June 24, 2020

Blue Jello and the God Who Holds Us Fast

By Jeanne Harrison

Tonight I am eating jello. It’s blue and so am I. 

It may be the saddest jello I’ve ever eaten in my life — in part because my daughter made it and it’s lumpy, and in part because it’s 2020 and everything feels like lumpy blue jello right now.

Can I be candid?

I’m a pastor’s wife of 14 years. I counsel people all the time. I speak at events, write books — I do all the things. 

So far through this pandemic, I’ve called my mom sobbing like a three year old at least twelve times. I’ve asked an actual three year old to pipe down so I could finish crying to my mom. I’m scared. I’m overwhelmed. I’m angry. I’m exhausted. I feel inept as a mother, a housekeeper, definitely as a cook (that ship sailed two months ago), and as a part-time employee. My rhythms have fallen to pieces. My schedule is haywire. Last week during a game of hide-and-seek, I wedged myself behind my daughter’s bookshelf (ingenious, really) and briefly considered never coming out again. If I’d packed a snack I might still be there. 

Someone told me tonight that she sometimes wishes Christian leaders would just admit this sucks.

This sucks.

We are as sad as you are. We are as human as you are. There are no picture-perfect farmhouses right now filled with picture-perfect children singing praises while their parents trust God faultlessly. And in a strange way, I’m glad there aren’t. Because if there’s one thing I know about Jesus, it’s that He always shows up in the mess. In the brokenness. The fear. The sadness, too weighty for words. The what ifs. The whys. The what nows. 

Colossians 1:17 says that Jesus holds all things together. I probably learned that verse when I was five years old, but it’s taken me 35 years to actually feel it. In these past several months, I’ve sensed this supernatural power literally holding the cells of my body together. Silently sustaining me. Helping me do one more load of laundry, settle one more fight, pivot one more time. 

Have I mentioned I’m heartbroken we’re temporarily closing our in-person services? We all are. There’s not a staff member at Grace Church who isn’t longing for the day when we can resume gathering together. As we discussed the situation at length, we returned again and again to a single calling: to love and protect the church. Whether or not you agree with our decision, I want you to know it was made with all the love in our hearts. 

He has not left us, Grace. He is working in the shadows, in the night watches, in the fragile corners of our souls. “Where shall we go from His Spirit? Where shall we flee from His presence? If we ascend to heaven, He is there. If we make our bed in Sheol, He is there. If we take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there His hand will lead us; His right hand will hold us fast” (Psalm 139:7-10). 


7 Responses

  1. I agree, Jeanne. Today I’ve really felt the weight of it all in a new way. So reassuring to hear that someone is sad and tired with me; waiting, trying, hoping to see what beauty He will create from these ashes.

  2. I greatly appreciate Grace’s thoughtfulness during this time. Many things about spring and summer of 2020 sadden me. But God! He manages to grab me just as I’m about to go underwater and places me on a rock. Of course He’s had to do this multiple times this year and I am grateful He hasn’t failed me. I am also grateful for my deeper relationship with my daughter and a long term acquaintance turned friend during these trying times. Thank you Jeanne for being real and transparent. Good is ahead!

  3. Dear Jeanne,

    Thank you for the nakedness of your words.

    Funny you should use the word “sucks”. Several of the people I talk to have agreed that is the correct word for 2020.

    But to borrow a thought from others; 2020 has provided for perfect vision. Assuming you have the faith to see it.

    I used to spend a lot of time in prayer, watching and listening to sermons, etc., but now I do so even more. God has opened so many eyes to His sovereignty; perfect 2020 vision for those who have eyes to see.

    Thank you again for your honest thoughts. The old adage “behind every great man there is a great woman” is made obvious in Clint. He is a great man and great preacher and I so miss his sermons, and that makes you “the great woman”.

    May God richly bless and reward you and your family and comfort you through the rest of this year.

  4. We have a saying in our family during those times when the only way through difficulty is through the difficulty: “Embrace the suck.”

    I am so grateful for church leaders who are willing to be open and vulnerable and to make hard choices. Ya’ll make it suck less. 🙂

  5. Yes, 2020 double sucks. Battle cancer in the middle ou this world situation is not fun at all. But, God has revealed Himself thoughts so many blessings this 6 last months. When I look all He has done, in special through Grace Community, I can see the Goddess of God in the middle of calamity.
    I trust Grace leadership!
    Thank you for sharing with us! You are not alone.

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