Roller Coasters are my favorite ride at any amusement park. The higher the drop, the better. Circles and loops are boring – its’ the big fall that’s fun. Going up one hill and down another is a blast.
Emotional roller coasters are a different story. They can leave you with whiplash, feeling drained and numb.
The past week I’ve been riding an emotional roller coaster.
I awoke Friday morning looking forward to the weekend. Steven, Sara, Jacqueline, Evan, Liam, and Lilianna were heading to Rock Hill later that day so we could celebrate “Christmas.” It would be the first time we would all be together since Jacqueline’s cancer diagnosis.
Then at 6:26 am I got a call from an officer with the Sheriff’s Department. An elderly member of our church family had just committed suicide. I spent the next several hours at the home with his widow and family.
Saturday I fixed a turkey and we enjoyed a nice meal, opened gifts, and hung out as a family. There was the usual noise and clutter, laughter and hugs that go with such occasions.
There were also tears and prayers and more hugs as we discussed Jacqueline’s chemo. Meanwhile I made calls and sent text messages preparing for a funeral.
Sunday was a great day at church, with nearly 40 people indicating they wanted to join FBC. After worship Monieca and I enjoyed lunch with Jacqueline and her family before they left for Charleston. At the house that afternoon I finalized things with the funeral home, and then watched the Super Bowl.
Each time I woke from sleep Sunday night I prayed for Jacqueline. Monday was her first chemo infusion. She had been anxious the previous weekend, but the weekend gave her a sense of peace. Still I knew she would be nervous Monday morning. At the office I spent the morning preparing a message the funeral. What do you say when someone takes their own life? God knows what needs to be said and He gave me a message. After the service, I spent much of the afternoon with the family. Throughout the day I was receiving messages and photographs from Charleston. It was not a fun day.
I had planned to write this blog entry earlier in the week, but I simply didn’t have the emotional energy to do it. I’m still a little flat – so to speak.
I learned a long time ago that life isn’t like an amusement park. When I go to Carowinds, Kings Island, or Six Flags it is because I choose to. I decide which roller coasters I ride and how many times. Life’s emotional roller coasters are different. They often choose you.
Once one of those roller coasters says, “You’re going for a ride,” it’s too late to get ready. Who you are when the ride starts goes a long way toward determining how you handle it. The depth of your faith and the quality of your walk with Christ make a difference. The love of family and brothers/sisters in Christ are needed.
Those things are cultivated over time, not cooked in three minutes in some spiritual microwave. Thus the way you approach life today will be very important when you find yourself on some roller coaster in one of your tomorrows. That is why I plead with you to surrender your heart and soul to Jesus now. The roller coaster is coming…are you ready?
Pastor Steve Hogg