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Missing the point

If you’ve been following this blog recently, you saw a photograph I had made of my children.  I had a wonderful young photographer take two precious pictures and unite them to show that while my son is in heaven, he is still with those who loved him, particularly his sisters.  Lest you misunderstand, I do not believe that he is hovering around in a ghostly form nor does he appear when summoned.  That is a topic for another day…

Most people who’ve seen the photo get it.  They understand what it represents.  A few do not.  It doesn’t really matter to me whether others understand, I only care what my girls think.  I had it made it for them.  I know that when they look at it they completely understand my motivation and my heart.  It was an expression of love that says to them “I know.” “I know that you are grieving.  I know that you love him and miss him so very much.  I know that you hold the same hope as I that we will see him again.  I know.”

I can only imagine my anguish and disappointment if they had received this labor of intense love and simply said “Thanks.  That’s nice.”  It would have broken my heart if they missed the point, if they did not let it bless them and comfort them in some way.

In Monday night bible study we are digging deep in to the book of James.  James was writing to a fellowship of Jewish believers.  Jews who had been steeped in the Law yet had discovered Grace.  His instructions in this particular letter indicate they were struggling with the letting go of the demands of the Law they had spent their lives endeavoring to follow.  As we discuss the verses, we often allow a little speculation and imagination as we try to understand how James’ audience was responding to his words…

They knew that Jesus had died for their sins and that He taught that the Law had been fulfilled, but I wonder how many of them still quietly slipped into the temple area and continued to make the sacrifices they had always done.  Just in case.  Keeping the Law as their back-up plan in case they had misunderstood this Grace that says sacrifice was no longer needed…

I am pursuing this Grace with a determination to get it.  To understand more and more what it is and what effect it is supposed to have on my life.  Yet even while I read the words and know with my brain that Grace says no more sacrifices are required for sin, I still often find myself caught in self-condemnation or works of penance, spending hours or even days mentally and emotionally beating myself up when I have missed the mark.  Part of it is habit – I’ve spent a lifetime believing that this was the correct response to sin in my life. But I wonder how much of this is my back-up plan, the efforts put forth just in case I have misunderstood the freedom of Grace…

How this must grieve the heart of my Father!  He provided the perfect sacrifice for me, a price paid that is beyond my comprehension, so that I could be blessed and comforted and helped and delivered and free.  I want to fall with abandon into this Grace.  I want to live my life in the freedom purchased for me, not wasting my time trying to obtain something that has already been given.  Big Daddy Weave is a group of Christian artists who produced a wonderful song entitled “Redeemed.”  I love the song and it’s in my top 10 favorites because much of it speaks to me.  But there is a particular line that rings so loudly in my soul every time I hear it and I leave you with it today:

“Stop fighting a fight that’s already been won.”

 

Missing the Point” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

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Chiseled by trial

After weeks of rain, last week produced wonderfully mild temperatures and gorgeous days!  Now settled into the new home and rested from the intensity of the move, it was time to embark on the adventure of mapping out my new route to walk, and eventually run.  Thank goodness for maps on my phone – this subdivision is quite large and with my inability to naturally navigate, I could have been lost for days without it!  I decided on an easy loop that will provide enough distance to begin again, slowly getting back to a regular routine after months of sporadic efforts.

I was a bit over-zealous on day one of this new course, but having given my legs quite the workout during our move I fell into a familiar rhythm and delighted in the beauty of the day.  Day two was even better, cutting a couple of minutes from my finished time.  By day three, I imagined with every move of my slightly sore muscles that they were quickly becoming very toned underneath this layer I hope to shed.  It felt good to move and good to be sore, indications that my muscles are becoming stronger even if unseen by the human eye.

As I dreamed of a fit body with muscles clearly defined, the word “chiseled” came to mind.  I laughed at the thought of that particular word every being applied to my appearance again, but it had come up in Tuesday morning bible study as we’ve been looking at wisdom:

When swelling and pride come, then emptiness and shame come also, but with the humble – those who are lowly, who have been pruned or chiseled by trial, and renounce self – are skillful and godly Wisdom and soundness.  Proverbs 11:2

Trials come to us all.  How we respond to them is our choice.  But no matter what we choose – whether we seek to find the good and embrace the hardships with hope, or we rebel and resist and fight – the chisel is at work.  It is chipping and carving and cutting and will reveal a finished work.  For those who fight, this tool of trials carves the hardship into the soul as if it can never be forgotten, a constant reminder of pain.  But for those who yield to the chisel in the Master’s hand, their form changes with every cut, the details and definition of His likeness lovingly revealed in the masterpiece He had in mind.  Wisdom is humbling ourselves before a God Who is so much more than we can comprehend.  A God so good that we can trust Him with the difficulties of this life, confident that He is working something beautiful that is yet to be seen.

