Several years ago, I met a woman named Jane. She told me when we met that she struggled with alcoholism, but wished she didn’t.
Yesterday I spoke at her funeral.
Last week I met Jane’s family and found out more about her. She raised three boys as a single mom and loved to garden, cook and decorate. She let her boys have a food fight on the last day of their vacations up north (aka, coolest mom ever). Jane decorated their home to the hilt for every holiday and she sent her boys balloons for their birthday even, much to their horror, once they started high school. Jane’s boys, all grown men now, say their mom is their hero.
What do you picture when you picture a “good” Christian?
Perhaps you envision someone with well-behaved kids and a wonderful marriage. Maybe you picture Billy Graham or Mother Theresa or someone else who would never swear, gossip or drink fermented beverages (except perhaps for communion).
I picture Jane.
Jane got Jesus. Jane had her struggles but in the midst of them she was humble, caring and genuine. She wasn’t afraid to admit her weaknesses, she smiled even when struggling and she loved everyone. Jane didn’t judge others because she was too busy working on improving Jane.
What about the alcoholism?
What about my road rage I keep blogging about but don’t change? What about how I had to apologize to my 14-year-old yet again for the degrading and demeaning way I spoke to her last week? What about when I judge others (pretty much daily) or call someone a name in front of my son because they looked at me the wrong way?
Alcoholism, gossip, pride, anger, judgment…
What about all our struggles?
Jane got Christianity like most of us don’t. No matter how much prettier or acceptable we think our sins may be the Bible is clear: God is holy and perfect and cannot tolerate sin, no matter how inconsequential we may rationalize our sin to be (after all, other people’s sins are always uglier and more obvious to us than our own).
That’s where Jesus comes in. Jane understood in complete humility who she was in Jesus despite choices, situations and things she wished looked differently. She understood Christianity isn’t about how we perform or where we fail, it’s about loving God and loving others (Matthew 22:36-39). She understood what Phillips Brooks said, “Grace does not depend on what we have done for God but rather what God has done for us. Ask people what they must do to get to heaven and most reply, “Be good.” Jesus’ stories contradict that answer. All we must do is cry, “Help!””
God bless you, Jane. Because of Christ’s death I know we will meet again and I’m grateful for that because I wish I had known you better in this short life. You are missed immensely by these men you raised so well and who you taught to love and accept others like you did.
Well done, my sister in Christ.