"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."
~ Philippians 3: 20-21
Yesterday afternoon I spent time with a woman who is in the final days of her life. As we sat and talked, she told me, "I'm trying to make friends with death."
It was the first time that I ever encountered someone attempting to engage in death in a way that it brought about a friendship. For this woman, this was her way of finding comfort as she draws nearer to her last breath.
I remember the loneliness I discovered when my daughter went off to college and I struggled to "figure out," what my life was going to be like. I had not lived alone in over twenty years, and when I suddenly discovered that I was the only one living at home, a sense of loneliness seemed to overwhelm me. A friend suggested that I "make friends with my loneliness," much like this woman yesterday making friends with death.
What I discovered is that drawing closer to my loneliness actually helped me to discover more about the feelings that I was having. I became aware that I could either run from these feelings, or try to understand them better.
So often we try to avoid the things that cause us pain, feelings of loneliness, or things that have wounded us. It is only natural not to want these things in our lives. However, when we run away from these things, they do not necessarily diminish from our lives. We may find a way to temporarily block them, but unless we address these things, they may suddenly reappear in ways that may lead to unhealthy, life choices, feeling lost, or even into depression.
Our challenge is not to escape these situations, but to discover the source by exploring why it is that we feel a certain way, or react to things in a particular manner. It's not easy to do because identifying the things that have or can cause us pain can be rather frightening, challenging, or just simply painful.
The woman yesterday, sharing that she is "making friends with death," reminded me that when we get to know more about why we feel, or act, a certain way, while identifying the cause, it somehow loses some of the power over you. What we fail to realize is that it often doesn't mean that we need to sit and dwell on the issue. Instead, we must search these things our with our heart.
As this woman "makes friends with death," I realize that what she is doing is creating a place in her heart where she can live without fear as she completes her journey. Having the courage to face our fears, pains, or wounds, means that we emerge on the other side as changed. Our ability to make friends with these things creates a place for healing and wholeness while we strive to move forward.
As we take these things to heart, we are reminded to love God with that same heart, our soul, and to love our neighbors as we strive to love ourselves.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2019
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.