I haven’t sang in weeks.

And this caught the attention of a friend who checked in on me as a result of my absence.

I have been missing some regular gatherings recently.

And a friend noticed and reached out.

I had slowed down a bit recently on my study and interaction with one of my mentors.

And he noticed and reached out.

Recently, I was watching ESPN, and they were talking about the G-league as some type of professional sports league being considered as an option for kids as an alternative to the “one and done” college path to the NBA. One commentator spoke about the challenges that kids have to face stepping into the world of professional sports, and how a good support system is key to them not crashing and burning under the pressure and temptations and challenging decisions that come with that life.

Also recently, I was listening to a grown up “child star” commenting on many of the casualties of Disney (and other) child stars — and he credited “good parenting and a good support system” as a key differentiating factor in his own and in his fellow child star’s either crashing or burning.

I mention this because I have noticed recently both sides of this “support system” coming into play in my life. Recently, my grandpa, who was my only father figure until I was 11, and who helped raise and mold me, passed away peacefully in hospice care. But in those last months, as his health declined and we moved him and my grandmother in with us, and in those last days in the hospital as his mind increasingly became confused about what was happening to him, he said some very hurtful and seemingly hateful things to me. And dealing with those railing accusations from a dying man about my singing, about my sharing my faith, and about so many things that were a joy in my life — along with the loss of a deadly beloved part of my life — this has all been very difficult. But I’m blessed to have a pretty good support system around me, checking in on me, inviting me to do things, spurring me back into those things that were a joy to me before.

And I’m not writing this so that you’ll think my grandpa a wicked or evil man. He didn’t have the support system that I did growing up. He told me stories of his father that sounded to me like pure meanness. Things like his father being intentionally responsible for a beloved goat of his being brutally killed by another vicious animal right before his eyes when he was young. He lived through poverty and challenge and struggle and a hard life that I have never had to know.

But what I am telling you is that your words, and how you treat those around you — can either be a support system to help build each other up in life and joy and peace — or it can steal from others. It is a fight right now for me to reclaim the joy that was stolen from me in many areas of my life recently. Just like it was a struggle for him to reclaim his joy when it was stolen by his father’s meanness, or by his doctor’s shocking news that he wouldn’t make it thi spring thi help us plant a garden and fruit trees himself.

I can also tell you that what the enemy meant for evil, the Lord can turn into good. Having dealt with the upbringing my grandpa faced, he was hard enough mentally and physically to work construction his whole life, while also sharecropping, serving as a deacon and Sunday school teacher in his church, and making a positive impact on his community with only an elementary school education. I know that he loved me, and I have far more fond memories of him than these more recent wounds could overshadow.

And even in those hurtful things that have seemingly stolen my joy for a dark, dreary, rainy season in this walk — I am looking into those comments to see what measure of truth might be hiding under those seemingly false and hurtful accusations, or what purpose might be served in all of this.

I’m not singing the way that I sang before, but it’s 1:38AM and I don’t hear the birds singing outside in the dark right now either. That doesn’t mean that they are all dead and won’t ever sing again — it just means that it is night, a time for rest and recovery, a time for healing and restoration, a time for solemn reflection.

But I can tell that the morning is about to dawn, because my support system, my friends and family, those birds around me are starting to sing, are seeking to draw me ot of my winter hibernation to burst out into the spring.

Maybe we will get to plant that garden and those trees after all.

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil. Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!
Psalms 90:14‭-‬17 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/psa.90.14-17.ESV

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:14‭-‬16‭, ‬18‭-‬24 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/1th.5.14-24.ESV