In case you haven't been reading lately, today was Beth's funeral. Someone asked me after the funeral:
How do you do it?Meaning, how am I able to stand up in front of the congregation and speak words of hope and comfort in the face of a tragedy.
It's a good question. If you know me, you know that I feel deeply. I sometimes have a hard time because I empathize too much (not quite to the level of Big Mama, however, but "at least I got it naturally"). An example: I'll be officiating in a wedding (sorry, Gary, but I just can't say, "I married so-and-so couple" -- it makes me feel like I'm some kind of pervert!). I don't even have to know the family, but when I see "dad" coming down the aisle with his "not-so-little-girl-anymore" and his eyes look like a New Orleans levee (slightly before George W. blew it up), well, my own Dual Lake Pontchartrains begin to overglow.
So, how do I do it?
Prayer. Lots of prayer. I ask God specifically for strength to get through it. I ask for grace to say the right words (I pray that prayer a lot as I prepare the words I will say, and then I don't vary from my script while I'm speaking).
I disassociate. While I'm speaking, I don't think so much about what I'm saying. It's all written down, so I don't have to worry so much about misspeaking and saying something stupid. I try to speak in as calm a voice as I can, and concentrating on my voice helps me to block out some of the emotion.
Remembering what I've written. At a funeral, I always speak about the hope we have in Jesus. As I talk about that, I remember how much more there is than just our mortal moments on this earth - that we were created for a perfect relationship with God, and that gets to happen in heaven. However, I can't let myself think too much about that. It's hard to even say, "He will wipe away every tear" without tearing up myself.
Prayer. The prayers of others buoy me and give me strength.