Tatts and Tears

I went to support my brother. Funerals are hard for us both. That’s just the reality of the grief walk. You think you’re going to handle it, but then a word is spoken, a memory comes back and you end up sitting through someone else’s funeral only remembering the one that changed everything for you.

So, I went for him. He was the pastor for the occasion, and I knew it would be tough. The dear man who passed away was someone my own husband knew and loved, shared laughs with, and even shared the Lord with. It was my brother, however, who had the privilege of leading him to Christ.

After hugging my brother at the door, I eventually spotted the only other faces I knew — his daughter and son-in-law, and sat next to them. I thought about staying on the back row, but something about this experience told me I needed to be closer to family.

I’ve been to a lot of funerals, and each is unique. This one, however, was the first where I felt I’d missed the memo. I was clearly out of my element and yet thanked the Lord for the privilege to observe a grieving community, because it gave me insight into the grace of God.

When you think about guys with tatts (tattoos, for those who live in another world), you don’t typically picture a sentimental side and definitely not tears, but today, I saw both. There were men with Led Zeppelin shirts and tattoos, heads bowed and tears flowing over the loss of a dear friend and brother.

As one hour stretched into two, friends and family shared what it meant to have known the one they loss. They stood side by side, to show their support, many having never shared publicly in such an emotional way. They used words like, best friend, smile, hugs, laughter, blessed, beautiful, brother, caring and family to describe the way he touched their lives. Though we followed a program, an unexpected addition made his way to the front as we neared the end of remarks — a Hispanic man, who required translation, shared that he too had been befriended and loved. Through the translator, he shared the song of the One who leaves the 99 to search out the one lost sheep. This is what God had done for his brother. There was no dry eye in the place.

My brother said it best — “Jesus saves us, junk and all” (I may be paraphrasing there). Their friend was not perfect, but he knew Jesus. In the end for him, that’s all that mattered.

So, as I sat through this funeral of tatts and tears, I thanked God for the reminder of his love for the sinner, and salvation, despite who we are. I was one of their tribe today, honoring the life of a man who did his best with his mess to live for Christ. Obviously, it made a difference.

My mess is just as messy, but I’m grateful for grace and for a God who sees, not me, but Christ in me, my only hope for salvation.

Grace and Peace


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