Our church has been through a tremendous amount of grief lately. With the deaths of Bill Mendoza and Barbara Pine we have lost two “pillars” of the church, one in the prime of life, and the other taking with her the legacy and memories of countless numbers. Even if you did not know Bill or Barbara well, if you are involved in the church at all, you are feeling the grief.
Grief is God’s way of venting the pain of loss. When we lose someone we know and love, it hurts. That pain must be dealt with, or else it could kill us. Healing begins when grieving begins. At first, of course, we are in shock and feel nothing. But as the truth of our loss seeps in, our bodies and our hearts begin to grieve. It used to be believed that you make it through a loss by NOT crying or showing other forms of emotion. But that is simply not true. In fact, to shut down our emotions (in an effort to protect ourselves from too much grief) will only serve to exacerbate the problem. Emotions that are shoved down and hidden away will always come back strike more ferociously and unhealthy later on.
One of the best things we as a church family can do during times like these is to give permission to (and even encourage) each other to grieve, and grieve well. And that means to allow for tears, anger, disbelief, and more tears. This congregation is good at allowing these things, so I’m only saying this as a reminder.
God gives us other people to help make us better people. He puts people in our lives who will influence us and challenge us. The best thing we can do is consider what gifts Bill and Barbara (and anyone else who has passed) had that touched us and made us want to be better people. What was it about their faith, their character, their essence that reminded us of Jesus? Identify those things, hold on to them, and pray for God to make you more like them. Remember, the goal of Christian discipleship is to become more and more like Jesus. Bill was like Jesus; Barbara was like Jesus. Find what it is about them that was like Jesus, and embrace it.
And when you miss them, and the emotions well up inside you, it is good to cry.