Saturday, June 9, 2012

More on Love and Loss

I've mentioned before my friend who helps me process thoughts and feelings, and who helps me grow through them rather than avoid them on the one hand, or simply wallow in them on the other. (Believe me, I'm skilled at both avoiding and wallowing!) 

I talked with her last week about moving out of our apartment, and about some other things that have come up recently. I told her about the mysterious sadness that has accompanied this move. It's funny, she pointed out, how one thing can so represent another that we grieve two things without knowing it. Here's what I mean. Leaving an apartment, taking a step into the unknown and somewhat scary future, might stir up other feelings of "leaving" or being left. Once the well of grief has been reopened, its waters are stirred; and grief can be a deep, mysterious well. 

As we talked, I came to realize that moving out of a familiar, safe, nurturing place has stirred up grief over a similar displacement from the past. The loss of a relationship with someone familiar, safe and nurturing-- the pain of which is still fresh-- is brought again to my conscious mind and I find myself in a familiar pattern of sweetness and sorrow. My wise friend counseled me to grieve with hope. Yes, the loss of relationship with a loved one is worthy of mourning! But yes, the mourning makes room in our hearts for new relationships and new loved ones. 

I liked the sound of what she was saying, but realized I didn't want to do it. The investment I had already made in those I loved, the real-estate they owned in my heart was too weighty to think of risking yet another goodbye. I let them take up residence in me and now, years later, I'm still walking those empty rooms looking for a trace of their scent.  "Why open my heart again, if each relationship is only for a season? It's too painful to keep experiencing loss." 

Then she reminded me of something, by telling the story of her first husband's death. At one point, she committed to never remarry in the pain of his passing. But over time, the Lord comforted her with His presence and she realized that the man she married, while his own person, was in one way or another a calling card. He was an image, a shadow, of her True Husband. The special ways he cared for her, the grace he showed her, the deep knowing and acceptance she experienced through relationship with him-- all along, that was Jesus, her bridegroom-- loving her through her earthly husband. 

As I listened to her story, I was reminded that even the most permanent union on this earth-- marriage-- is a season. My own father died at 43. What a short season for him and my mom to share life together. I thought about Michael and the profound ways his love has changed me and realized that I could lose him in the next hour. With fresh tears, I said, "I guess at one point or another I'll come to realize that the only Person who truly knows me, and who will never leave me, is Jesus." 

He's the only One I'll never lose. And as I reflect on His love for me, I can look back on the relationships I'm now grieving and see His love shining through them. The ways I was nurtured, protected, and cherished by past friends-- all along, it was Jesus, my true Friend, my true Lover, my true Father, Brother, Mother-- loving me through these temporary gifts. Now in the wake of goodbye, I grieve loss but not ultimate loss. I am lonely for their love but am not alone, and not unloved. The One who truly knows and truly loves me has never left. 

A German poet once looked at a rose and said, "so it is You!" In the same way, I can look on the shining faces of past love in my life and say to Jesus, "all along, it was You. And you're still here."

That gives me hope to grieve past seasons, and courage to embrace new ones. 


Anonymous said...

thanks for reminding me of this.


Tae RM said...

thanks Hannah for this reminder and encouragement :) i needed that, too.