I am always snapping photos. I am the friend always requesting a photo at a social gathering and the family member wanting to mark a moment in time. The other day I was scrolling through the photo app on my phone, and I caught a glimpse of one I took in the hospital of my dad. This is my first confession that such a photo exists but looking back I would not have it any other way. As I think about the progress that my dad has made since his brain aneurysm that caused a massive stroke, it would be easy for me to close out the month of February thinking about “Family, Friends, and Home” with all smiles and Instagram-able pictures of those I love dearly. However, we know that our experiences in our homes and around our family and friends are not always pretty. Our lives are not always packaged with delightful meals around the table, with kind words of affirmation, with conversation that is respectful and void of radical emotion. We are human. The spaces we inhabit are filled with created beings who can bring a lot of emotion and, if we are being completely honest, opinion to a room. Our loved ones can get hurt and they can hurt us.
I cannot ignore thoughts about how God fits into the mess of suffering, in the pain of loss, in the struggle to feel seen by those we love. Home may be complicated for some of you. Home behind closed doors may be different than what the world sees or what we are fully honest about with others. That’s okay too. The comfort I carry with me is knowing that God is ever-present in it all. Yes, all of it. God was in the emergency room waiting room as my family tried to understand what happened inside of my Dad’s body, God was in the recovery process when things suddenly took a turn and we thought we may lose him for a second time, and God has been in the harsh reality that life will most likely look different than intended as a new normal is created. Our stories in this world, whether they be good, bad, or just plain ugly, are not void of the divine. My ability to practice inviting God to dwell in every moment, in every ordinary second of my life, is what increases my comfort in times of disarray. God is goodness, and God is in the goodness, but sometimes it is in the harsh reality of this world where we need to remember the accompaniment of God the most. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world,” reads John 16:33. Take heart, friends. In the complexity of life at home and with the people you call your family and friends, God is with you. Always.