For years, my children have sung the same old tired song. It goes like this: it isn’t fair, it isn’t fair, it isn’t fair.
I used to argue with them. I tried banning those words, altogether. But for the past year or so, I have said only this:
In our house, we don’t do fair. We do love. Do you want fairness or do you want love?
I heard the familiar complaint again as we sat around the dinner table Sunday night. My mind was elsewhere, my body tired, so I let the conversation take it’s course. The kids didn’t argue. They traded ideas with more civility than is typical. But they never could decide what a fair distribution of the baguette might have been. The baguette they had already polished off between them. Four pieces, each? Wait, no, that doesn’t work.
I hesitated before I spoke. I hesitated because I wasn’t sure if it was right to say it. I wasn’t sure if I could say it without tears. But I said it:
Do you think what happened to your cousins in Hawaii was fair?
They looked at me with wide eyes and said, No.
Do you think God loves you more than them?
They lowered their heads. They whispered, No.
No one at the table said anything for a long while. We know the truth, we hold it in our hands like the shell my daughter brought home from the beach, but that doesn’t mean we understand it.
While I was in Hawaii, I heard a young child cry, It isn’t fair.
And she’s right. It isn’t fair.
“Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power?” Job 21:7
Why would such a good man, such a loving and much-loved man, die young? I don’t know the answer, but I know that the God of heaven and earth is something better than fair. He is love.
So many have asked. How are you? How is your sister? How are the kids? I can only speak for myself, but I think that we are all walking the wild, unfamiliar edges of a very great love.
We are discovering that God’s love is deeper than the great depths of the ocean only a mile off Oahu’s North Shore. We are finding that God’s love is higher than the mountains that climb like great green fingers to a crumbling, volcanic rim. We can see that God’s love is wider even than a rainbow so wide it embraces the horizon.
This loss, this sorrow, is enormous. It stretches out as far as we can see. But, there, too, matching it, overtaking it, is this love.
“Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” Job 42:3
Every day God gives good gifts. He gives those ordinary miracles of day and night, work and rest, bread and wine and laughter. But, too often, we receive those gifts as if we were waiting for the other shoe to drop. The irony is that when life is good, when life seems easy, too many of us do not feel loved. And we do not feel safe.
I have long believed that life is a journey of love. More and more, I am becoming convinced that some days are for love’s gentleness. Other days for its wildness.
There is evening, and we sleep in love’s quietness. There is morning, and our eyes are opened to love’s vast, almost unfathomable borders.
Today, we are wide awake.
“I am walking every day nearer to the edge. I committed myself almost with a running leap … but there is always this edge running through our lives and our days. … it is the cliff edge between winter and spring. The fault line between death and life. … I am realizing how frequently we are invited to dive into the unknown. To make a flying leap toward light and life and love. How frightening it always is. And how necessary. And also how well cared for we always are, even if we are never, at least not exactly, safe.” – Christie Purifoy, Roots and Sky
It is true that we are loved, but it is also true that we are not safe. Not in the way we take that word to mean. Shoes do drop. Suffering knocks on our door, but this isn’t because some cosmic scale has tipped. This isn’t because we have reached the end of God’s goodness. Or of our supply of good gifts.
To have your soul awakened. To have your eyes opened.
Those are also good gifts.
“My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” Job 42:5
If you pray for us, perhaps you might pray for sleep. If wakefulness is a gift, it is one we cannot bear for long. We need at least a few hours when our eyes can close.
We need, sometimes, to forget. We need darkness, especially when, all day long, we cannot seem to stop staring straight into the sun.
Omigosh, Christie. I so know these true, true words. All of them. Thank you for stringing them together so very beautifully. Oh, my. OH, MY.
Thank you, Diana. I read your comment with relief. Because it is very, very hard to put words to this experience.
Praying for your entire family.
Linda, thank you!
Thank you for this post Christie – it was lovely to meet you at TCCO despite the reason. These words are blessing to all who struggle with grief and fight a battle deep inside their soul.
I am so glad we met and so glad I had that time at TCCO. God continues to give such good gifts.
I am in awe of how well you all continue to praise Him – what an incredible testimony of your faith. My family and I are praying without ceasing for His continued comfort, peace and love to surround you.
Summer, I am grateful. We feel those prayers. We really do.
Christie, I know these true true words too. Like Diana, I like how you have strung these together. And I get the relief of sleep. Yes, it is a time to forget and to “feel” safe, or somehow safer. I was glad for sleep and I pray for you now you will have that. My heart aches for you as you experience the feelings, grieve for yourself and then walk with your sister and her children through this loss.
Thank you for being here, Carol. Thank you for the compassion and comfort in your words.
“Now we are awake…walking the wild, unfamiliar edges of a very great love…” I found this so true when our kids lost their precious 14 year old cousin Anna in a car accident last spring. And like your family we craved a good sleep. Because you are so very wide awake and it’s so very painful when we lose a precious loved one, but what carried us through was love. God’s love and the love of everyone who entered into our sorrow. You have been in my prayers since your tragedy happened. My husband was an army helicopter pilot before becoming a teacher so the sad news popped up on my facebook feed before I saw it on your blog. I’m so deeply, truly sorry. Prayers for peace and sleep.
