I am running away from the Lord, but I’m not reckless. I first put on my harness and hook myself to a resistance band. I’m sprinting hard and fast in one direction with it attached to my back, but I know I don’t have an endless amount of slack. I’m already starting to feel the tugs to snap me back. But for now, I want to keep running. Why? Well I know if I stop running, and walk back to the Lord, He might actually make me feel better, and I don’t think that is what I want right now.
I want Ra’Shaud. Here on Earth in the flesh.
The heaviness of grief I’m carrying feels like the ultimate badge of love. My love for Ra’Shaud will never stop. But who am I without the heaviness of it all? Who am I anyways?
In the days after Ra’Shaud died, my eyes scanned the curly q’s and pretty typography on all the cards I’ve been sent. I have to tell you though, I felt the most supported from the ones that simply read “this sucks,” “this isn’t fair,” “I’m pissed for you.”
I felt the love from each and every card, but the many bible verses that graced those cards do not serve as encouragement, at least they don’t right now. Pretty words on a drugstore card are not going to bring Ra’Shaud back. In the same way, words formed into prayers aren’t going to bring him back either.
“All things work together for good, for those who love Him????????” (Romans 8:28)
“I hope you feel a peace that transcends all understanding?????????” (Philippians 4:7)
Peace? My favorite person in the whole entire world is gone and you’re hoping I feel peace. Me? I feel rage.
Rage that Ra’Shaud was ripped from my life 60 years too early. Rage that we don’t have little Charlotte Marceaux Graham and Beaux Reggie Graham running around our house with more on the way. Rage that we don’t get to do the mundane together, like walk the aisles of Lowe’s in search of a ceiling fan that I like and he agrees to. “If you like it, I love it” he would say.
Rage. Rage. Rage.
There is something about “cultural Christianity” and “toxic positivity” that go hand in hand. We hop, skip, and jump to the overcomer and redeemer story before we allow the suffering and the lament. We glamorize the success story but don’t talk about the grief story. I am suffering and I don’t feel the need to whisper about it. IT IS NOT WELL WITH MY SOUL.
“I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief” C.S. Lewis says in A Grief Observed. Thinking about the immensity of time there is between now and seeing Ra’Shaud again feels almost too much to bear at times.
In the best Christian lingo I’ve got, we need to be better at making room for those of us in the cave of darkness. The discomfort you feel observing suffering is not an excuse to try to fix the sufferer so that you can feel at ease again. You cannot tie up my grief in a pretty little box. It won’t fit.
Yes, I believe Jesus is Lord. My faith is still there. It has to be. If Ra’Shaud is in Heaven, then I have to believe, to ensure I’m there to run into his arms when the time comes.
The years of church, and rhythms of my former life have engrained in me a habit of prayer. Currently, in my strongest moments of defiance, I still find myself whispering prayers over ordinary inconveniences.
“Lord, I pray the carpet cleaner man who was just here doesn’t have his day ruined by the buckets of rain you’re sending down while he works through his 12 clients today.”
“Lord, I pray that the reason my engine light is on is not an expensive fix.”
Saying these “whisper prayers” are like second nature, they just come naturally. I pause mid thought and think to myself “wait, are we talking to Him yet?” Sometimes, I let my mind drift off and sometimes I “complete” the prayer. The point being that the rhythm and ritual of prayer in my former life is still present in the worst of times and I hope these ordinary prayers will slowly sound like extraordinary ones. They have to.
Trust me, I know I can’t run forever. When I am ready, I will situate my body in the holy posture, the one Ra’Shaud prayed in each night, and the Lord will hear my rage, I will slam it all at the feet of Jesus and I know He’ll be ready.
“ Talk to me about the truth of religion and I’ll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I’ll listen submissively. But don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t understand.” C.S. Lewis