Finding Steady Love in My Unsteady World
“Mom, I want to be home-schooled… forever!” Today was the second time in a month I’ve received this dramatic, desperate message from our seventh-grade daughter — while she was at school.
Jaycie came home three days ago wearing the jacket of a new beau, but apparently gave it back the next day. The break-up came just in time for a Valentine’s Day heartbreak.
Usually the middle school drama flares from arguments with a best friend, or jealousy from other girls. The “boy thing” is fairly new, and infrequent, fortunately. Like steering a small canoe in choppy waters, her dad and I try not to overreact — although our naturally protective nature sometimes overrules.
Speaking of true (versus not-so-true) love, a dear friend shared a wonderful passage from 1st Corinthians 13, “the love chapter” of the Bible. It seems a trustworthy litmus test through which to filter our relationships, what we call “love”, and to examine our own lives. To demonstrate, I’ll use the name “Bobby” in the place of “love”.
Bobby is patient, Bobby is kind. [He] does not envy, [he] does not boast, [he] is not proud (conceited). Bobby does not dishonor others, [he] is not self-seeking, [he] is not easily angered, [and he] keeps no record of wrongs. Bobby does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Bobby always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Makes you think, huh!? If I would have used that filter in my teenage relationships, that wisdom would have saved me years of heartache from bad choices and short-sighted decisions. (Thank God for second chances!)
Over the years, I have learned that love is a wondrous thing: delicate and fragile, yet stronger than death. Building a love that lasts is much like building a house. There are exciting moments of designing dreams and the joy of seeing them take shape. But there are moments of difficult decisions, differing opinions, compromise, hard labor, and thankless tasks. The end result, however, is worth the investment!
Ten years ago this month, my husband and I brought home our new children. Nine-year-old Jeffery (my first cousin) and his two-year-old baby half-sister, Jaycie, had been orphaned twice, so to speak. Biological mom had a substance abuse problem, then their grandmother (who’d become their caretaker) died of lung cancer. Lots of pain brought them to this moment.
Loving a child through adoption, therefore, comes with its own inherent pain of loss.
Over the last ten years, we’ve worked and prayed a lot to give these precious children “a future and a hope”, as Jeremiah 29:11 describes God’s own love for us. Family dinners, church youth group, mission trips, birthday parties, vacations and adventures, pets and plans and preparing for the future. Tutoring, counseling, laughs and lectures, three bicycles and a few bumps and bruises — all these and more are part of the tapestry of doing our best to help heal a broken life, a shattered heart.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)
My hubby and I have always been Star Trek fans. We saw an episode last week that was new to us. An alien life form was bent on destroying the Enterprise and its crew, fearing that other humans would threaten the aliens if they knew of their existence.
Captain Picard finally convinced the aliens that if they could just erase their memories of having ever met the aliens, they would no longer be a threat. Somehow, they pulled it off, and the Enterprise was not destroyed. Oh, if life were that simple!
How I wish I could erase the bad memories and the physical and emotional pain of my children. How I wish I could erase my own memories sometime — of heartache and loss, and of my own sin and bad choices — now so regretted.
I’ve lived long enough to witness first-hand the promises of God working in my life, however. God uses everything in my life – including pain and bad choices – to mold me more and more into the image of Christ. It has shaped and strengthened my faith, as well as my compassion for and wisdom to help others when they hurt and struggle.
Only two days ago, our son Jeffery announced that he plans to move to North Carolina after graduation, back with his “real mom”.
Our hearts are crushed as we tread these troublesome waters right now. Of course, his dad had the discussion with him again about what a “real mom” is and does, and that using that terminology would imply that there must be a “fake mom” in the picture. She the one who’s downstairs crying her eyes out right now. (Yes, that would be me.) Can somebody say, the mud has hit the fan? (We welcome your prayers, by the way!)
A friend of our who just got married six months ago has already been abandoned by her husband. Two other dear friends of ours have had to bury their children this month: Sean was only nineteen, and Noah was twenty– and my son’s best friend. Many hearts are shattered as I write this.
Where do we turn when our world is crumbling? When human love is undependable, and when death comes barging in the door, uninvited? How do we respond to betrayal and disillusionment, when our best-made plans go awry?
Dottie Rambo was one of the greatest gospel songwriters who ever lived. We were shocked and deeply saddened when she was killed in a bus accident in 2008. One of my favorite songs of hers is “I Go to the Rock”. Here’s just an excerpt of these powerful lyrics, based upon the timeless truths of God’s Word:
“I go to the Rock of my salvation, I go to the Stone that the builders rejected. I run to the Mountain, and the Mountain stands by me.”
Jesus described the stark contrast between one who’s house is built upon the sand, versus one who’s house was built upon the solid rock. Both would experience storms, floods, high winds, and all the turbulence life is sure to bring. But the end result would differ significantly. (Read the story here.)
My house, my faith, my life — they’re all built upon the Rock, Christ Jesus, the One who does not change. He’s the God who said, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or lack compassion for the child of her womb? Even if these forget, yet I will not forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15)
Friend, if we place our trust in Christ alone, we can stand upon His promise to work everything out for our good! (Romans 8:28) We can trust that nothing will separate us from His great love! (See Romans 8:38-39) We find comfort in knowing that God is closest when we are brokenhearted. (Psalm 34:18)
At all times, but especially when my heart is broken, I will trust in what I know is true — no matter what. God is love, and His love never fails. He proved His love by His sacrificial death upon the cross. (Romans 5:8) His grace will sustain us through the best and worst of times, and He is a Healer of broken hearts. I’m living proof!
By the way, for those who were aware of my tumor surgery in December, it turned out to be a “low-grade cancer” (of the appendix). We are thankful to God that it appeared to all be contained in the mass they removed, and I require no radiation, chemo, etc., only bloodwork and CT scans every few months. God is merciful! (Thanks to all who are praying for me and our family!)
May you know the powerful, intimate love of God today and in the days to come. Happy Valentine’s Day!
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