On death, and fear, and a portion of hope.

Without being there, I could feel it – The room is tense with silence. Eyes sting from constant outpouring. Embrace is empty, achy, heavy.

Today a friend lost his mother to cancer.

What do you do with that? How can you make any sense of it?

Death is hard. Death is so hard. In an instant, your world is completely tossed around and you can’t breathe, but you want to, but you can’t.

But you want to.

I really struggle with just the idea of death. From very early on, I’ve had way too vivid an imagination of how loved ones would part and what would be left of me after. Honestly, I wondered (and still do) if I would be okay.

I fear. I fear hard, sometimes.

I try to find some sort of thing to hold on to that will keep me full of courage, constantly ready for a dynamic shift in my life. I want to be prepared. I want to see it coming. And if I didn’t see it coming, I want to know I’ll handle it well.

But that’s the mess and the beauty of it all – there is no handling it well. There is just angst and confusion and vomit and pain. And that is okay. That is okay.

Somewhere inside my anxiety of death, there is this portion – the kind of portion that expands your lungs with oxygen and lifts your chest. Something that calls out saying, “It doesn’t win. There’s something greater.”

There is this pounding, this racing, this wrestling of love trying to burst through our fears. God pushes this hope through my anxious heart, and reminds me that fear does not equal love. No. Instead, love drives out fear.

So I allow love to sink in. And in return, pour out. That’s all I can do with fear. That’s my only response. That this Love is the hope that keeps me moving forward. I am not bound by fear. I am freed by Love. And with that, I’m freed to hope. And freed to rest.

I love how The Message puts this portion of scripture:

“There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.” (1 John 4:18)

There has got to be something bigger than all of this. A reason to keep holding on. Do you feel it? Do you feel something small and big resonating in your chest somewhere? That death is not the end? That life has purpose – even beyond the reality that we know?

I can’t imagine the pain our friend and his family must be feeling. Not much can soothe the ache on their spirits right now. But I do know this one thing – this I’m gaining confidence in:

As David Crowder wrote regarding death, “It is not the end. It is the beginning…”

Maybe he’s right.

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