My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future - thoughts about Whitney's Home Going Service

I have a very deep blog entry lurking in my head but first I want to tell you that I have a massive zit coming up on the right side of my nose and it feels like it's taking over my whole face.

I also need to tell you that I ate an eggo waffle for breakfast. We made a grocery run yesterday and I bought some yogurt but I wanted an eggo. (wonder why I'm gaining weight? it's not just the meds.)

I also want to mention that the new Dairy Queen has opened in town which means that we no longer have to do what Austin and I refer to as "the walk of shame"... We had a walk up DQ... so you had to park, walk to the DQ and stand there on the main drag through town, ten feet away from the road, waiting to get your high calorie treat. Our plan today is to drive thru and get the biggest, most unhealthy, ooeyist, gooeyist DQ treat in the privacy of our car.

AND we now have a Western Sizzlin' that has opened up right near us. Matter of fact... it's in between Cleveland and Helen, just like we are... so if you don't count Wendells (which we never go to because Janie, who lives upstairs, works there and Austin and Janie have an extreme dislike for each other, even though I find her adorable and charming... but Austin is pretty weird about those things so we never eat at Wendells) If you don't count Wendall's, the Western Sizzlin' is the closest eating place to us, geographically. We went there yesterday at 4pm. Yes, the Senior Citizen time... I just knew I wouldn't want to wait and even then, at 4pm, even though it's off-season, the parking lot was almost full. I betcha, around 1pm today, after churches let out, that place is gonna be HOPPIN'!

Yes. Our little corner of the world is movin' right along. Still no Chickfila, despite two different false alarms that we were getting one. And I have to pay extra to get the Atlanta Sunday paper. But it's still the best place I've ever lived and I pray that the Lord will never move me from this place. Not this apartment, necessarily... but this town.

At any rate. What I really wanted to blog about today was Whitney Houston's funeral. I was pretty negative about her on my RTLM Blog this week... calling her a "Hot Mess".  It takes one to know one, I have to admit. I watched the funeral yesterday, almost the entire four hours... not because I am or ever was a huge Whitney fan. I've never been big into popular music... Country, Contemporary Christian and Showtunes are my preferences (not in that order). I watched it because it was the most uplifting and encouraging event that has happened in my life in a very long time.

I struggle. Y'all know that. I whine every day and God bless y'all... you keep coming here anyways, maybe skipping over the whiny parts to get to the heart of what I say and either way, I thank you. There are a lot of struggles that I'm not really at liberty to discuss. My goal is to tell my story without embarrassing anyone else or putting my job in jeopardy or hurting friends or family. I don't always maintain those boundaries as well as I should but the truth is... there are some deep, dark caverns in my life at times that I can't even begin to blog about.

So when Tyler Perry in his remarks at Whitney's Home Going service talked about having the opportunity to sit down with Whitney while she shared her story with him... and every time she would talk about her own deep, dark caverns she would say, "but Jesus..." and "oh, but my Lord..." and she ... in her times of desperation and depravity STILL felt the love of God... I felt like Tyler was talking about me. That's MY testimony! "She had a grace that carried her through"... he said and yes. I lifted my hands up in praise and shouted. I did. I had to. That grace that covered her... it's the same grace that covers me.

And over the course of those hours... as many people shared... I grew closer and closer to Whitney. I've never used drugs... never faced addiction... apart from the pharmaceuticals that keep the blood pressure down and the inflammation down in my back so that I can work and function and the muscle relaxers that keep my back from going into spasms and the xanax I had to use to stay numb from that tragic second marriage of mine and so forth. I haven't been through what she's been through but yet, really, I know where Whitney's been.

It was captured beautifully in song and scripture and speeches and I wouldn't want to leave anything out but there's no way I can make my experience, what those four hours did for me spiritually and emotionally... there's no way that I can articulate it in a way that it reaches you unless you have been there too. You know how I talk about how "our worst thing" is relative to your own experience... while my "worst thing" may be my back pain... there's someone out there, like Cissy Houston, who is burying her child. On the scale of suffering... she wins... but my worst thing is still... mine. I hope that makes sense.

Our spiritual journey is like that too. Even if you're atheist or agnostic or "Pasta-farian" ... wherever you stand with our Creator... you make a conscious decision every day about what He (or he) (or it) (or nothing) (whichever way you're going) means to you. You choose your path, you make your own way in your spiritual life. And I know that when I'm in those places that nobody else knows about... or knows how to reach me... or just doesn't care ... I know that My God is there. She did too.

And though you could look at the journey she took, through addiction and shame... and find her unworthy of the attention that was given to her yesterday.... it did my heart so much good to see that someone who had, at times, been so BAD could and did find redemption through Jesus. Because I could have the same accusers, for different reasons, to be certain... but all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. Whitney did. I do too.

A friend posted a nice little encouragement on her facebook page yesterday repeating what her pastor frequently says:  Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. 

It was echoed in the service yesterday where we were given the reminder that the church is a hospital for sinners... not as some would see it... a Museum of the Saints. And I know a lot of people, some of you, even, have kept your distance, not just from the physical church but also from a relationship with God because you don't feel worthy... or maybe you're not ready to put down whatever that thing/person/circumstance is that in your mind separates you from God. Tyler Perry quoted this passage from Romans and I was (once again) shouting and celebrating...

Romans 8:38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Make that passage personal to you. Instead of New International Version (which I most often use) put it in New Heather Version like this:

For I am convinced that neither poor job performance, nor poverty, neither chronic back pain nor high blood pressure, neither poor church attendance or that snarky, mean thing I said in my blog, nor the unpaid bills nor the sinfully high stack of laundry, nor my lack of discipline or any of the other things that I feel guilty about that I can't mention here for risk of embarrassing my family or myself... will be able to separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus MY Lord.

Insert your name and your own demons and disappointments. I know - we think that our "worst thing" is so off the charts that there is no way we can "hang with the Holy Homies" - but I want to tell you that Heaven is gonna be crowded with people like Whitney and me and even King David who spent our entire time here on Earth messing up, falling short, disappointing people, disappointing ourselves, lacking whatever the world thinks we shoulda/coulda/woulda done. There's room at the cross for all of us.

I hope to see you there. Love and hugs, y'all.


Fat Free JAM said...

Beautiful post. I did not watch it. I didn't want to watch. I have to admit that lately I have had a a lack of tolerance. I think it is everything getting to me.

On a side note, from something you said in the beginning. I boycott Chikfila because of what they are doing to the little man. A Vermont t-shirt maker is being sued over his use of "Eat More Kale" on his tshirts since the 90's . Check it out, support the small business man.

Bookncoffee said...

Great entry Heather. I think most of us do have some dark caverns we will never blog about.

Glad you like the town you live in. And LOL on the DQ. I bought ice cream sandwiches yesterday from Aldi. Had to. It was just a requirement by my tummy. They were the mini ones of course. lol Have a good Sunday. I'm worried about Kate going back to school in potential snow. :-( Not sure she will listen to her Mom.