Ancestral ashes — but not defeat
There are times when falsehood is so glaring, so blatant, that our only response must be with the blinding light of scripture. Recently, I saw a meme on social media that boldly stated on a Christian page that we should not share our problems, nor voice our problems to the Lord, rather that we should only share our joys.
It went so far to say that to voice our problems is nothing more than an addiction.
On the surface, we might half-heartedly agree. Or we might dismiss such words as good-hearted advice. Certainly, a constant hum of only seeing our troubles, our pains, our sufferings, but not seeing the possibility of healing, or joy in our lives or in the lives of others is deeply and spiritually problematic. However, that was not the intent or focus of this particular post.
I love the Lord and I love scripture. I find that my devotion to my Savior increases my hunger for His Word. I literally crave hearing the words of my Lord, of His holy disciples. The lessons, the prayers, contained in the Holy Bible. If not reading God’s word, I enjoy hearing Christian praise music, which often incorporates scripture into the lyrics.
And here is the blessing. The blessing in becoming immersed in the foundation of our faith is that it truly does give us anointing on our tongue and in our heart. In response to the post that suggested we should not bring our sorrows to the Lord, immediately I heard Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” I also heard Psalm 147:3 — “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Further, Matthew 5:7: “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.”
There was a time and not that long ago — in our great-grandparents’ and in our grandparents’ generation or even our parents’ — when silencing our problems, our pains and keeping secrets was not only acceptable and encouraged, it was mandatory — even coerced. Much became hidden. Families and generations of families held so tightly to the unspoken wounds of their ancestors and even their own personal wounds that it became a toxic thread, more so a chord of inheritance that was passed along through time, even unconsciously.
I always use my life as my testimony, because honestly, it is the fertile ground through which God has worked His mercy and His glory. My maternal grandmother had such tragedy in her life that truly it was almost insurmountable. She witnessed the shotgun murder of her brother by her other brother. Her third brother committed suicide by hanging, found by my father (after my parents were married). All this took place in Charleston. As a child, I heard her tears every night as she lay down to bed. I heard her cry out the names of her brothers who tragically died. Open wounds on the soul.
And my own mother carried the burden of her mother’s pain, a pain that she had no power to heal. She had only the opportunity to witness, just as I witnessed. The chord that was passed to me was a mother who never truly felt loved by her mother, who in turn, had great difficulty in showing me the love and affection that was never taught her. Oh, these wounds that bind. Oh, these wounds that we all carry in one form or another.
But our stories do not end in the ashes, the ancestral ashes. Our stories do not end in defeat nor suffering. Nor regret. Nor hopelessness. Our stories are changed. Changed by the one who came to save us from sin, to bring life and light to the darkness. John 14:6 says, “I am the way, the truth and the Life.” He came to bring a testimony of resurrection for all His children.
I believe our challenge as Christians is to see the brokenness of others and to hold the promise of repentance, forgiveness, redemption and salvation, not only within ourselves but as we serve our communities. We must see the possibility of the impossible being healed through Christ our Lord. I know that He has healed wounds in me that would have remained open without Him.
Through God all things are possible. This does not mean that our faith walk will not encounter new tragedies, new sorrows, new losses, new grief. But, what it does mean is that when we trust in the Lord, He will make a way. He is indeed the way maker. We will persevere, just as my grandmother, Virginia persevered; as did my mother, Lucia. As do I.
Recently, I have reconnected to a long-lost cousin, a beautiful, sweet and talented soul. I have also reconnected to an old friend who shared a very significant life tragedy with me, where we both almost perished in a home fire caused by arson. I could tangibly feel the warmth and support between us. And I am in the process of seeing more clearly the soul wounds of a boy that I dearly adored and trusted as a child and understanding that is what caused him to cruelly harm me as an adult and betray our family’s generational neighborly love and respect for one another.
The wounds that are the deepest hold within the greatest potential for life altering and life changing miracles. This is the paradox of faith. We do not grow only through our joys and the bountiful blessings, our successes and accomplishments, riches and gifts of this world. We grow most intensely as Christians from the trials and the brokenness of spirit if we draw nearer to God. This is fertile ground for God. This is holy and sacred space. This is where God remakes us in the furnace. And this is where we are made on fire for both our Lord and His holy and everlasting Word.
Jackie Morfesis has a BFA in fine arts, MA in liberal studies and teacher certification from Rutgers University. She held a Rotary Scholarship to Greece in the arts and humanities. An artist, poet and educator, she is a Greek Orthodox Christian and involved with prison ministry in the Charleston area.