Some of the most precious moments in the last months of my mother’s life were the “tenderheartedness” of her caregivers…the softness of their words, their smiles, their hands and love not just to her, but to all of us as we watched our beloved mother slip away. They truly mourned with us.
This past Sunday would have been my mom’s 81st birthday. I spent the better part of the day just reflecting on her life…her words…her influence. But I also was overwhelmed with the gratitude I had for all the women who helped my sister, my dad and myself take care of her and us while she declined in health. As I think back over my life, in the good times and the bad, God often brings to my mind the people He has provided who have tender hearts…full of compassion….especially in the difficult times. I am so thankful for all the friends and family who mourned with us when we lost her.
Life doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Recently I had the opportunity to hear Mark Miller, a great author and speaker, talk and teach about the importance of celebrating with people and mourning with people. He stressed the importance of mourning. He said weddings can be optional but in life….mandate yourself…to mourn with those who mourn. He understands how tender the heart is of those who mourn and the “life blood” we can bring to come alongside someone who is devastated.
All of Sunday God continued to take my thoughts to the people who have extended their “tender hearts” to our family in the “hard” times, in the times of “mourning”. He took my thoughts to the 80 year old gentleman, Loran, in Athens and the 50 year old woman, Vanessa, Collins’ boyfriend Mike, Collins’ friend Ayden, her boss/friend Connie, and her small group leader, Miss Charlotte. All of these people came alongside Collins not just for a day, but for two years as she mourned the loss of golf in college. Words will never adequately express the love and gratitude I have for the people who have come alongside me or my family in times of mourning and loss. How their tender, loving care didn’t just nourish our hearts, but exposed theirs.
On the Back 9, I join Mark Miller in stressing the importance and value of mourning with people. Loss is a huge part of life. I have three dear friends, lifelong friends, one of whom buried their son a year ago. Another just recently buried their son, and the third buried her beloved husband several years ago. Their lives as they knew it will never be the same. My dear friend Jacqui just lost her mother. As I visited with her, I felt her pain and loss. :o( An important note here: Grief and mourning….doesn’t have to be because of death. It can be the loss of a job, a position, a divorce, a friendship, a diagnosis, etc.
It is engrained on my heart and mind forever the “OUTPOURING” of tenderness and love we received when Thomas was 5 and we learned of his diagnosis. God used many people to bring help, healing and courage to our broken, shocked, and fearful hearts.
I want to encourage everyone, myself included, to pray for God to “tenderize” your heart to those around you who may be in “mourning.” God desires for all of us to have a tender and compassionate heart. There is no one in this life that is gonna skirt pain and loss. The great news is that we all have a very important opportunity and call–“Mourn with those who mourn” as described in Romans 12:15. Recognize it for what it is…a chance to be “light”
…to be Jesus
…to be the “good Samaritan” who chooses to get off his/her busy highway of life
…to “bandage and dress the wounds of others!”
It doesn’t just nourish their heart; it exposes yours and continues to “tenderize” it…to “keep us sensitive” to others. It can also create within us a heart of gratitude.
Don’t forget to celebrate with people as well…but there is just something about a “broken heart”…a time of mourning where hearts are so tender and exposed…that God can use any of us…to be a “miraculous healer”. How cool is that?
Let me end with a passionate passage about healing for the brokenhearted found in Isaiah 61 verses 1-3. Ask God how He can use you to help someone who needs a “garment of praise”, who needs reminding that God will provide the “oil of joy”.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”