While I cannot see all the muscles that are shaping up, gaining strength and definition, I am confident this work is taking place every time I work out.  In the same way, I take confidence in the fact that God is working even in the trials, or perhaps especially in the trials.  You may not be able to see it yet, but with every faith step I take His chisel at work making me what I ought to be.

 

The post “Chiseled by trial” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

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Nothing prepares the heart…

Stinnetfinal2

…for this kind of love or this kind of loss…

there was a time i was afraid i would not love them enough

these beautiful souls He had entrusted to me

then discovered it was a wellspring that could not be stopped

depths that could not be spoken and

bonds that could not be broken

by the mere limitations of this earth

i celebrate this love we share

i hold tightly the memories

and the wonderful hope that one day we will all be together again

in His love

in His presence

forever

“Nothing prepares the heart…” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on ourpassionatepurpose.com   

Photograph by Kay Stinnett and Andi Campbell and cannot be used without permission.

Bible, Christian, church, Encouragement, Faith, family, friends, God, grace, grief, Jesus, love, praise, prayer, sorrow, Spiritual, tears, worship

When the tears will not be stopped

For the better part of my life I have been a closet-crier.  Tears did not come often but when they did I hid them.  Whether they were tears of sadness, anger, or frustration, as a child I lacked the ability to clearly communicate why I was crying and in our home tears for no good reason were tears that should be stopped. I became very good at stopping this unwanted watery overflow.  Through the years I prided myself in my ability to withstand this messy display of emotion, seeing myself as a rock of self-control.  So when the dam gave way without warning, I was caught quite off guard.  I found my previously strong will was no match for this deluge that had broken through, years of suppressed emotion flooding my life.

This most unwelcome event happened at the lowest point in my life.  Angry, sad, and depressed at the bleakness of my circumstances, the tears poured forth without mercy and I no longer had any resistance.  My only consolation was that I was alone.  No one saw the red nose and puffy eyes day after day, no one was privy to the anguish of my soul as I stayed hidden from the world.  I cried more than I believed humanly possible and I hated it.

Much occurred between me and God during this time.  In His goodness He drew me close, renewed by faith, and restored my hope.  But He left my heart more tender than it had ever been and He didn’t stop the tears.

I cry so easily now.  I won’t say that I always welcome the tears and I can’t say that I am entirely comfortable when they fill my eyes and run down my face in the presence of others.  But I have learned to yield to a heart made tender through difficulties and know that I am powerless to resist these tears that will not be stopped.  They give expression to things within that cannot adequately be described in mere words. They offer release from pain that would consume me were there no outlet.  They express the depths of the love I hold and the joy that rises from within.  They remind me of my desperate need of Him.  They usher in the Comforter and the Healer.

Sometimes they offer another a safe place to let their own tears flow with no need for explanation.

It is a difficult time of year for me and I cried as I stood at the counter of a store today.  I didn’t apologize as I would have in the past, worried that I had made someone uncomfortable and couldn’t offer them an explanation.  I simply reached for my tissues and continued with my purchase.  As I finalized the transaction, I saw from the corner of my eye that the gentleman waiting on me was wiping a tear from his own.  An uninvited, compassionate response of a stranger that will not soon be forgotten and which reminded me that we humans need tears when there are no words.

 

 

 

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Where are they?

I’ve written of this woman before, but as I’ve been in this state of receiving His grace more and more, her story will not leave me.  My previous observations were more about the accusers.  Today I am thinking of her and imagining…

She had been dragged to stand before Him.  Her head hung in shame and humiliation, their accusations cut to the core because she knew they were true.  She was guilty.  She hadn’t planned her life as it was, it just happened.  One disappointment led to another and after a while it just didn’t seem to matter any more.  She was embarrassed at her lifestyle but helpless to break the cycle.  Self-worth?  She had lost that a long time ago. This man’s attention turned her way had disguised itself as hope, love, and healing, but it the end became the reason she stood accused.

