So a couple of weeks ago, I went to visit the grave of my Beloved. It doesn’t seem like it’s been a year and then again, it feels like a lifetime ago. My daughter and I painted some rocks worn smooth by time to commemorate the time he has been gone. My 2 grandchildren were with us and asked, “Is Papa coming down to visit us today?” My daughter replied, ” Papa’s in heaven. You won’t see him today, but he sees us and one day he will return.” They picked their favorite rocks and placed them on the mound which he now sleeps under.
It seems surreal that his body lays there and that we are separated by about 6 feet of dirt and yet by dimensions of time that we cannot yet cross through. Can a hole in the ground hold a heart that was bigger than the universe…a love larger than all the souls of men?
My daughter wept…for the man who gave her love, taught her about the real meaning of love, held her, wept with her, encouraged her, taught her and never judged her. One who loved her boys and knew they would grow to be better men than the ones before them.
I wept with her for feeling inadequate to fill that void now left within her because the only man she really trusted to be truthful, unselfish, loving, kind and with a sense of humor that lit up a room. He loved her dry wit and understood her.
I wept for the memories I hold tight within a heart now broken and yet knowing he would admonish me for not living to my fullest and not allowing my face to shine before others and so I go on.
I struggle to write, to share all our Father gave us. I know the sun will shine and the pain will subside. I just miss my best friend holding my hand and reminding me how much my Father loves me and cares for me.
So I will go onward, looking for him in every full moon, every sunrise and sunset, every new bloom and the smell of fall in the air, the first snowflake, every song I sing and play, and every night I pray and wait to hear his voice, his encouragement, his love. For now, the echoes are what remain, but I remember always his last words every night to me…love still abides and it does.
Just read a young mother’s post on her blog about an impending divorce. Don’t know all the details but did identify with the feelings she is facing.
It was almost 30 years ago I met my high school sweetheart. He was a jock wrestler, which I didn’t know at the time or probably wouldn’t have gone out with him. Most of the friends I had that joined sports ended up leaving their old friends behind for the popularity game.
Jeff and I would attend community college together and marry before we headed to University…so much for a honeymoon. The next 4 years we spent with him in Engineering school and I in Nursing. Many of our high school friends were at university also and married. The single guys would jest with him that he must be “getting it all the time”. How crude but also untrue.
In the 80’s AIDS was still pretty new on the scene and being in Nursing school helped me draw some necessary lines due to my husband’s infidelity. He’d pretty much been a MENSA pothead and alcohol user since he was preteen. I, on the other hand, never did drugs and after having an alcoholic wifebeater for a dad, I stayed away from alcohol. We’d fought a lot about his DUI’s and indiscretions during our high school and college years and I withdrew sexually from him in the 2nd year of our 4 year marriage. He continued his bad habits until my junior year in nursing school and then decided his husbandly rights were being violated one night after a long day at the hospital and studying for midterms.
I woke up to pressure on my chest and by the time I figured out he was on top of me and forcing himself on me, it was too late. I begged him not to do this. He knew about my past as a victim of child sexual abuse and I had worked so hard I think because of my past to ignore his infidelities, figuring maybe it was my own fault…that I wasn’t NORMAL. I participated in all he wanted to do and dabbled in porn videos early in our marriage because that’s what he wanted, but this night he just told me to lay there, B—-and it will be over soon. I cried. I laid still and somewhere in it, I fell asleep. The next year is a blur of continued violation when I least expected it and then he graduated and separated from me, going for a job in civil service.
I thought it would be easier with him gone, but it wasn’t. Now, I was alone to face the pain of the past, the failing of my marriage, and the beginning of my senior year. I went into a depression and thank God for a couple of wonderful friends who found me at the bottom of my misery, alone in my trailer, no food, no money, and no hope.
It took me a month to eat lettuce. Jeff had seen to it that I was left with a junky car, debts from credit cards I got as a senior which he used to buy dinner and gifts for other women, and with my mother out of the country, I had not help from family. I thought about going to the police about the rape but in the 80’s…they just laughed and said what everyone else said…he’s your husband..so it’s not rape. ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Like my body wasn’t my own. in those days, women had to have their husbands sign sterilization papers or they couldn’t obtain the necessary surgery regardless of the threat to their health and being left with multiple children and no support. Sounds crazy, right?
