I am pretty overwhelmed by how much loss and suffering I have seen in the last year and a half. I know so many people, young and old, who have lost their spouses. I have watched my students and my siblings lose their friends to death and, tragically, these friends of theirs are children of loving parents and younger siblings of my friends and my students. Children have lost their parents and parents have lost their children. It is amazing to me how many people connected to my circle of Christ-following friends have lost those dearest to them in this life so very suddenly in just the last 18-20 months. 

As a teacher, I have had children confide in me so often the troubles of their precious hearts. Their struggles and anxieties begin so very young. I am teaching a little girl right now who is about 6 or 7 who lost her older sister last year. 7-year-olds are too young for that. I have their older sister in a class too. The sister who passed away was between them in age and I just remember the first day back to school after this tragedy, sweet “S” just hugged me tighter than I thought was possible. She smiles so big because she has that child-like faith that her dear sister is with Jesus. Her smile absolutely amazes me and I know it is Jesus in her. I know it like I know I like chocolate chip cookies because nothing but Jesus could put a smile like this on her precious, young face. 

I see these smiles, these unbelievable smiles of truest, deepest, heart-alteringest faith in the smallest faces. 

Then there are the kids who don’t know Jesus. The difference is heartbreaking to the absolute extreme. These tiny people who have barely lived life are already despairing in the deepest sense. They cannot understand why they even exist and their suffering is as real as you can imagine. They cry these hopeless tears that I thought only grown-ups knew how to cry. These sweet children who should be laughing and dancing and singing and exulting in just being alive. They are children. They are the little ones whom Jesus loves and wants us to let “come unto Him.” But they are already carrying grown-up-sized burdens and they can’t straighten their backs enough under the weight to look up at the Truth for even one moment. 

You think I’m being dramatic, but in the last 2 years I have spent countless hours with somewhere around 150-200 children. Many of these hours have been one-on-one and I am telling you that I am not exaggerating. 

There is so. much. suffering. 

But this is what my kiddos have taught me: Jesus makes absolutely all the difference. Even children grieve with hope when they know the end of the story is Jesus. The difference in the grief of children astounds me. Hope and No Hope and absolutely no in-between. It’s one or the other. They all grieve deeply. But those who know Jesus smile these radiant smiles through a grief they can barely understand but feel immensely. Oh, that they all would know Jesus! 

I am trying to confront the inner-me: the sinner-me. This is the me that refuses to open her hands and let Jesus have all the stuff I am grasping with my stubborn, curled-up, cramping fingers. I am a clinger and a grasper and I don’t want to let go of it all- at all. I know the bottom line is that I don’t trust Almighty God and, according to some of the language I have learned at my new church, this is “cosmic treason” against the King of Kings. I’m not worried about being forgiven- I know that’s done and over and complete. I am thinking, though, about what I know in my heart to be true: I am not free when I am grasping at things and refusing to open up my fists. I am still a slave and that is not God’s will for me in Christ Jesus. 

I want to be free and I want to change and I want to want Jesus more than the grasped things. I don’t want to be afraid when I walk into a room of people. I don’t want to feel inferior to the colleagues I fear. These are silly feelings that come out of the smallness of my courage and Jesus can make my courage large. I want to let him. I want him to have control, but opening my hands is almost impossible and I don’t really understand why. They are my hands and I can make them do what my mind wills and my heart desires… but I guess that is where the “slavery” comes in. This is why I can’t: I am bound to fear. But I’m not anymore!!! I’m already free!!! Jesus took care of that… so why do I still squeeze the life out of my own heart with my clinging, twisting, wringing hands? 

Is God good? 

I say yes. I believe yes. He is good.

Is he good when children die? Yes.

Is he good when children weep adult-heavy tears? Yes.

Does he ache with this aching world? Yes. 

That is why he is good. 

I’ve learned so much from dear, precious, wonderful, sweet “S.”

Radiant smiles like the one she wears belong on the faces of all the redeemed. Even our tears are cried in the joy of the knowledge that someday it will all be right. 

This is Truth.  

 

 

 

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I have been meaning to start a new blog for a long time but I never actually do it because I am terrified that it will end up being a complete waste of time and that I will end up letting it just sit there taking up a cute domain name that somebody else who might actually, well, update her blog will cry over because I took it first. And because I always, always use run-on sentences in blog posts. Oh well.

I have been thinking about several little personality flaws of mine that all really come back to one obnoxious problem. I am TOTALLY competitive and COMPLETELY judgmental. (This blog is about speaking truth, right?) For example, today I went to the grocery store to get stuff to make tacos for a dinner party. I got in my car and pulled out of the driveway and got annoyed at like every car driver around me. I am so mean (inside my head) to other drivers when they, you know, heaven forbid, drive on the same road as me. This taxi driver didn’t pull up to a red light quickly enough (not like we can go any further any faster anyway) and I start thinking, “Wow he’s slow. How can he possssssibly drive for a living. Gee what an annoying driver.KJWBFL.jbgjbWG.KJAMS VMNK;AFNW;GOKNA.Mjkaebg.” Then I go into the grocery store and do my shopping and get inwardly mad at the VERY first people to walk by me because they were walking too slowly. (Why in the world am I in such a hurry anyway? Yoga-time for Katie. Can I get an “Amen!” ??) Thennnn I finish my shopping and stand in line to check out. You know what I did? I started thinking about how I didn’t like the outfits the people in front of me were wearing. Dude, hang on a sec. I am one to talk. My style is totally quirky and weird and I bet people judge my fashion choices every day. Then, I think, “Hey, I really like the check-out chick’s tattoo. I’m going to be nice and tell her.” So I tell her. She doesn’t really respond and I start judging myself with a bunch of, “You are sooo socially awkward. Why did you think you could just tell her her tattoo is pretty. OF COURSE SHE KNOWS IT IS SHE HAD IT PERMANENTLY INKED INTO HER SKIN, YOU MORON.” Ok. If that is one grocery store trip, I am a piece of work. Oh, by the way, the tattoo chick ended up being really nice. We finally broke the ice when she asked for my birthdate and saw that we are birth year buddies. Now we’re cool.

Anyway, here’s another annoying thing about me. I get my feelings so hurt whenever anybody criticizes me or even disagrees with a decision I made. I want to be liked and I want to have everyone say nice things to me all the time and only nice things ever. But my hypocritical self is so mean to everyone… including me. I have to be the best and so I put other people down to lift myself up and when I see my own flaws so flagrantly out there for the world and me to see in neon lights, I put myself down for good measure. I am so competitive. Is it my music performance training or is it deeper? Well, how about both.

Now you probably think I’m so mean and you never want to meet me and why is her blog all girly if she’s a jerk. I really just told you all of these things to make sense of what I hope to accomplish through this blog. I really want the way I think to change. I know that my heart is where the change has to happen, so if I can speak loving truth from my heart, I will hopefully start to see my mind be renewed and lovely things will come out more often than not. Grace, man. It’s what I need always.

Anyway, this has been my heart lately: to speak beautiful truth into my life and the lives of others in word and action. To pray constantly and to live fully and to see what God might do with my hopes and dreams.

Love,

Katie