The crowd who had been sitting listening to His teaching grew strangely still.  All eyes were on her.  She couldn’t bear to look up so she just stood there with here eyes clinched tight.  She certainly couldn’t look Him in the face.  She had heard about Him.  She knew He was righteous and good, unlike the men who had captured her and most certainly the very opposite of herself.  The angry men loudly announced her indiscretions, and when He did not respond they persisted.  The ugliness of her sin repeated again and again, every word a hammer blow to her soul.  She had lived with the fear of discovery for quite some time and now must be her reckoning.

What was He doing?  He hadn’t answered the angry men.  With her head still low she dared to peek.  He’s stooped to the ground.  He’s lowered Himself as she still stands.  This is enough to get her attention and still more, the fact that He seems to be in His own little world writing on the ground as if oblivious to all that is going on around Him.  How very strange!  It appears He plans to ignore their question of what to do with this sinner but then He stands.  He speaks to them and gives them permission to stone her.  IF they are each without sin of their own.  Then He returns to His strange writing on the ground.

She cowers and braces herself for the pain.  These men never see themselves as wrong.  They are the proclaimed righteous in the community, the ones who are always pointing the fingers of blame at everyone else, the ones who fill the temple courts regularly.   The seconds following His words seem like hours.  Her eyes clinched again, her own mind screaming “GUILTY!” over and over, she doesn’t notice what has taken place.  Then His voice breaks through:

“Where are they?”

What?  He is speaking to her and she looks up.  The angry men have left!  He looks her in the eyes and asks:

“Has no man condemned you?”

She can hardly grasp it and she stammers in amazement “No one!”

“I don’t either.”

How can this be??  This wonderful, pure Man is fully aware of her guilt and yet offers no condemnation.  This undeserved forgiveness found not only in His words but also in His eyes floods her entire being.  She realizes she has come face to face with true Love.  She cannot fathom why He chose this, but her desperate soul offers no argument because in this moment she knows somehow she is changed.  She feels a freedom she had believed was lost to her.  She feels strangely empowered, able to hold her head up now and experience real Hope.  She knows without a doubt that she will never be the same so His next words are not burdensome:

“Go and sin no more.”

She can’t help it – she breaks into a smile and it is all she can do not to dance in the lightness that is now hers!  The crowd that had gathered around Jesus’ teachings is still there.  She looks around and finds the faces that were stern and uncertain when she arrived have softened. For while they weren’t the accusers that had boldly approached Him, their hearts were pierced as well when He spoke to the angry ones.  They knew of their own sin and realized that the miracle she had just received was there for them as well.  A few offer kind smiles.  Several pat the ground next to them as an invitation to sit and listen to more of what He has to say.

“I am the Light of the world.  He who follows Me will not be walking in the dark, but will have the Light which is Life.”

This day she sits with new friends, new hope, a new life.  This day she met Grace.

(John 8)

 

The post Where are they?  was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on Our Passionate Purpose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mushy oatmeal and another hard-to-swallow thing

As a child I often found myself the overnight guest of my best friend.  She was an only child and I the middle of five.  She lived with her parents and her maternal grandparents and I saw her as the center of their world. I so enjoyed my time in the midst of their love and laughter.  While I very much felt at home there, I was still bound by the rules of my upbringing, one of which was very difficult to follow on a particular morning.

My friend had fixed my breakfast.  Instant oatmeal.  My mother often made oatmeal for us but it was the real kind – old fashioned Quaker Oats that had to be cooked on the stove.  I don’t believe I had ever tasted instant oatmeal prior to that day and I must admit I found it awful.  It was mushy and flavorless and no matter how much milk or salt or butter or sugar I added, it still tasted terrible.  And while I could hardly swallow it, I stuck to the training of being a good guest, determined to eat what was served.  I certainly did not want to hurt my friend’s feelings and made a valiant effort not to let my face show that I found her oatmeal disgusting.  I failed.  One look from her Granny and she exclaimed “Get her something else to eat!  She’s gagging!!”  Granny rescued me and I was ever so thankful.

