Monday, March 16, 2015

Sometimes Even An Empty Chair Is A Challenge

When it first happened, life blurred like hitting fast-forward on an old video tape. Get up, brush teeth, make coffee, fumble around, lay down, it's night. Doesn't mean sleep. Insert crying at every pause. Rewind. Repeat. Insert funeral. Hello, good-bye, kiss kiss. Insert memorial service. Rewind. Repeat.

The phone rang incessantly, a wagon train of food--sandwiches, chicken, lasagne, roast beef, casseroles, tossed salad, pasta salad, potato salad, casseroles, brownies, cookies, pies, casseroles, donuts, cakes, breads, and more casseroles rolled in through the front door.

The family descended from the four corners of the earth, I think they took over a hotel. I don't remember exactly. My living room was stuffed with them before the funeral, bodies pressed in, and I liked that. I felt like I was a patient in an emergency room, eyes open but paralyzed--poked, prodded, loved on. "She'll live," I heard them tell my broken heart through tears of their own.

And then it was over. Everyone had to go home. It was me, Brad and Lisa.

We picked over the leftover food until it finally had to be thrown out. Eating wasn't very interesting. When the kids got hungry I handed them a few dollars. Lisa could drive to Wendys or McDonalds. She didn't mind.

But one day I made supper. Put the plates on the table. We sat down.

We weren't prepared for that empty chair. It sat there cold and hard. We suddenly lost our appetites after a forkful or two, cleared the table and went off to other things. No amount of beautiful table settings, gracious dinner music or gourmet cooking ever warmed it up. I tried to imagine God as our unseen guest, but my imagination wasn't that good.

Man, that was hard! That simple, stupid empty chair. An inanimate object I couldn't avoid or get around.

Did you have obstacles like that in your journey through grief? Maybe for you it was a family picture, coming home to an empty house, trying to sleep in an empty bed, visiting your husband's family or even going to church?

Lets talk about it. How did you deal with these painful reminders in your life? If you got over them, how you do it? Your comments will be life-giving encouragement to us all.

For me, that empty chair had to be filled with guests. That was hard to do, especially with the crazy schedules people keep--families seldom eat together anyway. But I enjoyed having dinner guests and I learned that God commanded us to practice hospitality as much for our own sake as for another's. If we didn't have guests, I relaxed the standard of us all having dinner together. I went more casual and we ate at the smaller table in the kitchen or took our plates in front of the tv. Instead of butting my head and heart against the immovable chair, I opted for change.

Hang on to this roller coaster ride through grief, my sister! With God, good things can still happen, and opting for change can help.

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