Learning the New Dance Steps

“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp” (Anne Lamott).

Man, is that ever true. I’ve known a lot of people lately who are walking through the valley of the shadow of death, grieving the passing of a loved one.

No matter how young or old, how healthy or sick, however near or far they are, you’re never quite ready to say that final earthly goodbye. In the end, you’re always greedy for a little more time.

But you know that in Christ that death is not forever and the grave is not final. Hope has the final say. Jesus will have the final word. Just as He called 4-day old smelly Lazarus, wrapped up like a mummy from head to toe, from the tomb, so will He one day speak the name of that loved one to rise forevermore from the grave. One day, He will call you by your own name.

That won’t be the end. That will be the real and true beginning.

 

I Hate Goodbyes

I hate goodbyes.

Even though part of me knows that the ending of one thing often brings the beginning of something new and better, I still want to hold on to the old.

Even though part of me realizes that nothing on this side of eternity can last, I still want little pockets of my life to stay the same, for certain people in my life to always stay the same age and never get older. That’s probably the same part of me that still thinks fat ol’ Santa climbs down the chimney to bring me my presents.

Goodbyes are never easy. Tonight was no exception.

We said goodbye to Mike Glenn as Kairos pastor. I understand that it was time for a change. I understand that Kairos needed fresh blood and a new vision. I understand that you can’t keep doing things the same old way year after year and hope for different outcomes.

That doesn’t mean I don’t think it sucks.

People who have been out there in the dating world know how hard it is to say goodbye to relationships. Sometimes even to the dream of a relationship. It’s gut-wrenchingly hard to say goodbye to loved ones who pass away, like aunts and uncles and parents. I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like to say goodbye to your child.

The part that I keep holding on to when unexpected (and sometimes unwanted) change comes is that there is no goodbye in God’s love for me. There is no end to that enless love that won’t let me go. It even holds on to me when I’m doing everything in my power to let go of it.

I can’t envision a scenario in any future where goodbye will ever be an easy word to say. I don’t want to ever get used to saying goodbye.

I know when it comes to my Abba Father and His unconditional extravagent love for me, I never will.

 

 

Looking for the Pause Button

Sometimes, I wish life had a remote control, like in that Adam Sandler movie where he fast-forwards through the boring parts of his life.

Only I wouldn’t be looking for the fast-forward button. I’d want to pause my life.

Today, I went to the funeral of a friend’s dad. I hadn’t seen or talked to him in a long time, but I remember him as being a quiet, gentle man who loved his God and his family and who also happened to own the first PC that I had ever seen.

I saw him lying in the coffin, looking like a perfect wax replica of a person. Then I remembered that I was looking not at the man, but at the shell. The moment he breathed his last he was instantly in the presence of Jesus, fully alive and healthy and happy.

I heard where two Briarcrest students who were set to embark on their senior year of high school died Friday at the hands of a drunk driver who had four DUIs in the last five years.

There’s too much sadness and loss in the world. Too many people had to say goodbye to the ones they loved, while more than that never got the chance.

I sense more than ever how precious and fleeting this life is. I understand more how important it is never to take anyone in your life for granted.

I’m thinking about the quote from the movie The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel– “There’s no present like the time.”

I recall a pastor who said that at best this life is like a clean bus station. You don’t set up a bedroom suite and move all your belongings into a Greyhound terminal, because it’s only a stop along the way toward your final destination.

This life is so brief because this is not our final destination. Heaven is. As much as I keep forgetting, as much as I want that pause button to work, I know that I can’t stop that second hand from racing clockwise toward another tomorrow.

I can only choose to live each moment fully and to be fully present to every person in every place at every moment that I’m given. I can know that in God’s economy nothing is ever wasted and the good a person does follows after them. Your legacy will far outlive you and in the end, it won’t be what you did for a living or who you knew, but who you were and what you did with what God gave you.

 

The Road Goes Ever On and On

A hiking trail at Radnor Lake State Park

A friend and I went hiking in Radnor Lake State Park. We took the Ganier Ridge trail, which is a bit more difficult but also more rewarding for the scenery and wildlife.

As I was walking, my mind immediately went to the scene in the first Lord of the Rings movie where Frodo and his companions set off on their quest. I almost felt like a hobbit as I walled down the wooded trail.

I also remembered how the movies were great, but the books were so much better because there’s just so many themes the movies never really delved into. Such as how the present age was passing away and a new one was coming. Regardless of whether Frodo succeeded in destroying the One Ring, so much would be lost forever.

Life is like that. As much as we try to hold on to things and people and places, we end up losing them.

