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I was just shy of 18 when one of my friends died in a car accident.
I’d been to very few funerals up to that point: a great-grandfather when I was very small; my best friend’s mother when I was 12.
I remember the day of her funeral vividly, in slow-motion. Setting up. Hearing the song “Tears in Heaven” practiced what seemed like a hundred times. Crying so much someone from the family section handed me tissues. The urn. The multitude of faces, people she had touched in one way or another.
I felt broken, sitting there, staring at the urn, the senior picture, the mother who never expected to bury a daughter.
My faith was a little broken at that point, too. That summer after my senior year may be the low point of my faith, despite the fact that I was entering college as a Virginia Baptist Scholar. God felt far. Freedom felt close as a new 18-year-old with a job, a boyfriend, independence looming.
God slowly worked at my heart as I entered college, and I discovered a new passion for service. It was nearly two years after the funeral that I was doing a Disciple Now weekend, trying to lead and counsel a group of middle-school girls. (Have I mentioned how much middle-schoolers scare me?) I knew the church felt familiar, but it wasn’t until I stepped into the sanctuary for our closing service that it hit me.
This was the church where we had my friend’s funeral.
I panicked and ran out. My then-boyfriend, Mr. V, came with me to the playground of the church as I cried, unable to fathom reentering the holy place, a sanctuary’s carpet that held my tears.
As he sat there with me and tried to make me smile by telling me his favorite “math love poem,” I think I realized that he was the one. Broken by death, healed by love.
But I still have a very violent reaction to “Tears in Heaven.”
Thanks, Mary, for the inspiration to write about a funeral that affected my faith. This is part of her Remarkable Faith series at Giving Up on Perfect.
I’m sharing my Sunday Best at Feels Like Home.