a funeral. In my regular mascara.

Thanks so much for letting me wrestle with God right out here in the open. It would be embarrassing, but I’m too exhausted to feel it. Thanks for loving me even with my limp.

Tell me where you have worshiped lately. I’ll bet it wasn’t at church. Tell me what you will dance to on your dance break. Tell me He is real. Tell me how you know.

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  • Bobo

    God is most obvious when there is no other light in the blackness; all the distractions fade because there is no light in them. (Emmylou- I knew there was some culture in your messy life) Luv Bobo

  • jean

    When I read his obituary my immediate thought was of his parents.How could they bear their loss?How losing my child would drive me to the floor with madness and grief. Too young! Was my thought. One of my clients “of a certain age” said her son went to school with the boy’s father…she was a little late because she was at the visitation. She went early because she knew there would be so many young people at the latter visitation. Small world, Big God.No answers, I’m not smart enough. Hugged my kid a little tighter today. And we dance daily here, to really “bad” music…..

  • daniel tomlinson

    I was worshiping with you at the same funeral, only the tears made the words on the screens inaudible. They weren’t inaudible to God, but as I choked back the sadness and raised my arms in anguish I can only hope that this FYM’s death will bring us a greater hope. I think it will, but right now my heart is heavy with the injustice and unfairness of taking someone that could have been a President of the United States. He was that kind of man. He wasn’t Jesus, but he never claimed to be. He was merely another beggar showing other beggars where the bread is.

  • Andrea Ferrell

    Say “yes” to disco. Hug your boy again.

  • Andrea Ferrell

    The world needs more Emmylou. And more Bobos.

  • Andrea Ferrell

    Hooray for FYMs! Thanks for reading, Daniel.

  • Christiana Liddle

    Suffering is everywhere. Sometimes I survey it from afar. Sometimes I watch as suffering comes crashing through someone’s door and decides to reside awhile. It has knocked on my own door. And every time it demands an answer….why them? why me? why? A one word question that will bounce around this atmosphere until the end of time as we know it. No human this side of heaven has ever come up with an answer good enough to quiet the suffering/wreathing heart….not one single person in all the time of humanity has written a response in which the suffering responds “oh, now I get it! okay!” But there was one that stepped out of heaven and came down. He didn’t give answers. He gave love and acceptance. over and over and over again. He didn’t give an answer for suffering, he embraced my pain. took it all the way to a cross, then a tomb that could not keep him. So so often when I awaken each day and my feet hit the floor and words like failure, and overwhelmed blanket me…I do have an answer. His voice. The ones that says you are my mighty warrior. A warrior that can face today that looks just like yesterday and tomorrow is going to look just like today. My child so neck deep in the needs of others that you lose yourself. I’m promised life. Eternal life. What else is there really. Can I prove this? No. But I have seen lives lived out with this hope and then others that are void of hope. I choose hope. Doubt, questions and anger usually comes on the tail of something not going my way. My way. No, I do not understand. But this is also from the same person that can barely provide for my family and get a shower in the same day. I better acquiesce to someone else on this matter. Its not an answer, but at the end of the day its all I’ve got….and I think that is the point.

  • Christiana Liddle

    please know this response was to general suffering and my own doubt. With Ty gone, my heart is broken. Waves of denial, grief and sorrow wash over me all day long. I believe in the good news. But if I put myself in his family’s shoes, the chasm of days from now to heaven would seem so, so very insurmountable. But I watch their hope and am so humbled by how they are the ones that have inspired me…Ty did not fall far from the tree!

  • Andrea Ferrell

    I choose hope, too, Christiana. Most days.

    I do have a super intelligent friend who once asked, “Why not you?” in answer to the “Why me?” question. That gets right to it, huh?

  • gretchen

    Small world. I believe my friend’s niece was involved in this accident, especially if the young man’s name began with a T. Horrific, indeed. I was encouraged, by a friend who’s daughter went to heaven last March, to read Alcorn’s If God is Good…Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil. It’s a big brick of a book. Very good. But I recommend the “cliff’s notes” version he sells, as well. I used that in a Bible study, and we could not get over the beefiness and information in that little booklet.

    There are no good answers on this side of heaven, I’m afraid. We simply muddle through with the hope of Jesus until He comes.

  • Andrea Ferrell

    Thanks so much, Gretchen. I will look into the Alcorn rec.

