As I walk along the sidewalk toward the old, moldy yet familiar church, I see a long line which stretches across the length of the building sitting on the corner of the most popular inner-city streets in St. Louis, Missouri. Walking closer to get a better view of the people, I began to see faces, faces I am too familiar with…family, friends, co-workers, old lovers, you name it. Everyone is here. Why are they just standing outside? What are they waiting for? What are they doing HERE?! At MY church? As I walk closer to the people I assumed once I made eye contact that someone would acknowledge me. But as I began to open my mouth to be seen I noticed…sadness in some of their eyes. Tears even. The ones that cause the sinking feeling in your stomach just at the sight of their face. Then there were others with the most pleasant, joyous smile that stretched a mile wide. What in the world is going on here?!
Walking slowly up to the group, I approached the first person I recognized, which was an old college friend. A friendship that in fact ended during my undergraduate days after I realized the type of lifestyle she was trying to live. Why does she look upset? I thought to myself. With an empathetic heart, I leaned in to hug her expecting that she would notice me and embrace me back. Only to my surprise, as I leaned in, I immediately stumbled forward to the ground. **Gasps! Am I…perhaps…invisible? This couldn’t be, I thought. Maybe I am just tripping. So I walked up to my Aunt Vivian, who had a big smile on her face and it happened again- no reaction. It was as if no one saw me! “Hello, I am here! Can anyone see me?! It’s me!!” No response.
As I stood there puzzled, scratching my head I began to see the line move in the direction towards the inside of the church. After a few seconds and short steps I realized what was happening around me. A funeral. MY funeral at that! I took a seat on the back row and looked around at all of the people in attendance. Seemed like everyone I knew in my short lifetime was there. Some of the attendees at my funeral came to a big surprise, while others were expected. That’s when I began to look at their faces again. Curious to see who was crying, mourning or weeping silently in their seat. In some odd way, I wanted to see who took it the hardest. Do they miss me? How did I impact the people that came into my life? What lasting affect did I leave with them?
As I skimmed the room for my close friends and family, I noticed a smile on their faces. Like a legitimate pleasant, even joyous expression! **Throws a fit** Now, I can take a random person seeming unamused at my funeral, but not my own family! Maybe I should be happy knowing that they are okay and not attempting to crawl in the casket to revive me…yea I said it. You KNOW you have been to at least one funeral where that has happened.
Any who…the casket! A boisterous voice interrupted my thoughts causing me to direct my attention towards the casket where they were announcing it was open for viewing. I sat there frozen, afraid to look my mortal self in the face. I began to feel sad. “God, why do you want me to see this?” It’s so heart- wrenching. The casket creaked as it open up completely. As I slowly lifted my head, I became confused at what I was seeing. It wasn’t my physical body it was…WORDS. Words that reminded me of bad places in my life.
Death had occurred, but this funeral represented the death of my old habits, old ways…the old ME. Dead is the depression that haunts my thoughts. Dead is my flesh that allows me to give my body to someone undeserving of this treasure. Dead is the jealously that boils in my heart when I see others experiencing greater success than I. Dead is the lies that I tell to myself and others. Dead is my spirit of hatred that lures into my thoughts preventing me from loving even those that have hurt me. Dead is the flesh that stimulates bad habits making me believe my life will be happier by gratifying it (1 Peter 2:24). Denying this flesh at times can feel like dying to something life-giving.
As I sat in aw, tears began to roll down my face. I now understood why those who really loved me were happy and pleased. You see, in life you will meet people that will not understand your growth. In fact, these are the very individuals that will want to keep you down along with them. They don’t want to see you living your best life, loving, getting closer to God. None of that. In fact, they fume behind closed doors at the thought of your happiness. They are what the young people like to call…BONAFIDE HATERS.
Truth be told when we die of certain things from our past we ALSO die of the people that go along with it. But your “A-Team,” those that truly love you, they will joyously celebrate the person you are growing and becoming. They support the journey you are on to be the best version that God has created you to be.
Every ending has a beginning… “May God bring a rebirth from this death that rises again as a stronger, wiser version of yourself.”