*A repost of a beautiful poignant piece written by my friend Amanda in Arctic Alaska.* ~~
I know what you've tried to keep a secret from me. I guess I'd already read between the lines.
I know you were scared to tell me, but I don't understand why. It hurts so much to realize that you were afraid to be honest with me. Now I wonder what I don't know... and I'm worried about the bond of trust that has been shattered.
I know that this life isn't easy and it is filled with temptations. I know that I am far from perfect; I also think I might understand more than you would imagine.
I know you know what the Word says...
I know I cannot change your heart, I cannot make you stick to the straight and narrow. If I could, God knows I would. All I can really do is pray, and ask, "Do you want to change?"
I know where the Spirit of the Lord is there is victory! So, if the sorrow you feel is godly and not just worldly, change can and will take place.
I know I cannot leave the path to come and find you. I don't really believe that Jesus is going to chase after you either. Rather, it has to be your choice.
I know that He is waiting, and as soon as you turn towards home, He'll come running out to greet you and welcome you back. Please hear me when I say that is true of me as well... after all, I love you!
I know a deep sorrow, but should you choose to return, it will be worth it all. I will help you in whatever way I can. All you have to do is ask. I am here.
I know what you don't want me to know, but the first step towards healing will be telling me yourself.
Patricia -- aka my Little Person -- is the 3-year-old daughter of my best friend Joanna. In May 2014, doctors discovered a tumor in her right lung, which turned out to be a rare form of childhood cancer. Through surgery and nine months of chemo, my Little Person has persevered. But no surprise there. She's been a fighter since birth.
So thrilled to be celebrating my strong, brave little one today.
With it being Valentine's Day weekend, my thoughts naturally turn to love.
I started out wanting to write some profound blog post about love. But over the last few days, I've heard others say it far better than I could so I'll let them speak.
"Love is denial of one's self for the sake another, expecting nothing in return."
-- Andy, my mentor, truth-teller and butt-kicker.
"Love is a choice. It is the action of persevering through hard times. Putting someone before yourself. It's choosing the hard, good path instead of the easy, selfish one. You don't have to know someone to love them. You just have to choose to. Who can you choose to love today?"
--Nicole, a very wise 18-year-old friend.
"The real romantics know that stretchmarks are beauty marks, and that different shaped women fit into the different shapes of men souls, and that real romance is really sacrifice." Ann Voskamp, writer.
Their words challenge me. Powerful stuff. And hard. But so good. And so needed.
I want to be loved unconditionally and sacrificially. Yet, I sometimes find myself struggling to love others the same way. (It seems the "me! mine! my way!" thing I had when I was 3 never really went away.)
Valentine's Day is a great reminder that I am cherished and I cherish another. But there's plenty of life to be lived the rest of the year. Loving people well -- offering grace and forgiveness; overlooking a fault; consistently putting others before myself; allowing others to make missteps and mistakes; thinking the best of others -- is how I want to live this one life.
I'm finding that much of life is lived in the routine and in the mundane and mostly out of view. It's in these every day places that I want to put feet to my love, and where the battle to love well is fought and won. It's one thing to say I love someone. It's entirely another to walk it out through my actions.
It somehow seems unfair that pain, grief and suffering are already present just days into the new year. These unwelcome guests have showed up in the lives of those dear to me and plan to stick around for a while.
Thursday night, I received a call that a precious friend whom I love deeply has an aggressive form of cancer that has spread. The man who taught me how to fight now has quite the fight ahead of him in the days to come.
Also Thursday, another friend and former co-worker was taken off life support and all medications and we now wait. Wait to see if she makes a miraculous recovery even with no brain activity. Or wait to hear the unthinkable. How a stomach bug became a heart attack makes absolutely no sense to me.
I don't get it. It's in times like this that I wonder: is God still good? Is he still kind? Can he still be trusted?
Some hard truths I've discovered over 30-some years of living:
We live in a broken world.
Bad things happen to good people for no reason.
Good things happen to bad people for no reason.
We pray for people and they live.
We pray for people and they die.
Life is a beautiful mess of pain and suffering and joy.
We are all going to die -- a realization that should prompt us to live in a way that matters.
Life sometimes doesn't make a lick of sense.
Losing people sucks.
Life is hard.
Life is good.
Life is still worth living and fighting for.
God doesn't promise us a pain-free life.
Photo by Suzanne Stelling
I don't know many things right now. But here's what I do know and have experienced from 20 years of being a Jesus follower:
God cares and weeps with us.
He is near.
He *loves* us extravagantly.
He uses family and friends as tangible expressions of that love.
He holds us when we can't hold on.
It's OK to be angry and confused.
God is with us in the midst of the mess.
He carries us.
He is kind.
He is faithful in the hard places.
He meets us exactly where we are.
He can still be trusted.
Weeping and sorrow may endure for some time. But joy WILL come.
God is still good even if the worst happens. Even if.