|Yes, that IS a snake. :)|
My son is older, processing divorce, loss, and regrets of what he's never known in a way he's never had to before. The divorce happened when he was so young--only 15 months old, and there are so many questions that are unanswered for him.
While eating dinner quietly together one evening this week, his eyes suddenly filled with tears in the middle of our conversation. Fears, cares, uncertainty spilled from his mind and out of his mouth at our little kitchen table.
He's only 7. Only 7 and a half. I thought to myself, listening to him trying to explain emotions bigger and deeper than he can comprehend. Haltingly and carefully, his words stumbled out--sometimes he couldn't find the right words for what he wanted to say. Sometimes, his profound insight staggered me.
I realized a few months ago, that in all my search for wholeness and healing in the wake of divorce, I was trying to somehow make it okay. I felt that someday we would both reach a place where what had happened was "okay." One night while lying in bed, approaching 7 years of living this life I didn't choose, I began to accept that there are elements of it that will never be okay. It was a loss. This week I heard loss described not as a wound, but as an amputation. I had always thought of loss as a wound that would heal--scarred, yes, but healed completely. But loss is better described as an amputation--a part of you is always gone.
With an amputation, you do heal, you do move on, but something is missing. Lying there in my bed, alone, that night, I realized that I had to accept that we would always feel the loss. I had to look briefly at the days stretching in front of us--school events, graduations, his eventual marriage, my future grandchildren--and acknowledge that all of those things will be affected by this life event.
We may always feel the loss, but I am determined that we are going to continue to walk through this life graciously--learning from it, not allowing bitter roots to grow in our hearts. We may feel the loss, but we are not going to let it define us negatively. And we can be happy, joyful, expectant, and hopeful.
I love where we are at now--nearing 7 years down this road. I love it because we have hindsight. I don't wonder if God's going to come through for us anymore. I can just stand where we are, with my arm around my son's shoulders, and point back down to the valleys. With certainty, I can tell my son: Look at what God did. Look how He used that circumstance to get us ready for this one. Look at how He gave an answer, cleared the way, rescued us. Look at how He's provided for us. Look at how He's blessed us.
I have more hope now than I ever had. Truly. An opening line in my journal this week stated: These are happy days.
They really are. Some of the best days of my life have been lived in the past 7 years. The loss, the amputation, spurred me on to live life in a way I never would have before. The John Newton quote comes to mind: “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.”
I wouldn't change my life. I wouldn't have chosen this path, but I surely wouldn't change it now. I hear my son's pain, and am so grateful. Don't misunderstand me. If I could take it away I would. If I could change what he's feeling, I would. But I am grateful because my son is talking, pushing through, seeking understanding, watching how I respond, searching for truth...and he's going to be better for it. I don't understand this about God, but I know this about Him--He uses hard things, tough days, hurtful situations to shape us, refine us, and make us into the people that He imagined us to be when He created us.
He's trusted my boy with hurt and loss sooner than He trusted me, which leads me to believe His plan for my son's life is beautiful. And good.
This prayer for my son rises in my heart this morning:
14My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, 15this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. 16I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit--not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength--17that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, 18you'll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! 19Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. 20God can do anything, you know--far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.