The Power of a Daisy

She sat on my right during a return flight from San Antonio years ago. As we introduced ourselves and said a greeting, the conversation developed in a normal manner. I asked, “So, what were you doing in Maryland?” She answered directly, seriously, and matter-of-factly, “My son just died. I went to get his body and bring him back to Albuquerque.” I was stunned. We sat in silence for a few moments. I then asked, “Ma’am, what happened?” She said, “He was 21 years old and sleeping overnight on a friend’s couch. He never woke up.” We sat in more silence. We began talking again and she said they were now waiting for the autopsy report, as there was no explanation for his death. I asked her what her son was like, what he liked to do. She said he liked skateboarding and drawing. She began to quietly cry tears of the deepest grief you can imagine. My heart broke for this woman. She was still in literal “shock.” She is a Christian and said she needs to get back in church after this. Her “son also was a Christian,” she said with tears. We sat in more silence. Across the row on my left was a young woman with a bouquet of flowers. I felt compelled to do something strange and impromptu. I asked her if I could buy one of her flowers. She said, “I’ll give you one.” I chose a yellow daisy. Then I gave it to the woman and said, “Jesus told me to give this to you. He is so sorry for your son.”  She had a mixed expression of smiling and sadness as more tears rolled down her face. I said, “Whenever you see a yellow daisy, please picture it in your son’s hands as he awaits you at the front gate of heaven.” “Thank you,” she said. We sat in silence.

Life Invading Life

One of the greatest mysteries about life is “life.” Why did God take that young man? Why do so many terrible and painful things happen every day throughout the world? That grieving mother did not need or want answers because there will never be an answer good enough to “fix” her crucified heart! I continue to learn that I don’t have many answers to my own questions, let alone others. It seems that when life invades our life with unexpected tragedy and penetrating emotional trauma, giving a prayer with a Bible verse like an “aspirin” may do more damage than good. I believe there are many instances in life where answers are not necessary or wanted. Instead, simply expressing and venting our legitimate, raw, and realistic pain from the basement of our heart is all that is needed. Then, perhaps later, logical and theological truths can be made. But, being presented with truth and logic too soon is like forcing thorns into the open cuts in our hearts…like reinforcing the thorns in the wounds on Christ’s forehead. If that woman, like many of us tend to do with real-life issues, had been quoting the Bible, saying Christian cliches and praising God, I wouldn’t have believed her. It would have been a fake, overspiritualized attempt to escape the grief and utter pain her heart was gripped in from the death of her beloved son. I believe Jesus Christ did not inspire me to whip out my Bible and plug up her emotional openness with “spiritual” statements and a dozen Scriptures. If Jesus were in my seat, I think He would have given her that yellow daisy with tears and said, “I am so sorry for your son.” That would have been the most appropriate “theology” given the fragile state that woman was in.

The next time your life and mine are invaded with “life,” will we need full answers or a daisy? The next time you and I have a chance to be there for someone who is hurting, will we give just truth, or a daisy, or, perhaps a delicate, sensitive balance of both? Let’s not just read the following verse, but apply and live the lesson found in it, “Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart” (Proverbs 25:20).

No Responses — Written on December 13, 2011 — Filed in Monthly Devotion

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