Believe it or not, I tried to reconcile twice that year. I think because my parents were divorced when no one else in our neighborhood was and they labeled us as their children, some ugly names and apparently my mother who worked two jobs became a swinger. The only swinging she did was swing shifts from assembly line work to nights as a hotel housekeeper. I didn’t want to be labeled a divorcee’. After an attempt at the second reconciliation and exhausting my student loan money on his reckless spending, I went to my university law school and the kind gentleman told me I could get a lawyer for free as a student. Finally, some sunshine in my dark world.
We had to threaten him with jail time for running up credit cards that weren’t his, but he finally signed and I got my divorce 3 days before I graduated nursing school. He attended my graduation; I’m not exactly sure why, but he mentioned how I had changed my name on my degree and I countered with why would I have his name on a degree I earned and that truth be told my name should be on his engineering degree since I pushed him all the way through. He said I looked great. I replied that the starvation diet is an amazing way to lose weight. He proceeded to follow my friends and i the whole night like some predator waiting to pounce. I went home a few months later and he found out I was in town and accosted me at a gas station and grabbed me by the arm saying I was his. I told him that might have been true once, but never again. He pretty much trashed me with friends in my hometown, being there a year before me. Many felt uncomfortable and just disappeared into the background of life. Some would still welcome me, knowing how bad he was and they encouraged me to keep my head up.
I remember still the day the judge asked me if I wanted my own name back. I felt somewhat like the slaves when they were set free. Who is that? I hadn’t known that name for 9 years and I held someone else’s name for 4 years. I replied yes, but not really sure about the mess of feelings laying within me.
I’ve been remarried now 26 years. He’s kind, generous, compassionate, loyal, and we’ve had 2 children. Is life happier? Soimewhat. I can honestly say it’s safer. We talk. We’ve loved, but we’ve also realized that we thought we knew what love was, but we didn’t . He tries but struggles trying to find the reins for what he calls, a “mustang”. It’s sad that after all this time we find ourselves friends, but without purpose. We have a type of love, but not the forever eternal kind of love. I have tried to love many times, but been loved my only one. One who knew the One who loves unconditionally, whole-heartedly and eternally. I knew him for 15 years and he was a most precious friend who taught me the beauty that God placed within me, the love God intended and the pain of losing a friend most precious in his giving and forgiving spirit. He died 6 months ago and so now I continue in the love he showed me and the faith I have that I will see him again.
My husband feels the same way. He’s lost a brother in the Lord and his example can only be described as one of a kind. We now find ourselves united in our grieving for one who showed us how love never fails and still abides in the memories we share together. We live each day now trying to give to one another as friends and parents and grandparents.
There seem to be so many definitions of love today and definitely love is manifested in diverse ways. If God is love and love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 [a]bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails;
Then it must follow that God is all these things and that He, also, never fails. But in a world so confused, perverted from His original purpose and with the ability to choose its own path, Love appears to struggle in it’s manifestation.
We look for identities still in what we do, who we know and how many are on the same path as we are. Paul states in the Word that we should imitate him as he imitates the one he follows. Can we say the same?
Throughout the years I have run across many people in the world who have a bad opinion of so-called believers and their actions and words. And in the same conversation, they will tell me that I’m different from the other “christians” they’ve met.
There was a time when I would have embraced the term, “Christian”. I am not opposed to others using the term, but I prefer to tell them I have one Father, one Messiah, and I follow the way His Word teaches. I go where and when he says, Go and I leave when He says , “Leave”, but I always present myself as loving in the way my Father also loved and His Son.
