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Hope Rising

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Dear Friend,

Not long after our son, Matthew, died, I had a vision in prayer.  I don’t regularly see visions, so this was unusual.  In my mind’s eye, I pictured the Worship Center at Saddleback full of people who are living with a mental illness - depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, an eating disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia - or any other mental illness that was making life challenging. Everyone in the room was reaching out to God without having to pretend that life felt okay – some people were crying, others wrapped themselves around a large wooden cross, some were praying, some were offering hugs to others – but all felt safe to bring their pain and their sorrow to God.  Then I saw laughter – the kind of laughter that comes when others walking a similar life-path talk about the shared, common ups as well as downs, the moments of absurdity and humor in living with a mental illness. In my vision, hope began to rise.  Hope for no more isolation.  Hope for better days ahead.  Hope for relationships with others who truly “get” what it’s like to live with a mental illness. Hope for acceptance and a place to belong. Hope for today….for tomorrow. And the day after that.

As the years have gone by, this dream has remained alive in my heart. On May 19th , please join me for Hope Rising.  If you are living with anxiety, depression, or any mental illness,  I invite you to come experience community and fellowship through music, art, story, silence, laughter, prayer, listening, talking.....and lots of hugs. You are not alone!

With rising hope,

Kay

*Please note that space will be limited. This event is run by and for people living with mental illness. Please come just as you are.

REGISTER TODAY

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The New Year

The New Year is almost here. And amid all the news and entertainment personalities who chatter mindlessly about New Year’s resolutions, I wonder how many other grieving mothers are dreading the end of 2015? Call it denial or an unhealthy unwillingness to face reality, but I find myself mentally clutching at the fleeting seconds of 2015 the way my fingers grasp the sleeve of a departing friend, and plead “Don’t go! Not yet! I’m not ready for you to leave.”

It probably sounds weird and even stupid to say I’m dreading the New Year- but for many of us grieving mamas (and dads, brothers and sisters, grandparents, uncles and aunts and friends), the end of a calendar year means we have to emotionally gear up to face another year without our beloved son or daughter.

See, I survived 2015. I survived the year Matthew would have turned 30; the photo album I would have created and presented with joy never started. I survived the 3rd Christmas without his silly, loving presence opening gifts in my living room. I survived 365 more days without hearing his voice on the other end of my phone or seeing his name pop up in a text. I survived seeing his dearly loved Toyota truck parked in my driveway every day with no deafening raucous music playing. I survived all the birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, and our family vacation without him. I made it through 2015.

But starting at midnight tomorrow night, I have to start all over again. Another 365 days without Matthew. All the birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and family vacations will occur as they do every year, but they will go on without him. Another 365 days of no texts. No phone calls. No late night “Hey, Mom! Can I come over and watch a movie with you and Dad?” No outrageously inappropriate but loving greeting cards on my birthday or Mother’s Day. No “I love you, Mom.” Of course he wasn’t perfect – not even close – and in fact, mental illness brought tremendous suffering to him and our family. But he is my son. And I miss him. And to think of beginning another 365 days without him? Can I emotionally survive next year and the year after that and the year after that and all the years between now and my own death?

Those who aren’t in the middle of grief probably stopped reading after the first paragraph. That’s ok. I understand and don’t resent them. The Bible says in Romans 12:15 (NIV) says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” For any who are in a vibrant season of abundance and pleasure, I rejoice with you! Truly! I laugh with you! I cheer you on! I’m grateful for these days of strength and well-being you are experiencing. And for those of you dear ones who are mourning, I mourn with you. I ache with you as you long to hold your son or daughter one more time. I weep – sometimes quietly and sometimes till I gag – with you. I make room in my heart for your grief. As Pastor Brady Boyd says,” We have to make room for those who can’t celebrate (New Year’s).”

And yet, like the Psalmist in his laments, I must circle around to my only hope of emotional survival as I finish 2015 and begin 2016. Rev. 21:3-5 (MSG) promises, “'Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good – tears gone, crying gone, pain gone – all the first order of things gone.’ The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new.’”

One calendar day – God knows when – everything painful and broken will end. The countless tears spilled through the millennia, the innumerable deaths, and the immeasurable pain human beings have endured will finally reach their limit. They will end. The God who “moved into the neighborhood and made his home with us” will make EVERYTHING new. Because of that, I will survive every calendar page allotted to me until calendar pages themselves are gone and I find myself in that place of never-ending newness. Grieving friends, hold on. What we long for is coming...

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