It is when we reach the other side of Nashville on I-40 that I get the call: The Brookin’s girl was in an accident and is paralyzed from the neck down.
She is only 16. Lying in a hospital bed at the Med, spinal cord broken, unable to move.
“She’d gotten in the car with a drunk friend,” the message was relayed.
“The friend came away with a broken foot. Emily? Well…” the voice faded, then came back. “Evidently, she’d gone wild, after her mom up and went crazy a few years back.”
I knew the Brookin family, not well, but still they had come out on a short term mission trip to our city 5 or so years ago. They had seemed on fire for the Lord, excited to follow Him in even the unsafe ways He sometimes leads us in.
But then they returned home and Mrs. Brookin wasn’t so content with her life anymore. A mom of 4 little ones, going a little stir crazy, ready to go a little wild herself from the monotony, the mundane demands of motherhood.
She up and left one day. Vanished. Disappeared for two weeks while no one knew a thing.
Ended up leaving her family, living in isolation, never really a part of anything or anyone anymore. “She’s never been able to be there for her kids,” the voice on the other end of the line told me.
And I weep. I weep for a 16 year old girl with a broken neck… and a mom lost at sea who receives much less grace from Christians than her daughter will.
Yes, I weep.
During the night, I toss and turn, grieving for the lives of others. Grieving for what could have been. The story I’ve been privy to is a warning to me, because I know there is not one of us beyond it’s reality. Pride goes before a fall, and I’ve had my falls. From the Brookin’s ongoing story, I fear. I fear sin and it’s consequences, the pricetag is way, way too high.
And all through the night, I wake to this refrain: “Live Loved!”
I see in the Brookin’s family the price tag for living un-loved, un-forgiven, un-receiving of the grace given. I see the high cost of living discontented and refusing to submit to God’s loving, sovereign hand in every day life. And I know this: there is a high, high price for me, my family, and the impact I make in ministry and community when I refuse to embrace all sufficient grace and give in to murmuring, complaining, controlling, resenting instead.
The Bible tells me I am to “Put off” those things, things like anger, bitterness, malice, resentment.
When I don’t, I take a gamble with my life and my future. Only it’s a gamble I can’t win, guaranteed.
If I’m going to allow motherhood to make me, I’ve got to live loved… every minute, every second. When the serpent slithers in and says, “You could be…” and “But what about …” I have a choice to make. I can listen and join in his little emotional tirade, or I can flat out refuse and instead believe that I am “Dearly loved.” Regardless.
Whether I’m changing a dirty diaper or running the kid rodeo at dinner time or trying to quiet a squabble, SO MUCH is riding on whether or not I live loved, receive grace, say “Yes, Lord.”
Fortunately, the Brookin’s story is not over.
Emily could have been killed, but she wasn’t.
Mrs. Brookin’s could have disappeared forever but she hasn’t.
And God could have given up on us all, but He didn’t.
So we can live loved. And we can start NOW.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen woman, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. And over all these virtues, put on love.” Colossians 3:12, 14
Challenge for us this week: Set aside the thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, and emotions of anger, bitterness, resentment, and negative speech. Take up the love, kindness, compassion, gentleness, and patience that Christ has towards you and wrap yourself in them like a garment. Sure, it takes practice! But we are in this together and the more we practice, the better we get. So go, girl!
Related post/activity: Quiet Hearts Board Game (a calming, connecting activity to do with your children)