2.5 months into 2017. Wow.
January is a blur that I don’t recall being overly pleasant or painful. February was both of those things.
The first weekend was at home. I spent the majority of the weekend driving, on my living room couch, or walking the streets of Chicago, but I spent the best (though fewer) moments with my parents and a few great pals.
I spent the next (4-day!!!) weekend in Nashville with my babygurl, Morgan. I met this sweet human when I was a sophomore in HS and parted my hair on the wrong side and didn’t smile with my teeth and she was in 6th grade and had braces and sparkly glasses. Neither of us knew who we were, but over the course of our years together, we’ve figured that out bit by bit. We are works in progress. Nowadays, time together is rare, but precious. The most amazing thing was the ease with which she rattled off distant memories (many of which I nodded along to with no actual recollection…) from earlier seasons of our friendship. Things I’d said, outfits I’d worn, things the girls in our group had thought or talked about while I was out of earshot. Things you remember about those who go just before you in life, doing there best to lead you through the rough bits and point out the best views. It continues to be a great honor to watch this girl grow into a young woman. It is also a great (and sometimes awkward) honor to learn about all of the big and small ways I influenced that growth.
That following Thursday I received a text from my best friend that her father was with Jesus. My oreo shake melted while I cried in the parking lot of Potbelly’s for my sweet friend and for her family and for not being able to hold her right then. This family knows sorrow and suffering. They know it deeply, and I was once again broken for and with them. I drove the three hours to her and to Charlevoix that Sunday to see a play - one written by her father years earlier. It was beautiful and challenging and literally affected eternity. Everyone also cried a lot, understandably.
When something like this happens to someone you love so deeply, you wonder how you could possibly make any difference, how you could ease her pain even slightly. As someone who is rarely speechless, my instinct was to find and say words. But I knew that the entire dictionary could not fix anything. I needed to show up. So I made the same drive the following Tuesday afternoon to celebrate Mr. Whitaker’s incredible life and continuing testimony. I spent those three hours in CHX taking care of kiddos and tracking down water bottles and crying with everyone in that sanctuary and listening to story after story after story about how this man lived his life trying to be Jesus to his family and his friends. Stories of how he never met a stranger. Stories of him doing ordinary and extraordinary things with and for the LORD. He loved people deeply. He cared for people in tangible ways. He showed up. And then, literally within days of his passing, his family and his story led at least a dozen people to a life-changing relationship with Jesus.
I drove the same three hours home through dense fog and torrential rain and my own tears to bible study, because even though I smelled like babies and coffee and sadness, I wasn’t sure I knew how to be alone yet. It is times like these where I am grateful to not only be given the chance to show up for my people, but also to be given the gift of my people showing up for me.
As always, I love you for reading this, whoever you are.