I know not everyone who calls themselves, “Christians” defines themselves the same way, but shouldn’t our actions speak loudly of the love and forgiveness we have received. There is much in the world that is not love, but is defined as such. I cannot speak for the actions of another, but only for my own. I pray we all take time to examine ourselves and the walk we choose and the One we claim to serve and be sure that all agree before others call us ‘hypocrites’ and condemn not only us but the One we claim to serve. To be persecuted for righteousness sake does not mean because we think we are right and others disagree that we are persecuted; not to say, there aren’t times when we are right in the eyes of God and others persecute us for having the audacity to speak His truth in the midst of a dark generation.
Was watching a Joyce Meyer program this morning with Beth Moore. I remember my best friend attending her studies at church before many knew about her in Christian circles. I went to look online and see what new bible studies she had out and the blog I googled in on was blasting back and forth on her scriptural accuracy (no examples were given), the audacity of having her name on her business and not her husband’s (I don’t know, does it legitimize it more to have a man’s name on a business or can he be a silent partner?), and the fact that she gave back the baby she adopted from one of her relatives after 7 years of struggling to care for him. They accuse her of not being forthright or transparent enough with the public, seeing that she is a teacher of the Word and held doubly accountable for her teaching and preaching. They stated she is too emotional and dynamic and alluded to reasons why as being that she had something to hide.
Perhaps after years of ministry in the church and teaching both in the professional nursing world and bible studies, I find that people feel like they have the right to inspect others whom they do not know personally. There were a few on the above blog that did come back with the comment that it all sounded like a bunch of gossip and I agree. Accuracy and integrity are important as a teacher, but reading someone’s book or hearing a slip of news in the media really doesn’t provide an accurate nor moral viewpoint as to a person’s character. There are some things you can learn over time with someone and more that you can learn when you actually walk with them, pray with them, cry with them and perhaps, at times, discipline them.
I am sure Beth is used to being in the public eye by now, but perhaps others forget. Those who serve, love, persevere in a church, family, business and find success, at times are still people. They are daughters, sons, husbands, friends, and sometimes unfortunately, imposters. I have facilitated a few of her studies and she is dynamic, emotional, but also passionate about her beliefs and sincere and honest. She, as a woman, is able and eager to share with her sisters and embrace their pain as well as open herself to the vulnerability it takes to speak to others about what most of us think we can hide inside…pain. She balances it with her love for the One, who healed her and continues to encourage and lead her and the One she holds herself accountable to, her Father and Savior.
There are always things in scripture, we can debate but the manner in which we do so should also demonstrate love and respect for God’s creations of man in His image and likeness. It serves no good to call out possible inaccuracies in character or teaching if you have to break the same Word you are holding them accountable for. Love is most important and yet somehow it is forgotten in the name of defending God…as if He needs defending. We are His Witnesses and I believe we must be able to ask the difficult questions regarding truth, but we must also make sure we do not work for the adversary and condemn our own brethren. Go in private to them first, but that would require a relationship with the person and I don’t think sitting under someone’s teaching, reading their book or going to their church can give a totally accurate picture of the person. We also will be held accountable for every word proceeding out of our own mouths and if we concern ourselves with that, we might not have time to sit in judgement of others so eagerly.
Sharing experiences, good and bad, can be helpful to us all, but sometimes we must have the courage to find out for ourselves when opportunities arise for learning. Many cried out in the crowd, “Crucify Him!” and they killed the innocent One who came to save them.
So I leave with a few words from Matthew 5:
9:Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God.
10Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: 12Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets that were before you.
The past couple of weeks, I’ve been working with a friend on building a bunk bed from pine. He has been a woodcutter a long time and it has been an amazing journey as we went out to select our trees. I didn’t know that pines grow straighter in the gulleys. Why? They’re reaching for the light and so there are less limbs because they must use all their energy to push toward the light.
I learned to use a draw knife to strip away the bark and then watched and waited for the sap to ooze out of the half frozen logs and ran my hands down them to seal them in. We measured and cut and began to piece the bed together. Jason was able to share a particular log with me from an Aspen he’d been eyeing for a while. It had mountain lion claw marks running up it and we used it for the upper fascia to cover the long board across.
