Deep love, Deep hurt

The past few months, the thought of a deeper love equaling deeper hurt, has been on my mind.  This is not to say that deeper love inevitably hurts, or that you shouldn’t be willing to love deep, but that when you are vulnerable to deeply love, that same vulnerability opens yourself to be feel much more pain if & when you are hurt by something or someone.

This happens to us as people, but it also intrigues me in our love relationship with God. “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)”And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”(1 John 4:16)

If God loved us THAT much, that He would give us His only son, that He would live in us, that God is synonymous with love in the way that if we love, we are in Him, that’s powerful.  That’s a deep love, that’s an amazing love. “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

So can you imagine with me then, that through God’s love for us, incomprehensibly deep & devoted, that when we hurt or when we turn from Him, either way….just think of how much He must hurt with us & for us. “In all their suffering he also suffered,…” (Isaiah 63:9) It says in the Bible how God suffers with us…and if the greater the love the greater the pain can be, I can only imagine that God suffers greatly over each & every one of us, longing for us to come near to Him, to dwell in Him, to be comforted by Him & to understand His love for us. He mourns with us, but doesn’t stay inactive…He comes after us.  Isaiah goes on to say “…and he personally rescued them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years.”

Through all the years….forever, ….loving us deeply, holding us in our pain, hurting for us when we walk away, His love never fades. “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.” (Lamentations 3:22)  This gives me hope, confidence & full assurance that when I hurt, I am not alone. It also reminds me that as much as I am able to love, He is able to love more fully, more completely, more intimately than I will ever understand, and that through our doubt, questioning, longing for answers, that He loves us still.  Be confident in this: “Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)

A quiet Joy

In the past two years, there have been multiple things that have upset the flow of my life.  Some would say this just IS life….the constant upsetting, twisting, lurching, occasional lull and then surprises once again.  I agree with this, but I think you know what I mean when you feel like your “nice little life” is turned upside down!  Even though crazy things are what make up our life, somewhere we feel like…..it’s the “normal” days that should comprise the most of it? I don’t know if this makes sense….but stick with me.

I’ve been challenged to look at joy in my life, and here is what I can say….for those of you reading who don’t know me well, in 2008 my dear friend gave her life trying to save another camper, and both died tragically over a large waterfall…a few months later, my grandma passed away after a 5 year fight against cancer…a few months after that, my dad had triple by-pass surgery following a motorcycle accident…and a few months after that, my mom was diagnosed with Leukemia…leading to this March, when she met Jesus at home in heaven.  That’s part of my backstory…I’m not telling you this so that you pity me, or on the flip say…she has no idea what kind of pain I’ve been through, I just want you to know that I can to some extent say with assurance that I can empathize with pain…and we can be connected through that. These trials are not the things that make me unique, nor does it for anyone else….but it is the way we respond to these situations that really define who we are, and what we are made of. ….so back to Joy….

“Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me; O LORD, be my help. You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.” (Psalm 30:10-12)

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (Psalm 51:12)

Joy to me, is the confidence I have in knowing that God, the eternal and all knowing, all powerful God will sustain me throughout whatever trials must be faced on this earth.  Having this trust in his unfailing mercy, brings me joy….understanding that though times can be tough, He is still faithful, He is still strong, He will sustain me and hold me up when I feel like falling.  This joy is freedom in Christ, knowing that when I cannot make it, He will continue the work that he began in me.  It is not something that I can do, or stir up, or make grow inside of me….it is something that God reminds me of at the right moment of need…He reminds me that I am not alone, and that there is hope for a future in Him and in that hope I can find joy because my present moment is not the end…it’s not final and God will be with me in every situation, at every moment….forever.

This to me, is how joy is seen.  It is in the reassurance of God’s unfailing love that I am able to relax in His arms and revel in joy despite the raging seas pounding against my soul.  His joy will give me strength.

“Praise be to the Lord, for He has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and shield; my heart trusts in Him and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song. The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of his salvation for his Anointed one.” (Psalm 28:6-8)

Not what it seems….

