“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”Psalm 23:6
In the ugly parts of life, undone and unresolved when you are barely recognizable as the person you spend so much time framing yourself to be ...goodness and mercy, surely? Really?
In the hopeless spots where the glow of day has no strength to shine and a faint and feeble reach into the dark of a lingering night? In the moments hanging lonely and bare, sweeping the dirt and ashes of yesterday into a pile that feels as earthen and real as a grave? To that end, surely, goodness and mercy, all the days of my life?
Invade a man’s space and threaten him alone and you are likely to get pushed back. Even the most patient of people will push back to whatever is threatening if it persists. A rude co-worker, an insensitive neighbor, a bully of any kind leveraging fear for a manipulated outcome, any of these will provoke some kind of response from the person threatened. But, threaten a man’s family or those he feels a genuine, intrinsic responsibility to protect and preserve, and that man will walk through a wall with an unmeasured fury just to get his hands on that which is threatening.
I watched my daughter sit silently. Even when words left her mouth there was a muted nature about her as she sat a little removed from words and the moment. Staring a little longer out the window at the clouds resting heavy and grey and at the moving landscape of houses blurring together, lost in the normalcy all around her, she stands different, a little lost and sometimes uncomfortably bare. I don’t mind wrestling with grief and the peculiar heaviness of having to learn life new after becoming very accustomed to goodness, but like the blunt of a knife blindly and mercilessly moving through flesh striving to only heal, grief present in their little lives is a hard reality for me to have to be okay with. It is okay. It never feels right though.
“I hate that everyone I know has a mom,” she finally said. “Some of the kids at school don’t know about my mom or they forget. One kid made fun of her.” I joined her as she invited me into the silence of her moment. Grief was there. It was okay. I had to be okay as the blunt end turned a little more opening healing scars a little once again. And then after moments not seemingly kept by time, it leaves. Like a visitor unconcerned with invites or warm welcomes, grief comes in and out of time. It is necessary. It is okay. It is a must. And in the end, a friend.
Grief has taught me fullness, to live life courageously, more unapologetically and unendingly grateful. Like a guide leading me or a judge removed from sides begging for justice, grief gracefully introduces me to joy. In the heaviest moments, as my heart demands its absence and departure from our lives, grief persists subduing rebel parts of my heart swinging hurt and stumbling drunk on pain. And in the quiet silence of muted words and blanker stares, joy grows in the warm soil of gratitude.
The bad, it is but a circumstance, an ugly one, but a passing moment, nonetheless. Every storm quiets and every wave lays flat at the echoing hope of life once and forever resolved. That makes everything okay.
Like the blind man sitting by the roadside lost and forgotten yelling desperately over the crowd demanding him to quiet, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”*, a heart beaten, bruised and stabbed violently by circumstance ugly and hopeless, must reach out to open again. It is precisely in this reaching that goodness and mercy are found and begin to follow.
And so with words climbing out of the silence shared between father and daughter sometimes confused on how to be okay with an uninvited guest, I tell her simply, “It is okay.” And her eyes refocus and look at me. “Okay.”
Goodness and mercy following us in silence and not; in strength and weakness; in hopeless and hopeful. Surely.
*Luke 18:39, ESV