I had no plans to write this story today. None. However, sometimes the words in your soul are palpitating against your skin and they must come out to breathe the cool air of release.
Words hold such power. If we truly could see the healing or damage they do, we would probably never utter another solitary word without deep consideration.
I pray these words bring healing to those hurting, grieving, and broken.
On February 6th of this year, Lem and I went furniture shopping at a place in Atlanta called The Dump. Sounds lovely, right?
It's a HUGE place. Furniture everywhere. I mean, everywhere.
A little overwhelming for this small town girl to be honest.
We were walking around for a few minutes when I noticed a sweet family sitting on some sectional couches. I had to do a double-take because they looked so familiar. Without trying to look stalky, I looked each face over intently. I could not place how I knew them. Something though, was beckoning me to keep watching them.
Really, I am not this strange usually. I promise.
As Lem and I kept looking over all of the furniture, I kept glancing over my shoulder at this family. What was it about them that was drawing my eyes to them? Why was I so fascinated with these people?
Lem dragged me by the arm and pulled me off into another direction. He's kinda used to my weirdness.
About 30 minutes later, I saw the mother of that family on a sectional by herself. It was the same one my husband and I were looking at. I went and sat next to her.
Who am I, and why am I acting so crazy? I don't usually go and sit next to a perfect stranger as they are testing out a couch. I promise.
We quickly started chatting, and chatting, and chatting. I was so drawn to talk to her, to listen to her, and to know about her precious family.
Honestly, I don't remember much about the entirety of our conversation, but I vividly remember the end of it.
As we got off of the couch and said goodbye to each other, I casually asked her how old her children were.
She told me their names and ages, and ended with, "And we have a 17 year old that passed away in December."
I thought maybe I misunderstood her for a moment. But, the look on her beautiful face told me otherwise.
She went on to tell me small details about what had happened to her son.
It was a tragedy. A crime. A murder.
With tears spilling down my face, I grabbed her and wrapped my helpless arms around her.
How in the world had she been able to casually talk to me on that couch? How as she able to get out of bed that day, or any day for that matter? How in the world could she look that peaceful and beautiful in the midst of such horror?
Immediately, I pulled back from her and looked at her face again.
"You are a believer, aren't you," I asked her.
I knew what her answer would be before I asked her.
"Yes, I am."
She went on to tell me how God had been so gracious to her and how her church family, family members and friends had been a life-line for her and her family. She said they could not make it through without them.
I just sat there slack-jawed. Taking in the sight of this providential moment.
After saying our final goodbyes and assuring her I would pray for her family, Lem and I got to the car and I cried my eyes out.
I had left a piece of my heart right there near that leather sectional we were sitting on.
I had just witnessed the Peace and Love of Christ like never before. It was all over my new friend's face. In her mannerisms. In her voice. In her stillness.
I had just seen Jesus.
God had drawn my eyes to her from the moment we walked in and would not let me leave without talking to her. He knew I needed to know her story, and He knew what it would do to my soul.
As a mother, when we hear of these kinds of tragedies, our blood runs cold. We stop breathing for a moment and picture ourselves in their shoes.
Empathy sets in and we cannot shake it without drenching it with prayer.
She has been on my heart heavy ever since.
As I picture the scene in my mind of Jesus on the cross, I see my friend's teenage son. I see the injustice. I see the horror. I see the inhumane tragedy of a life cut too short.
As I picture Jesus's mother, Mary, at the foot of the cross, I picture my friend's face.
She has walked in Mary's shoes. She is walking in Mary's shoes.
Daily. Hourly. Minute by minute.
My friend has had to walk through her own child being taken by the hands of evil.
Yet, she is able to have Peace. To have Comfort. To have Assurance...
This is not the end.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. Revelation 21:4
And, just like Mary, she will see her boy again. It will be sweet and it will be eternal. And, in the meantime, the impact of her life and the story of her son will draw many to the Cross. Even at a place called the Dump.
Isn't God just like that.
Making a place called The Dump, a place of Holy Ground.
Sunday is coming,