I was not prepared for the phone call I received on May 26, 1994. It came from my mother, who was letting me know she was worried.
“Joshua, I’m just calling because I want to remind you to be careful today. There was a teenage girl who was killed in a horrible car accident this morning.”
“Where did she go to school?”
“I don’t know, but her last name was Myers and her mom works at the elementary school by my office.”
I paused, connected the dots and then the horrible truth hit both of us: That teenage girl was my dear friend Erin Myers.
“Oh Joshua, I’m so sorry,” said Mom.
My most vivid memory of that moment is actually the room I was standing in: my mom’s bedroom. I can still see the bright sun coming through the pink curtains. There’s the heavy green phone in my hand. I’m leaning against her chest of drawers on my left. Outside the window I can see the cemetery beyond our backyard.
It’s like that room is still there inside me.
All of us have spaces like that inside. Think of the moment you got the terrible news, got bullied, humiliated yourself, experienced horror of some kind or heard those damaging words.
Those spaces find a home inside of us and we don’t even notice them anymore — they’ve become part of us. We can’t tear them down but we can do something better: We can invite Jesus into them.
A couple of years ago, Erin’s death started eating at me again. It often did around May 26. I could see myself on the phone with Mom again — the pink curtains, the chest of drawers, the heavy green phone. It bothered me.
I didn’t want to live like that anymore. I couldn’t stay in that room for the rest of my life — I decided to welcome Jesus into it.
I prayed and God gave me a mental picture of the room. As I answered the phone call and got the awful news, I envisioned Jesus there with me, watching as my mom accidentally told me Erin was dead.
When I hung up the phone, I looked at Jesus and told Him the news. And then I remembered how Jesus reacted when His dear friend died. The Scripture’s description is simple: “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).
I believe Jesus wept with me when I learned that Erin was gone. I believe He wept with you when you went through that unforgettable, painful moment. I believe He’s with you and me now as we walk through new and challenging spaces. And I believe that one day, all of these spaces inside of us will pass away and we’ll get a new home.
Jesus said, “There are many rooms in My Father’s house. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going away to make a place for you. After I go and make a place for you, I will come back and take you with Me. Then you may be where I am.” (John 14:2-3).
Until that day, we can invite Jesus into those hard spaces we can’t forget. He will meet us there and one day lead us home.