This morning I read an article that made my heart hurt.  It was just one of the many stories and posts so prevalent in today’s culture that I find hard to swallow – the public shaming of a child.  A child’s photo posted on the internet for all the world to see, their actions recounted for all the world to read, their souls most surely wounded.  I ache for them.

I confess, I used methods of correction with my children that I now see were too harsh.  I was a very strict disciplinarian who now wishes she had been gentler and kinder.  I’m sure every parent looking back would change quite a few things.  But I was a mother raising children quite a few years before the internet.  The disciplines done in the privacy of our home were not events that were broadcast to the world.  Oh, we young mothers talked among ourselves about what our children did and how we handled it.  But it was never with the intention to humiliate them into obedience.   We didn’t use shame as a method of correction.  We didn’t publish their sins.

Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others].  1 Peter 4:8

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that correction is absent.  As parents we correct.  As teachers and employers and friends there are times that actions must be confronted and redirected.  But living in the kind of love just mentioned will lead us to deal with the issues at hand while also protecting the one who has erred, giving them mercy instead of shame.  This love refuses to broadcast their mistakes.  This love is full of grace.

I will be merciful and gracious toward their sins and I will remember their deeds of unrighteousness no more.  Hebrews 8:12

Jesus gave His life to provide our absolute, complete forgiveness and promised to remember our sins no more!!  His forgiveness doesn’t mean correction is absent.  But He bore the shame and humiliation of our sin and therefore He will never use those as a method to correct us.  He gently leads and corrects and guides.  His love covers ALL our sin.

He rescued me and I am ever so thankful.

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If it sounds too good to be true…

…it probably is, right??  A cliche’ we believe to be true as we have read, heard, and perhaps experienced the get-rich-quick schemes, the impossible promises offered constantly through the media, and the ever-so-popular messages of 3 or 5 or 12 Steps To Whatever It Is We Want and the like, messages and schemes that have even found their way to a few pulpits.  It can be hard to tell the truth from the lies when they are so craftily woven together, and thus, it is very easy to become seriously skeptical of anything that isn’t a product of good old hard work and effort.

But what about grace?  It most certainly sounds too good to be true!

Grace is the undeserved favor and mercy and forgiveness of God given freely and lavishly to every believer. Just because He loves us.  We can’t earn it or work hard enough to deserve it or completely understand it.  It is a magnificent, miraculous, amazing gift that is ours to receive if we will.  Our human training has not prepared us for this.  We struggle first of all with agreeing that this grace really exists.  Then we continue to look for ways to earn it – we try to pray more, serve more, give more, work more, obey more…  Then we resist because we’ve never really accepted that we were given a new nature to replace our old sin nature, and this grace sounds like permission to sin…

We say we believe in what Jesus accomplished on the cross:  our salvation, the forgiveness of our sins, our deliverance from the powers of evil and death.  We quote the scriptures that we have been fully reconciled to God, Adam’s failure no longer our legacy, and sing the praises of being an heir of Almighty God, a joint-heir with Jesus Himself.  Yet we struggle.  We are constantly examining ourselves and others, finding fault in our humanity and living as if the failures we see will somehow change our position before God.  We’ve been trained to be sin-conscious rather than grace-conscious.  We have been freed from the power of sin but continue to give sin power over us because it’s what we focus on.  What would our lives be like if we focused on grace?

James writes:

“But He gives us more and more grace – power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency (our unfaithfulness to God) and all others fully.  That is why He says, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace continually to the lowly – those who are humble enough to receive it.”  4:6

Grace is power.  He gives it.  Our part:  receive.  Just take it.  Whenever you sin, quickly confess and take the grace that assures you God hasn’t moved in His love and favor towards you.  This is how we live in the freedom Jesus died for!  We can trust this grace.  It will never lead us to sin.  In fact, it will do exactly the opposite:

“For the grace of God – His unmerited favor and blessing – has come forward for the deliverance from sin and the eternal salvation for all mankind.  It (the grace of God) has trained us to reject all ungodliness and worldly desires, to live discreet, upright, devout lives in this present world.”  Titus 2:11-12

This grace will teach and train us not to sin!!!  All our self-efforts falls dramatically short in this endeavor. Grace does not mean that we become unaware of sin.  The Holy Spirit will always convict and correct, but because of Jesus this is done without condemnation.  Did you get that??  His correction is always done in love with no judgement, no accusations.  We can only grasp this if we began to focus on His amazing grace.

