Loss and Love

Are highs and lows part of every vacation? Or just two week-ers? with family?

Going to NC is always a high, the beach in September is always a high, but right after, I got word that a good friend’s dream house burned in the fires of Northern California. And on the heals of that, learned that another good friend unexpectedly lost his father who was also a good friend of mine. It’s hard to imagine him gone. He was so full of life and laughter and love. He lived with God and told hilarious stories of his adventures.

Grief is always hard, even though it’s rich if you lean into it. I just experienced that again this morning. The hardest part of vacation was feeling unwanted at my daughter’s. That’s happened before in tiny doses but always had an antecedent–I had a clue why. This time no clue. I just felt like I was in the way and not liked. It was painful.

Fortunately God drew me to a book on her end table and I started reading it. Of course, it was exactly what I needed. I knew she loved the book, but I had never felt a desire to read it before. It’s about learning to live in gratitude. I thought it would be all fluffy. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

1000 Gifts is a book so raw, and so rich in its detailed unfolding that you are enveloped, learning as she does through her life story. Perfect for what I was going through.

The last day we did have time together and she opened up about her stresses and post partum, and redeemed the week; but leaving I still told myself, this is her life, her choices, and if she is happy  then I will be too. Maybe I’m going to die young and being so far away will make it easier on them than being here every day. I will give thanks in this too, and be thankful I didn’t move here.

Then she texts me that she always has such a hard time with us going home!

Really? I’m in the airport waiting, and we text till takeoff. We pick it up again in the next airport. She couldn’t enjoy having us because always in her heart lurked the hurt we’d be leaving soon.

I really do get that, we share it, but it seemed like such a waste. We texted again when I got home, and so much pain came out. I discovered that she had always felt I was trying to fix her, and she just wanted me to love her.

What? I always thought I loved her too much! Was always afraid I’d lose her. Always fought favoring her above my step kids. Always tried to tone it down!  Felt I needed her to be happy. Feared I loved her more than God.

I should have known nobody in my life would ever feel loved too much, our lives are too broken! And for sure not by me–I’ve had too many lies healed about not being lovable! not being wanted, not being good enough. But under all that rubble, had hidden one, whispered by some dark imp in a vulnerable time, and I had agreed: Nobody really wants me in their lives–they just tolerate me. It had helped me keep everyone at arm’s length so I wouldn’t get hurt.

When Jesus gently and graciously brought it up this morning, I could see that it fit every stage of my life, confirmed every broken relationship in my mind. And I had hidden it from myself because there was just enough attraction and newness in life to pretend it wasn’t there. Yet I believed it. So if someone didn’t need me anymore, moved away, got too busy, was more attracted elsewhere, it just reinforced the belief and I stepped back, moving on. It was almost comforting to me. The reason… And I didn’t have to work at loving. (It’s work for me.)

But when He pulled it up, the feelings came in sobs from the deepest part of me–physically from the pit. And what relief it brought! Especially when He said, “I want you in My Life. I’m so glad you come to be with me every morning. Not many people do that–just come to be with Me.”

Then came what could be called peace, relief, joy, fulfillment, freedom, but I call it loved.

Even in your brokenness, even in your wounded mess and weakness, He will be there. He brings light into your darkness.

No one will ever love you like Jesus.

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