Growing up, my father was the king of saying what no one else said. When we would leave each other for a trip, or even just a day of school, he would often say something like, You never know what can happen in life. Basically, he would tell us that if something happened to him or us, we’d see each other in Heaven. He wasn’t afraid to say what’s true: we never know how many moments we’re going to be given on this earth. I always took comfort in knowing that he loved me and I loved him. He was the first person to talk openly in my life about the fact that we are all going to die.
Typing that makes me wince. It feels like a morbid statement, doesn’t it? But it’s true. I’ve heard two Christian pastors say that same thing, and it’s always stuck in my mind. My pastor, whom I talked about in Just Show Up, said this in a sermon many years before his ALS diagnosis: The stats are in—one out of every one people die.
When I got to talk to Pastor Leon on The LEON Show, he also mentioned the fact that we are all, at some point, going to leave this earth.
Did you see how I rewrote that? Talking about dying isn’t even something I want to type over and over again.
When Kara’s diagnosis became terminal, I struggled. I wanted to avoid conversations about her dying and a future without her. They were not easy for me, and I lived in denial for quite a while. But there came a moment when I realized denying meant I was missing out on conversations that Kara wanted to happen. How could I do that? And so I changed. I accepted that barring a miracle, Kara was going to pass away from cancer. I stopped hiding.
What do we do in a world and culture that doesn't want to talk about dying? I think we need to be gentle with each other. Not everyone is Kara. Not everyone is that open. Someone recently asked me how to be there for someone who is dying if they don't want to talk about it. I remember saying maybe they do want to talk about it but they're just afraid no one wants to talk to them or listen. We don't really know someone's heart until we ask them. And we can be gentle in our asking. We can give them an out if they don't want to talk about something, but we can also offer to listen when it's quite possible no one else wants to have that conversation with them.
I have noticed a trend in the Mundane Faithfulness Community. There are a number of suffering people in that group who are willing to talk about things that many people aren’t. There is a safety in that community. Recently one woman went from fighting cancer to hospice care. She made the announcement in the group was met with such gentleness that it brought me to tears. There was no judging. There was no panic. There was only love and support and prayer that her journey from her earthly home to her heavenly one would be peaceful. And that is beautiful.
I do not like to talk about death. I do not like conversations about dying because it makes it too real. It reminds me that the stats are in and we're all going at some point. I don't know what I would do with that thought if I didn't have the hope of Heaven. Sometimes I think about my faith. The fact that I believe in a God who has always existed. Who created this earth. Who loves us so much that He gave up His own son to atone for our sins. Sometimes that story sounds crazy. But then, I know I know I know in my heart that it is true. That HE is true.
I grew up a Christian. I don’t remember a moment of not knowing Jesus. I don’t say that in a bragging way. Actually, sometimes it makes me hesitant to share my faith, like maybe because I don’t know what life is like without Him, I don’t realize how many people would like to know Him. The culture tells me that to talk about Him means I’m pushing God on someone. Culture tells me to sit quietly with my faith. To not talk about dying.
But I’m done with culture. I’m done with being politically correct.
I imagine that out of the thousands of eyes that read this blog, there is at least one person who wants to know who this God is. The God who Kara claimed was good even when the world says He’s not. The God who shows up, day after day, in our suffering. The God who reminds us that this shattered, broken earth was never His plan. He created us for more than this.
God so loved the world, that He gave His only son. HIS ONLY SON died on a cross, took our sins upon His back, and suffered for them. And then the story changes. Then He rose up. He conquered. The price was paid for me and you. We can’t earn that kind of love. That’s grace. Completely undeserved grace. And now, if we believe, we have victory.
It is that simple. He is that true.
If you’ve never believed before, if you’ve scoffed and wondered, if you have a hole in your heart that nothing fills, I invite you to whisper three words. Okay, I believe. I’m going to try this faith thing. If you're wondering if He can be real, then ask Him to show you that He is. Don't be afraid of dying or talking about it because you have an option to really live. You have the chance at forever. Take it.
Jill Lynn Buteyn is a co-author of Just Show Up with Kara Tippetts, and the author of the inspirational romance novel, Falling for Texas (as Jill Lynn). She is a guest contributor at MundaneFaithfulness.com and can also be found online at Jill-Lynn.com.