Too good to be true?  In the natural, yes.  But we were made to be aliens inhabiting this natural world.   When we came to Christ we became citizens of the kingdom of God, the supernatural realm where grace rules.  Just say “Yes!”

 

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A temporary life

At this exact time last year I was packing up an entire house in order to move, a decision forced upon us for which we were unprepared.  It was a hectic, pressure-filled week and I don’t remember ever having worked so hard.  We chose a new residence that we knew would be temporary, unsure of exactly how long we would remain.  And now it’s time to move again.  Tomorrow I will be in search of boxes to pack the few things here and I’m completely excited that the vast majority of our belongings are sitting in storage in already packed, labeled boxes just waiting to be moved to their new home.  This will be by far the easiest move I have ever made and there have been quite a few of them. To the best of my recollection, this will be #28.

I made a list this morning of all the places that I can remember having lived.  This revealed an interesting range of habitats:  small houses, large houses, a nice mobile home and an awful, old mobile home, really nice apartments and a not-so-nice one, and a room in the back of my workplace that was no wider than my queen size bed where I lived quite happily for one year.  Ten years was the longest period spent in one place.  As a child, I don’t remember having an opinion about our moves one way or the other; I suppose I thought that every family moved quite often.  As a teenager it began to be more important to me and I remember crying when the announcement was made that we would be moving out of our five bedroom home into a three bedroom mobile home.  My tears were not prompted by the idea of a mobile home but rather the fact that I would have to give up a room to myself and once again share a room with my little sister.  (Sorry, Sis…)

We’ve often joked in our family that we surely have gypsy blood.  I suppose some may think the many moves would have formed deep insecurities for us as children, when in fact they prepared us for adventures in this life.  They kept us from holding on too tightly and attaching our security to “things”.  For me, change has always come with hope – an expectation of good things for the future (with the exception of the aforementioned room-sharing transition.)  Some of the moves were simply changes in geography with no other effects on my life.  Others brought new friends and experiences and fresh, new perspectives on love and life and God.

This is a temporary life.  In the big scheme of eternity it is a wisp, a vapor.  Yet it is significant in this grand plan and we are innately programmed to make something of it.  Our lives are wisps of time that each have God’s full attention.  Without this knowledge we spin our wheels in futility and struggle to hold on to what will not last.  We endeavor to build secure lives that will protect us from the difficult, the unexpected, the unplanned, when the reality is that none of us know what will happen tomorrow.  Without knowing that God sees us and is ever ready to lead, guide, love, and help, we crumble when life deals a hard blow.  We have no real hope without Him.

I am excited about our move.  It will be the nicest house I have ever lived in and my mind has already filled its rooms with our things even though the movers won’t be there until Saturday.  It’s a lovely house in a nice neighborhood and I will be happy there.  Not because of the house, although having a pretty place to live certainly doesn’t hurt!  But because I know that I will hold it loosely.  I will enjoy this season God is leading us into, fully assured that He is with me and that He will make something significant of my life no matter where He places me.

Come now, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a city and spend a year there and carry on our business and make money.  Yet you do not know the least thing about what may happen tomorrow.  What is the nature of your life?  You are really but a wisp of vapor that is visible for a little while and then disappears into thin air.   You ought instead to say, If the Lord is willing, we shall live and we shall do this or that.  James 4:13-15

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God-in-a-box

The Kick Off meetings were always scheduled as early in the new year as possible in order to present the company’s focus and to hopefully re-ignite the sales force’s enthusiasm for the potential growth ahead.  Each state organization held their own meetings and in the early years of my career the meetings were primarily planned by each of these organization’s leaders. Taking the company’s theme and tag line, they would build a presentation for their people that would be educational, entertaining, and rewarding, including the recognition of the previous year’s top associates.  As you can imagine, this made for a wide variety of types of meetings and messages.

As the years progressed, the company endeavored to get everyone on the same page in presenting their goals and directives to their representatives.  One of the things they developed was the “Meeting-in-a-box”. This file included practically everything that would be presented – the power point design and slides, the videos, and the agenda.  While saving the administrators a tremendous amount of work and making it easier on the leaders responsible for the meeting, it also limited the creative element.  Deviations from this pre-planned agenda were highly frowned upon.  The meeting-in-a-box caused each organization to be treated as if they were all the same while the characteristics of each may be vastly different.

