Platitudes and Attitudes


Every so often I have an absolutely horrible, no-good, all the world is crummy, kind-of-day. The kind that forces me out of bed but leaves me stranded in the middle of my bedroom floor not knowing what to do next. Or I find myself talking with someone on the phone and simply want to scream, “YOU ARE SUCH AN IDIOT!” because the person has just offered another platitude (trite or banal remark or statement, especially one expressed as if it were original or significant) towards my grief. That happened to me again today.

(If you think you might be offended by my honesty in sharing these thoughts, please move on now. I do not want to offend, hurt, or insult anyone who cares enough about us that you have taken the time to read our messages or lift up prayers for us. I simply want to share the truth of our grief so that someone, maybe even you, will be comforted.)

Simply put, God did not, nor does he, need more angels in heaven! You see, God is bigger than that. The God I know, the Creator of all things in heaven and on earth and below the earth, does not “need” to allow Matthew, my son, to get cancer, to endure all types of medical treatments with vain effects, to then die.

The God I know, the Creator of all things in heaven and on earth and below the earth, does not “need” to have his brother and sister and father and mother watch his body turn yellow from the jaundice of his liver and struggle for every breath, and then die.

The God I know, the Creator of all things in heaven and on earth and below the earth, does not “need” to have two loving parents struggle to keep their marriage together when the world has fallen apart in front of them and they don’t know which way to turn, or a brother and sister struggle with a lifetime of guilt and doubt and remorse and pain.

The God I know, the Creator of all things in heaven and on earth and below the earth, does not “need” to have people grieving the death of the ones they love.

So, don’t tell me God needed an angel and that is why my son is dead because my God is bigger than that.

My God is big enough to take the memory of the suffering of someone who was, and still is, deeply loved, and turn that memory into compassion and action for someone else’s suffering. My God is big enough to take a marriage that was sometimes half-hearted and turn it into an example of true selflessness and complete commitment and loving devotion. My God is big enough to shape a young person’s doubts and questions for the meaning of life into purpose and strength for life’s journey.

My God is big enough to take the tragedy of a child’s death and give purpose to the lives of those who loved him most. Matthew, May 2006

You see, God has already taken the broken pieces and the broken people of this world and promised us restoration. So, where to go from here? It is the question I am asking myself today just as I have done many days since Matthews death. Nothing much has changed … except, today the water isn’t as muddy as it has been.

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.” – Isaiah 61: 1-3

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7 thoughts on “Platitudes and Attitudes

  1. I only recently became aware of your loss and hadn’t yet said anything because I did not know what to say. I read your blog post and just wanted to let you know that I am sorry for your loss. My memories of Matthew are of when he was young and I always smile when I think of him. You and your family have always been special to my Mom and I and I have often thought of you all. Seeing my Mom loose her parents my grandparents I know that this is not an easy thing, so to you I say thank you for having the courage to share your feelings and know that there are those who are praying for you and thinking of you.

    • Tina,
      I tried to find a way to tell you & your mom about Matthew, but the words just haven’t been able to form in my head. Your mom meant so much to us for those first few years of Matt’s life and you were so special to us also, we felt like you all became a part of our family.
      Thanks for your thoughts and prayers ~

  2. I think you summed it up very well. I absolutely do not know how you feel. People don’t realize how much well meaning comments can hurt until they are on the receiving end. The only thing I would begin to say is “I’m sorry.”

  3. Your God is big. Your hurt is big. Your heart is big. Your frankness is big. You are precious in His sight and in mine.

  4. Thank you for sharing this. I know that the platitudes and cliches can get old, but I didn’t know that until somebody told me it several years ago. It’s good for you and for others who have lost someone they love to remind us of this fact; for many of us, it could be the first time we’ve ever heard it and allows us to be more sensitive. I suppose that’s kinda up there with “I know how you feel” when there’s absolutely no way they could have. I think you expressed your feelings beautifully and with eloquence and honor. Thanks, again for sharing with us, I still remember Matthew frequently. God bless you and your hubby and the kids.

  5. I’m so sorry for your grief. I didn’t know you lost a son. It sounds like it was recently, too. I agree with you about platitudes, as if same some pithy little phrase is going to make it all better. Usually, all I do is give a hug and listen, so … here’s your hug: (((Pat))) and please call me any time you wish to talk.

    Sally

    • Matthew died on June 16, 2006. It was the day I was assigned to my first church and the day he was scheduled for a bone marrow transplant. Thank you for your note …

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