  • Kathy McDaniel

    Yesterday I worshipped in my car as I found out my mom’s best friend died. She was one of those people who when you met them, you just KNEW God was real. I worshipped in my living room watching my kids drive off with my ex husband after a day of nightmarish behavior on his part, trusting that God was real, as He was the only one who could protect my children from their father’s toxic behavior. I worshipped at Subway after talking with my best friend about her plans to celebrate 19 years of marriage after going through countless trials that would have severed most relationships, knowing that Christ was at the core of their marriage, allowing the trials to refine and strengthen them. I worshipped in a theater for my daughter’s field trip, as I watched a troupe of actors from Scotland keep a room full of 4th graders enchanted with the story of Zorro, knowing that the gifts and abilities they displayed on stage, we’re merely gifts, generously bestowed by God. And I worshipped at home, realizing that the crap (yes, I said it! ) that I have had to endure for the past 5 years, that resulted in painful abandonment, was temporary, as I have a future with a Savior who spoke the heavens into existence with but a word, and yet who cared enough to encapsulate himself into a mere human body. He did that just so that He could die and pay the ransom for me, to restore a relationship that I had severed with my sin. And in the midst of this, I danced to Mercy Me’s “Move”, Mandisa’s “Good Morning”, and the entire Tobymac/Group1Crew playlist on my iPhone!

  • Andrea Ferrell

    Ah, so your life IS worship. Beautiful, Kathy. Just beautiful. Thank you. Bless you, sweet mama.

  • Marc Scanlon

    I worshipped on airplane today going from Detroit to Salt Lake City. I too worshipped with tears streaming down my closed eyes. I was inspired by Natalie Grants tune about Jesus, the Name above all names. I also listened to Phillips, Craig and Dean’s rendition of the Revelation Song, and finally Jesus Culture, which really get it going through their live worship CD’s. I have seen this type of loss up close and personal, having lost my 17 yr old niece the day after Christmas in 2006 in an auto accident, a SUV roll over. It has been over 5 years, and the pain, though lessened and deadened, is still there. Our God is so real, so loving, so majestic, so personable, so caring, it is all I can do at times to keep it together. I like to think of myself running into the arms of Jesus, sobbing uncontrollably, but then with just the lightest of touches, Jesus takes all my pain, angst and doubt, and fills me with the most indescribable, complete, and utter joy and peace that I have ever known. In fact, when I seek Him out with all my heart and soul, he does this too. EVEN NOW!

  • Andrea Ferrell

    Airplane worship. I love it. I’m so sorry about your niece, Marc. Thanks for reading.

  • Jackie F

    I sometimes wonder if you and I are connected mentally…. And by that, I mean as soon as I feel a struggle in my relationship with God, I see you fight the same battle; and that, my friend gives me hope and I think some proof of his omnipresence. My last thought before I read this was, “Come to think of it, God is the ultimate Big Brother….. What was 1984 REALLY about?” And then I read your beautiful words….

    I last worshipped at my vet’s office Friday when we had to put our dog down… Trivial? Probably…. But she took very good care of me during my darkest days. I think God sent her to me to have a reminder of what unconditional love was & that I still deserved it.

    I know this wasn’t a child… I feel guilty sometimes about the grief I am feeling over a pet – I can’t imagine what these parents are going through, nor do I ever want to…. But I do believe that babies choose their parents before they are born, and like my sweet dog, they are put here for a purpose. One, single purpose. It gives me hope that there is indeed a God & this is his plan for ALL of us….. To think that at such a young age, this FYM served the purpose God put him on this Earth for…… Well, I think that’s pretty fantastic. Sad, horrible, heart-wrenching – but beautiful and glorious at the same time….

    You make me dig, Andrea… And for that, I am forever grateful. I hope I didn’t offend – Pink Floyd FOREVER! ;)

  • Andrea Ferrell

    Jackie, we had to put down a most faithful chocolate lab a year-and-a-half ago. She was my baby before I had babies. She was with me through years of infertility and wrestling. You better beLIEVE I thanked God for her. It was my fault that I let her suffer for so long in her old age. Just couldn’t let her go. Now, we still have Mousse (another choc lab), and I try not to see his handsome grey beard coming in. Because I know what that grey beard means…And my kids love that dog. So, it’s gonna be all of us with broken hearts when it’s his time. Well, all of us except for Scout the cat. ;)

    Thanks for your thoughts. Thanks for putting up with my wrestling.