Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Body of Christ

We have the greatest support in the entire world.  Really, I’m not biased I’m just stating the facts.  We really do have the greatest family and friends in this entire world.  We have been blessed beyond what we deserve.  My friends and family’s crowns in heaven will be so heavy from all the jewels and medallions on it.  People will ask them “how did you get so many jewels on your crown?” They will answer “I was friends with Kory and Ali and well, between you and me, they needed a lot of help, so they kept me busy on earth and I guess the Lord decided to give me all these jewels!”

For real.  My jaw drops open everyday in awe of people who continue to wrap their arms around us and pour their love and support onto us.  It’s been tangible ways, their time, acts of service, words of encouragement, meals, quality time, helping with Avery, cards, letters, gifts, hugs, listening, crying with the, giving us grace, loving on us…there’s been so much.  I would be sinning if I didn’t give high props to the beautiful body of Christ in this hard time.  The body of Christ has functioned SO beautifully and wonderfully on display for us to see and experience this month.  It’s been a breath-taking, refreshing, awe-inspiring sight to behold.

During this time, most of my closest friends have been pregnant as well.  We were excited to have kids weeks apart, guessing if they would be the same gender and be best friends, or opposite genders and marry each other (well, we didn’t say that for the cousins).   When I was still in shock after we found out about Karis’s diagnosis, I remember being very scared for these relationships.  How would we still function?  How would I handle their joy and my pain?  The Lord has been so gracious to me in the way my friends and I have been able to walk this road together as the body of Christ. 

A couple weeks ago we had some of our very close friends bring us dinner.  We were sitting in the living room and the way the conversation was going, I had to ask.  “Are you guys pregnant?”  Their response was interesting to me.  They both kind of looked at the ground and quietly and gently said “yea,” as if they were apologizing instead of telling us they were pregnant.  “That’s awesome!” I said, and I really meant it.  But I totally understand why they responded the way they did.  I remember being in their shoes 2 years prior.  We were sitting across the table from them, telling them we were pregnant with Avery and they were in the midst of infertility struggles.  I felt the same way- guilty.  My joy was their pain and I hated that.  For the person that’s pregnant- it’s hard to really be joyful when you know it’s hurting your friend.  And for the person that wishes they were pregnant- you don’t want it to be painful, you wish you could tough it out, but it’s really hard.

As they sat there, looking at my living room floor, feeling bad about the greatest gift given to them, I thought to myself- this is friendship.  Sharing joy and sharing pain, at the same exact time.  We, together, give God praise and celebrate the gift of a child he has given them, and without missing a beat we cry and mourn over the loss of our child.  Grief and joy were dancing together in the midst of our friendships.
Two days after we buried Karis one of our best couple friends delivered their precious baby girl and we went to see her at the hospital.  I didn’t feel like I had to go, I knew my state of mind, I wasn’t going to let myself have a breakdown in the hospital room.  I wanted to go.  I want to share in their joy.  Their daughter is a beautiful life to be celebrated.  She is my gain as well. Kory and I will help raise this little girl too.  That’s what friends do.  She matters to us, we love her.  Of course she reminds us of what we’ve lost, but she also reminds us of God’s miracles. 

As we shared labor stories, I didn’t go back to six days ago, delivering a lifeless baby, I went back to 2 years ago, delivering Avery girl.  That helped.  But what helped the most is our amazing friends.  They weren’t just “sensitive” to our pain and tip-toed around what they said, they felt our pain with us.  Our pain was apart of them.  It wasn’t just our experience that made them sad.  It was a part of their experience as well, because they loved Karis.  They lost when we lost.  That’s exactly what Kory and I felt about their daughter.  Their joy of this new life was apart of us.  She was a gift to us as well.  We weren’t just happy for our friends, we were happy for us- what a beautiful baby girl we’ve gained that is now apart of our lives.  That’s the beauty of friendship within the body of Christ.   You share in each other’s pains.  You share in each other joys.  You both gain.  You both lose.  It’s done together.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”  Romans 12:15

I will never forget, Kyle sharing with us one night after we found out Karis had passed.  He shared that he wasn’t just grieving on behalf of us losing our daughter, he was grieving that he lost his niece. She was his niece.  She wasn’t just ours.  She was his too. Karis was his son or daughter’s cousin.  Shared pain.  But on the day when their child is born, we will share the joy.  Why?  Because that will be our niece or nephew.  Ours.  Shared joy.

Things change when you allow other’s situations to become apart of you and your situations.  When it’s not just something you support them in but it’s something that you carry and share together.  That’s powerful.  That’s healing.  That cuts through feelings of jealousy.  That rips through bitterness.  Pain and joy are shared.

I had two conversations with two dear friends, one who is due 3 weeks before Karis was, and one who I just found out she is pregnant a few days ago. We made a pact with each other.  Our pact was that we will not hold back from one another.  We will be real.  I don’t have to be happy all the time and fake my way through our conversations, ignoring the times when I’m struggling.  And they don’t have to be sad about their joy.  They can be honest on the days when it’s hard to be pregnant because they are sick.  And they can be honest about the excitement pregnancy brings.  It will work as long as we keep sharing each other’s pains and joys.  If I continue to realize their new child is a gain to myself and my family and they still realize that Karis is a loss to them and their family, we can walk more closely in our friendship.  That’s how friendship has to work.  We made this pact with each other because we need each other.  I need a piece of joy in the midst of my grief.  They need a piece of brokenness to keep eternal perspective in the midst of joy.  We need each other.  The body of Christ needs each other. 

What a beautiful picture we give of Christ as we function this way.  Strapping on each other’s burden’s and saying “let me feel the weight of this load you are carrying.”  “Let me feel the joy you feel as you experience this wonderful gift.”  Unity.  It’s a beautifully healing thing when we experience it.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”  Galatians 6:2

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