Monday, January 2, 2012

That's love

While half the world was busy breaking the resolutions they made yesterday, Beve and I were keeping the resolutions we've made every year since year one when we decided not to make any resolutions at all. We're not really resolution-type people.  Partly, we know that resolutions tend to be broken because those who make them tend to be flawed, undisciplined and not up to the task of the deep changing such resolutions require--least on our own. But specifically, of course, we're just plain not resolution-type folks. We don't follow through with even dinner plans about half the time. If you don't believe me, ask our kids.

However, we did start this morning with a very intentional conversation--one which found Beve kneeling at the foot of our bed while I sat in it (kneeling is pretty hard on my nerve-shattered left leg).  Then Beve went off to school to work for a few hours, preparing for the onslaught that comes walking through his door when the bell rings tomorrow morning. (Unfortunately, he won't be sitting in his chair when that bell rings because there was a very serious house fire across town in the wee hours this morning and a family lies in the ICU in Harborview Hospital in Seattle as a result. This means that Beve, and the emergency response team, will be in the children's classrooms to talk to their peers about this tragedy.)

While he was working at his desk, I piled our Christmas decorations onto our dining room table, then sat down with some tea and toast.  And then our dogs alerted me--"Intruder, intruder!" Well, not really. Just someone knocking at our door. It was an old friend passing through town.  As I opened the door and saw him, I reached into my pocket, pulling out my phone to call Beve home. This man was the principal of the middle school where Beve worked before moving to this current job, and during those years was one of Beve's closest friends. We shared a whole lot with TM and his family back in our Sequim, WA days. SK and their daughter had tea parties together, our son and one of theirs played basketball together. TM and his wife, M, sat in Grampie's hot tub with us and we talked about our children, our mutual faith in Jesus, our failings and our dreams. And sometimes, just the ridiculous daily stuff that I can't possibly remember now that made us laugh back then. You know, just real life stuff.

Then we moved away. And then they moved away. And you know how these things go. Our friendship inevitably changed. TM and Beve speak on the phone every now and then...but very, very rarely now.  A few years ago, they called up and asked if they could stay with us for a weekend because TM was running a half marathon up here. We were glad to be with them, though I was speaking at a women's retreat here in town so was hardly around, and only to sleep. But that night, they told us of the very painful time they were in with one of their children.  Pain beyond any we ever imagined back when we were sitting in that hot tub, or on their back deck. Beyond any ANY parent imagines.  It was back-breaking pain for them then, and--to be honest--for us to hear.  Scary pain.  I remember how I sat up very late with MM, even though I had to speak the next morning about--of all remarkable things--the Resurrection Garden, and how the wrenching conversation with them, then with her so impacted me that my talk was, of course, informed and deepened by it.

Today, TM told us more of their journey with this son.  The very present, unremitting pain with this much loved adult child. We spoke of how innocent we'd been when our children were hardly able to tie their own shoes, how little we guessed of what God might require of us in loving them.  How deep and wide the wounds of a parent can be. There were many tears this morning in this strong man who loves his son as much today as he did the moment he first held him. Tears in us as we listened, remembering the sweet boy who is now at the mercy of  his own once-made choices that he can no longer control.  "He is an addict," our friend said.  It is not a sentence he ever imagined saying.  He speaks a language he didn't want to learn in a land he doesn't want to dwell because he loves his son.

After he left and I was following Beve to leave a car at an auto shop (yep, always something around here), I was thinking about the pain TM feels. It was very heartbreaking.  But then it hit me.  This is what God feels. Exactly TM's pain. Yes, exactly. TM sitting in our living room with his voice breaking because of his great love for his broken son? It's just about the best picture I've ever had of God's love for us. This is how God feels about us--this heart-breaking, I-don't-care-what-it-costs, love. TM would do anything to help his son. Anything. And that's what God did. Love so deep, so unending that He Incarnated Himself for the express purpose of transforming us.

That's love.
With a capital L.

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