As we worked, we talked, we laughed and sometimes….we cried. It’s been two years since Jason’s father died and the saw mill was one he bought for his dad and him to build a house together with a special room for his dad. Through family battles after his father’s death, his inheritance was stolen from him and there are a few things that remain important to him. He learned much from his grandfather and father and his desire to create things the old way is one of those gifts. The bed will take longer than expected as Jason finds inspiration as the bed goes up and the plan gets more customized.
I will treasure the adventures we have taken into the forest, searching for just the right trees, finding hidden surprises as a mama rabbit ran and Jason tried to teach me how to throw his jacket over her and she would freeze. Alas, she ran too quickly, but I learned much that day. The scars on the aspens from animals seeking food (supposedly an aspirin-like compound beneath the bark they like) drip with their life-giving blood, the few rose hips, ripe and red, left behind from the scavenging birds and wild animals, and the trees once laden with beautiful leaves of gold now standing white and tall and surrounded by the evergreen pines. The gift of pine pitch, resin forced into the bottom of a tree when struck by lightning of fire, in an effort to save it’s life-giving source and the wonderful symbolism of the largest organism on the planet all interconnected by one male that clones itself and creates an interwoven web of life that stretches across wide sections of the earth. The beauty of trees, all standing amongst one another, all reaching for light and all serving a purpose for the world around them as a source of food, medicine, shelter and warmth.
It reminds me that we are all connected to one male, one savior, who we attempt to be like. We attempt to reach for more light and grow straighter, providing food for the hungry, healing for the sick, shelter for the refugee, and the warmth of a love that is unconditional and extends beyond prayer, embracing another who needs love as we are also embraced by His love like the trees reaching higher toward the light and yet always planted firmly in the ground. A source of strength, power, simplicity and inspiration.
So tonite, I reflect on those strong trees in our own life that reached for the light, pulling themselves out of the gulleys of darkness and loneliness to serve a greater purpose. So when my grandson lays down on his ‘big boy” bed one night, I pray he will sense that strength and friendship and love and light that built his bed; all working together to produce something greater in life.
Last week I faced physical pain and heartache that kept me from meeting some social obligations. People inquired where I was and sent good wishes, but one person emailed me with words of disappointment that I had not met their expectations, their invitation and that they couldn’t deal with my depression.
For those of you following, I lost my beloved of 15 years 4 months ago and my birthday in September and now the upcoming holidays have kept me in a whirlwind of foggy days and restless nights as I trod uphill through mountains of bills, valleys of loneliness and reality that all has changed.
My daughter replied, when I told her,”How petty”. I said that my flesh hurt for her, which my daughter promptly replied with a “Humphf!” I said, this lady struggles with depression and drinks to deal with it. She has led a long life with many exciting turns but all she wanted was her children. Her son was injured in an accident at 17 and long story short, she has waited 27 years to get him back. Court battles and the realities of never having grandchildren or enjoying the children she had, has left her lonely and negligent perhaps. Her pain has left her sensitive to the pain of others but unfortunately also overwhelmed by the pain of others. My loss is like a tree falling on her and I understood that.
My daughter’s response is because she has seen us minister to so many and yet not much return compassion. I have learned not to expect that from others, but I must admit at this particular time in my life, it does hurt. I do struggle. I have little energy for the pain of others as I nurse my own wounds. I forgive and I love. It is not easy, but seeing the pain of others stirs within me a greater pain. The pain that many do not know the Giver of Life as I do and even though I walk through a valley so dark now, I know He is on the other side. I know He walks with me. I know He loves me. So I have a greater friend who sees my pain, heals it and wraps His love around me. So I will go to her home tomorrow to share a wonderful dinner with her and share that which He has given me…grandchildren, children, laughter and hope. It may not impact her life for long, but nonetheless, I will give that which has been given to me….love.
So for those of you who are finding yourselves alone amidst the frivolity of the holidays…I wish I could be there. I am there. My world changed 4 months ago, but when I am alone I will cry, hold myself and pray that I will be stronger tomorrow, sleep deeper tonite and dream of things that were, that are and that will be. So rest tonite and tomorrow….run toward the light, laugh, jump, smile and take a deep breath….and find someone who needs your love and love them!