“How am I going to be able to grow up without a mom to tell secrets to?” ….this is just one of many quotes that have made me tear up today…. I’ve been put in a lot of tough situations recently, that are forcing me to make decisions that right now I feel I cannot make.  It’s like life is asking me to become a new person, one that I don’t know about, and one that I don’t necessarily want to be.  I guess it’s all part of growing up, but wow…growing pains have never burned so much.

To a large degree, our family & friends that we have relationships with make up a large part of our identity.  When we lose them, we lose a part of our identity too….I’ve recently heard this termed like an amputation of the familiar self.  Who we were with them, is not going to be who we are without them. It’s like….a normal life loss of something like…adolescence, or a job, or moving away…the loss is like a broken arm that takes a while to heal and the pain real but it will eventually heal.  However, catastrophic loss….death of a parent, sibling, friend, child, whoever…is like an amputation…not just a broken arm.  It will never come back or be completely healed, and you’ll always have phantom feelings of the limb that once was there but no longer remains.

I guess this is all part of growing up and growing into who I will be…though it feels different than I thought it would.  You never imagine these things to come, and you’d never imagine the consequences that would follow…everyone is different and we’re all trying to become a new different together, yet still individually.  Some people make choices for themselves that affect just them, and other make choices that lead to more and more choices for other people.  It’s all very difficult, and hard…..

Wishing that I had some verses right now to write about, but I’m too empty to seek them out today.  If you’re reading this…what are some verses that have helped you grow into who you are today?  I’m curious…..because I just feel like I have no idea where my life is going, and it’s hard to really go day to day when you don’t have a direction. 🙂

Who can I trust?

“When I am afraid, I will trust in You, I will trust in You, I will trust in You. When I am afraid, I will trust in You in God whose word I praise.” (Psalm 56:3-4) This song keeps playing over & over in my head….it’s a child’s memory song that I learned long ago, and thankfully it comes up on days like today, when I just question….who can I trust when I am down & unsure?

The verse goes on to say, “what can mortal man do to me” and….to that, I know there is nothing that they can really do…..but there is still pain from their choices & deeds against us.

“Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.” (Psalm 62:8)….but I ask that you “Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in You.” (Psalm 143:7-9)

…I guess I just don’t know who to trust right now…things have been falling apart, people not living up to their word, so much junk around, that it’s in times like these that I need to remember the one thing I know I can trust in is Christ. “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man….” (Psalm 118:8) This verse is being proven more and more each day…..just trust in Him….and when I am afraid….of the future, of people, of consequences, of everything….I need to be reminded that God will not fail me. “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord is the Rock eternal.” (Isaiah 26:4)

No Parking or Stopping

This afternoon, I found myself hidden, in a small patch of grass, mesmerized by the trees, the breeze, the heat & the deep hurt of a friend….of their deep hurt, and how I hurt because I know they hurt.  As I sat, I looked towards the road, and saw this common sign “No Parking or Stopping.”

I see these signs all the time, we all do & are often frustrated with the thoughts of “why not,” or “it’ll just be a second,” or “someone else is parked there….maybe I can get away with it too.”  But today, as I looked at the sign, and thought about this woman, friend, co-worker…..I thought of how God often tells us that earth itself is a “No Parking or Stopping” zone.

Stay with me….it says in Philippians 3:20 that “…our citizenship is in heaven.” Does this mean we’re not made for this earth?  We’re made for something else, right?  Heaven? To glorify God ultimately…but that earth, where our God has placed us, is just temporary, right?  We’re not supposed to just stay here.  This isn’t our end point.  We can’t just stop, or park here on earth….we need to keep moving…especially when times get bad.  

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  SO we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)
  
I do not appreciate the knowledge that the troubles we endure here, is “achieving an eternal glory”….I want the beauty now…I want to stop, enjoy the roses, whatever. Yet the truth is, that God is and will use these times to make His glory seem even more beautiful to us once we are united with Him.  What we experience here, is temporary….it’s something that will pass away, that we need to not stop at. We cannot allow these things to stop us….though we may want to…we need to remember the “No Parking” sign.  This is not the end.  There is more….Philippians 3:20 goes on to say “And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.”

These bodies, the ones we are wasting away in….the old, the fat, the frail, the weak, the worn down bodies that we are in…are only traveling clothes.  There is more to hope for, though right now it is hard to see.  It is painful to look for. But don’t stop….keep going.