Just over a week ago I had the honor of attending the funeral service for a precious little boy, BJ. And it is a funeral that impacted me in a way I will never forget.
You see, this time of year is hard for me. It is in these first few months of the year that we pass over difficult things like what would be my sister's birthday, the date of my sister's passing, as well as the date of my Mama's passing, which obviously spark some deep feelings of sorrow.
This time of year we also pass over some exciting moments, like Elia's volleyball tournaments, Noah's piano recitals, and both her kids and mine competing in the annual Fine Arts competition, which spark feelings of joy and excitement yes but also a deep level of sorrow as these big life moments also serve as a nagging reminder that my sister isn't here to see them excell, to celebrate with them, and to spoil them with her special auntie gifts.
And for this non emotional girl who is terrible at dealing with her emotions and absolutely HATES to cry, that swirling storm of feelings (the good ones and the bad ones) can seem almost unbearable at times - pushing me into default mode which, for me, means choosing to push ALL of the feels deep down, ensuring they remain hidden and, unfortunately, also undealt with.
So what does all of this have to do with BJ's Funeral? Well, as I sat in the reception room with family, waiting to enter the service, the Pastor presiding over the funeral came in to pray with us and in that prayer for strength and peace and said six little words that hit me hard..."And Lord, help us to feel." 😳 I almost lost it then and there but thankfully (for me anyway) I was able to suck those tears back in (IYKYK 🤣) and tuck those words away so I could process them privately - just me and Jesus - at a later time. And deal with them is absolutely what I have been doing for the past 9 days.
"Lord, help us to feel."
Such simple and yet such powerful words. Words I had never even THOUGHT let alone PRAYED! I've prayed for physical and spiritual strength. I've prayed for peace and wisdom. I've prayed for health and healing. But I have absolutely NEVER prayed to FEEL! In fact, I've probably prayed prayers with the sole goal of AVOIDING that whole "feeling" thing.
So what does it even mean to "feel"? According to dictionary.com to "feel" means "to experience". That means that by praying "Lord, help us feel" we are actually praying "Lord, help us to experience". Help us to experience the sorrow. Help us to experience the pain. Help us to experience the brokenness and hurt that we so desperately want to keep buried and hidden.
I don't know about you but that doesn't sound like a prayer I want to pray; yet I know it's a prayer I SHOULD pray! Why? Because when we bury the hurt, when we refuse to feel, we also close the door on the Lord being able to HEAL! And without that healing the Lord also can never begin the work to make us whole in Him once again.
So now I'm on a new journey. A journey I've avoided my entire life. A deep and difficult journey walked out in the Word and on my knees as I dig up all that I have buried and placing it bit by bit at the feet of Jesus as I continue to pray "Lord, help me to feel!"
BJ was a (and is) a warrior. He had many physical and medical limitations but this little guy, who was not expected to live longer than a few months, fought hard, proved those doctors wrong, and graced us all with his presence for 10 whole years. To say he amazed and inspired me would be an understatement. So it should have been no surprise to me that I would once again be challenged and inspired while sitting with family celebrating his beautiful life.