Went out of town this weekend - we went to do a purity retreat for a group of teens. It was one of those weekends where you think you know what you are going for, but then God reveals much more than you expected.
I learned from a dear friend and her teen daughter what struggles I will be facing in just a few short years, if I'm not careful, and maybe even if I am careful.
I learned that God might give me influence in her daughter's life today, in this struggle, and in a few years, He might bring someone else in to my child's life to say the very same things that I thought I would be able to say adequately. It makes me sad to think we might reach a point where my own child would desperately want to hear and believe the truth about themselves, and yet wouldn't or couldn't hear it from me. My friend has been parenting like I think I would. And in some ways even better. The faults and weaknesses she admits to having had mirror the ones I hold now. So I listen and take to heart what she says.
I acknowledge that even as I can point out to my friend that our kids are never to confuse us with Jesus, I simulateneously want to live a life where I will have done it all right so as to put no stumbling block in front of my kids. I feel more comfortable with having done it all right than with pointing my children to Jesus over and over because I haven't.
My children's faith will have become their own. But it is downright gut wrenching to watch it happen. I am just sickened at the relentlessness of our enemy and how he attacks those who might have faith in our God, even our own.
And in just the span of a few hours:
I hugged a dear woman, I fear, for the last time in this life. My God -given grandmother. She is a rock. She is one of the most consistent lovers of God I have had in my life.And so funny. Her body just isn't cooperating with her mind and spirit anymore.
It's hard to do that. - I mean have that last moment, when they are alive. I have had so many where you didn't get to have that last moment, -they were just gone.
But yesterday I did. You want to say so much, you don't want to wait for a funeral - but yet you don't want to say it now, because it's not quite the end. We both knew. And we both knew we really couldn't go there. And, because of Him, we didn't really have to.
I prayed a few years ago that God would give me another chance to see her alive. He is so gracious.
This was just so much to take in. So I sat at her feet. Small talk. Life talk. Went to get a bite to eat, and she drove with me to pick it up. Took it home so she could recover from the drive. Ate some cake.
And when the time was over, I hugged her for so long. I tried to take in the smell of her perfume and some how make it permanent, and even as I tried, I couldn't say that's what I was doing, and I knew it wouldn't last. So I kept trying harder. I know she knew. My family went out to the car, and it was just me and her alone again.
It was a gift. And heartbreaking at the same time. Funny how you can want something like this so bad, when you fear you might not get it, and yet when you do get the chance, it just makes you want the moment to last longer. How do you end that moment?
I guess you don't. It's why I'm still sitting here reliving it.
And one more gift from God this weekend.
I saw some of my family that I haven't seen since I was married. My parents were seperated just a few years before that, and there were some things that just never seemed to go back to normal, for a number of different reasons. And I have blown through town for an hour once before, but I have never really returned home. There were some who I had distanced myself from because I thought that I made them uncomfortable, or I thought that they didn't care. Or I was hurt by them.
But this time, when I had just an hour to see a few, some drove for an hour just to have the chance to say hi. Some were the ones who I didn't think cared.
Some of the family had been telling me I had been away too long. This was the first time I think I believed them - that I felt like I had a place to come back to in their lives. Funny to think that maybe if they knew that I thought that way they would be shocked. So now, for the first time in years, I think I want to go home again, for more than just an hour. Maybe it is safer than I ever thought it was. Thank goodness there were a few who hung in there patiently repeating the same message to me over and over for the last decade.
And maybe I am still just like that prodigal teen age daughter who goes through all that junk she doesn't have to because for whatever reason she can't hear the truth from the ones who really do love her after all.
Thank God for all those in life who are in it for the long haul. Thank God for Him being the ultimate example by which we learn how to do that for others.