I am especially grateful for the prayers of those who have walked this way before. Thank you.
I know, oh, how I know. Praying for sleep, comfort and peace to surround your entire family.
Thank you, Prudence. Truly.
Thank you for being here, Susan. xoxo
Beautifully expressed, Christie. Sending love to all of your family.
We feel it Aunt Katherine! xoxo
crying again. this is the deepest kind of truth. wow, you take my breath away with how you translate it for us
It is so, so hard to put into words, isn’t, Lisa-Jo? Thanks for the encouragement to keep trying.
It is not fair. And we are not safe, exactly. But we are cared for. (It reminds me of the words about Aslan: “Of course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”)
Praying for rest for all of you, Christie.
Thank you so much, Katie. I thought of those words about Aslan, too. I always thought I knew what they meant, but I am not sure that I did. But now I know how true they are.
This is stunning. You do justice to grief through these holy words. Thank you for writing through this. It is important and baffling and true, and you touch deeply into the universal through the personal.
Thank you, Laura. I am praying for you and your daughters, too. May you, too, find rest in God’s goodness.
Christi, I came back here again to read your words to my husband. And your words about God being safe and good. Your words are beautifully said. I just needed to come back here and tell you again.
Thank you, Carol.
I had to read this 3 times to take it all in. Beautiful post that has helped to deepen my own walk with our Lord.
I am so glad to hear that. Thank you, Katie.
Christie, I have been praying for you and your family daily. I came to your site via ‘artoftheeveryday’ when she posted the prayer need after the accident. I will include this intention for sleep. These words that express your open heart are gift to me. Pain and loss are so frightening to me and observing how you respond to it- with hearts open has encouraged me. Praying so often for your sweet sister and her dear ones.
Thank you for your words and your prayers, Sarah. This is exactly why I keep writing – I want you, I want everyone, to know that there really is no reason to be afraid. Though the very worst happens, we do not need to be afraid.
My beautiful friend, you are doing such good, hard work into places many are afraid to go. Thank you for your bravery leading us into a dark room with your light. Praying for true rest.
Brave or desperate? I don’t know, Summer, but I am so glad to have you here. Grateful for you and your encouragement.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your heart. I am praying for you all.
Thank you, Melissa.
Kelli has said for years how thankful she is for a sister that can give words to what her heart feels. I understand what she mean now, and I am so thankful for you and your words, Christie.
I have never read your writing before, but it is a holy gift on a particularly challenging Tuesday to find your words. I read them too fast the first time through because of how hungry I was. Thank you…and know that I will be praying for sleep for you and your dear ones.
There’s such a gentle hush about your words Christie. A holiness that comes with deep revelation accompanied by pain. I’ve only just come across your writing, and your family grief, and I’m touched by the honesty of both the beauty and the sorrow expressed in your words. The children in this story are blessed to have you hold their hands as they grapple with understanding the ‘wild, unfamiliar edges of a very great love’. Thank you for sharing your insights. And I’m so very sorry for the great loss you are all experiencing.
Christie, your beautiful words are such a gift. I find myself holding my breath and rereading each line. Such deep words of truth, they are a balm to my heart. I feel God’s presence and great love. I feel us all drawn together and I’m so touched that you bless us in your brokenness. Thank you.
I will continue to keep you and your family in prayer.
Oh Christie, I love you as if we’ve actually hugged. You my dear are a wordsmith that I aspire too. Your understanding and communication of the edges of love are wonderfully shared. I continue to pray for you, for your parents, for Kelli, for Brian and Lisa … and your brother and his family as well. The hurt is so real even for an extended family (the loved by God family) distance. Roots and Sky arrived and I’m slowly soaking in your words.
(And prayers for sleep).
Thank you for the gift of inviting us (readers and sisters in Christ) to join in praying for you.
For your sister and her dear children – words from Isaiah 40:11 that held me as I walked through a great sorrow, alone with my then young children, sixteen years ago.
“He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart,
he gently leads those that have young.”
and for all of you – may the exhaustion of grief give way to trust-filled sleep, and the morning’s refreshment bring strength for the day and the holy hope of resurrection.
And on another note – thank you Christie, for your soul encouraging book and for the delicious chai tea recipe, both of which fed me in rich ways ways this past weekend. (My journal is a little fuller today, thanks to some of the passages I have copied into it.)
I’ve watched you and your sister’s journey from far, far away, and have prayed for your family. Thank you for this window into your now, it keeps my eyes on Jesus. I know he is carrying all of you, and I pray that his love is tangibly felt in every stage and in every emotion.
I’m more than half way through your book and it’s like I’m reading an answer to so many questions I’ve had, longings, hopes and dreams. Your book is a gentle answer of powerful truth. Soothing as a cup of hot tea, but profound to where I know I’ve encountered truth that will shape and remain with me.
This is so good to hear, Linda. Thank you for taking the time to share your response with me. It does my heart good.