I can’t imagine what it is like to attempt to get thousands of people to follow your dream and your business model exactly as you had envisioned. (I can’t even get everyone in my household to consistently put their dirty laundry in the basket provided!)  If it was MY company, I would most certainly want you to do things MY way, so I totally see how this was a good thing for the company.  That’s business.  But it got me thinking…

I wonder how many of us were given God-in-a-box?  A certain group of people believed in God a certain way, interpreted the scriptures a certain way, desired to worship a certain way, and brought to us a God limited by their understanding.

I had a version of God-in-a-box.  He was defined by this box of doctrine and rules and old English language, worship that was perfunctory, praise that was always the first, second, and fourth stanza of the hymn, and prayers voiced by only men because women weren’t to be heard in church.  Supposedly there was a common theme for this God – that He loved us SO much He sent His Son to save us – but the God-in-MY-box was harsh and hard and critical, ever ready to punish those in sin.  The instructions that came with my God-in-a-box were that deviations were highly frowned upon and often condemned as false teaching and heresy.

When life’s troubles came my way they didn’t fit in the box with God and I had no understanding of how to get God out of the box to help with the trouble!  What good is a limited God?  I offered my cries of frustration to Him, yet walked away as if I hadn’t been heard.  But He was listening.

A sweet woman invited me to a newly formed gathering of believers.  I watched and listened with amazement at these who worshiped and followed a God with no limits.  I saw with my own eyes the miracles this God performed, heard praise that stirred me more deeply than I had ever experienced, and met Him all over again.  I realized there really never was a box.  He didn’t come to us that way.

He reveals Himself to us as we seek Him, promising that we will find Him.  But make no mistake, He is immeasurable, limitless, endlessly creative.  He is personal and intimate in His unique relationship with each of His children, all with no contradiction of character.  He is God.

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  1 Corinthians 13:12

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An unfinished friend

I was so angry when we parted ways.  My last words to her were mean and spiteful.  I lashed out from my own pain and frustration, blaming her for at least part of my misery.  Truth is, I was so hurt at the loss of her.

This had been no ordinary friendship.  Our connection was most certainly orchestrated by God for we would have never chosen it of ourselves.  We began as enemies, but God being God refused to leave us there.  He had other plans and I was sure I knew what they were…  I couldn’t blame God when all fell apart because, well, He’s GOD.  So I blamed her.  I blamed her for abandoning me.  I blamed her for not following through with the plan.  I blamed her because it was easier than looking at myself.

It hadn’t been easy being friends.  We had to work at it.  I was young and just beginning to learn how God wanted to work in my life when she showed up.  Our lives seemed so vastly different and our relationship provoked many a raised eyebrow and questioning look.  He used her to teach me so much.  I had invested much in this friendship and as I watched it crumble before my eyes, I was heartbroken.

That’s how we left it.  We went our separate ways and life continued.  Of course, once the anger was spent and joy returned I was sorry my last words to her were so harsh.  There are many things that have come and gone in my life that I was able to leave in the past with no regret and no thought of any longer.  She was not one of those.  She stayed in the back of my mind and a corner of my heart as if something was unfinished.

It’s not that I didn’t think of reaching out to find her.  I did.  But my pride and my shame won those battles of the mind and will.  Besides, I was sure she hated me after the things I had said.  Our lives continued to have one common thread yet we managed to remain completely separated for over twenty years…until this summer…

Family was in town and I desperately wanted to see them.  As we all know, it’s hard to be everywhere everyone wants you to be when you are the out-of-towners, home for a visit.  Finally we see a window of opportunity that can only be filled through the help of my old friend.  Hmmm…I must admit, I had butterflies in my stomach as I realized we would finally come face-to-face after all these years.

I haven’t asked her how she felt in those first, brief moments.  She seemed at ease, which in turn put me at ease.  We visited easily enough, although we were all talking at once, cramming everything we could into the short time we had.  When it came time for them to leave she was the last to the door.  We embraced and her words spoke to that deep, unfinished thing in me.

“I’ve always loved you.”

That dark corner of my heart felt the warm rays of relief and my soul uttered the deepest praise to God for what was to me a longed-for restoration.  I wasn’t finished being her friend.