You can choose to be saddened by the loss. Or you can choose to use what time you’re given wisely and make the most of these things and people and places while you have them.

But really, when you think about it, do we ever lose anything? Didn’t Jesus say that whoever suffered loss for the sake of the Kingdom, whoever made sacrifices and said goodbyes would receive a 1000 times what they lost in the life to come?

So maybe we never really do say goodbye at all. Maybe it’s more of a “See you later.”

All that from one nature walk. I really should get back to this place more often.

Aside from the heat and humidity, it was a perfect walk. Well, more humidity than heat. I’m a wimp when it comes to heat.

I’ll also have to make a point to re-read The Lord of the Rings sometime in the very near future.

 

Letting The Door Close for Good

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I have a picture on my iPhone. It’s me with a friend at Centennial Park, under a picture-perfect summer night sky. I have my arm around her and we’re both smiling. We have just been swing dancing and having a grand time. We look like such good friends.

I had that picture. Up until tonight. I deleted it. I let that proverbial door close. You know. The one almost closed but barely held open by one of those rubbery door stop thingys? The one that once it’s closed you can never re-open?

It’s now closed. I believe her chapter in my life is over. I prayed my goodbyes and grieved over the friendship’s end. My next steps are moving on.

It’s not like she’s a bad person or even that the friendship was wrong. But I think sometimes you have to let go of something that was good– or even very good– in the past to be able to receive God’s future best.

Sometimes you have to say goodbye to your dream in order that God can dream a bigger and better dream in and for you.

So I’m letting a few things — and a few people– go. I hold no bitterness and no more regrets. I cherish the memories but realize that I must move on as they have already moved on.

I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me in the coming weeks and months, but I know it will be good. I love the imagery in this quote from a book I’m currently reading:

““So here’s my thought: Your best thought on your best day falls 15.5 billion light-years short of how great and how good God really is. Even the most brilliant among us underestimate God by 15.5 billion light-years. God is able to do 15.5 billion light-years beyond what you can ask or imagine” (Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker).

What Happens Next?

Recently, I admitted to someone that I had feelings for her. It took a lot of courage and bravery for me to do that and my mind ran through the gamut of responses I would receive from “I never want to see or talk to you again and I’m getting a restraining order against you,” to “I love you, my strong handsome hunk of man. Let’s go right now to Vegas and get married.” OK, I didn’t really seriously consider that last one. But I did hope she liked me the same way I liked her.

She didn’t. It turns out there’s a guy she’s interested in. And that’s okay. I can pray for God’s will in that relationship and still be good friends with her. I call that a win.

I allowed myself a process of letting the grief come. I went into Baskin Chapel at my church and knelt down and let the tears come. I grieved over saying goodbye to a dream that felt so good and so right. Then I got up and moved on.

I’m not saying we won’t ever ever be more than friends ever. God is still God and he’s still in control. I’m still praying the prayer that never fails– Your will be done.

But it’s good to know that God’s got me in this. Even through the joy and peace mixed with hurt and sadness, I know God is right here with me. I know I’m not falling apart only by his amazing grace.

Maybe I’ll meet someone else and start the process over. I hope so. One thing I know for certain that there’s no time that my God won’t be with me and there’s nothing he can’t work for my good and his glory. I still believe that the best is still yet to come and God’s not even close to being finished with me.

I’m still living my miracle.

 

Behold, I Am Making All Things New

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There’s a part on The Passion of the Christ that is not in the Bible in the strictest sense, but I think it fits. The part where Jesus falls while carrying the cross and His mother runs up to Him to help Him and comfort Him and He tells her in essence, “I have to do this because I am making all things new.” That is such a great line and it struck me powerfully tonight.

To the one who has struggled with addictions for years, He is making all things new.

To the one who keeps getting visited by the same old fears, He is making all things new.

To the one whose life feels wasted and who feels unneccesary to anybody or anything, He is making all things new.

To the one who said goodbye to a loved one and buried a piece of their heart with them, He is making all things new.

To the one who carries a broken heart that hurts more than it did when it was broken the first time, He is making all things new.

To the one who has almost lost hope that anything will ever get better, He is making all things new.

To the orphan and widow, the homeless and outcast, the unwanted and unloved, He is making all things new.

He is making everything right again. He is making all the lies come untrue.

He can make you new. Not just better or stronger, but a completely new creation. One where you get to be what you always wished you could be and dreamed about, but never thought could actually happen. All you have to do is look up to Jesus and say, “Help me. I need You.”

Celebrated this Easter the Day that made it possible for you to start over. Know that it’s never ever too late for a do-over. He never gets tired of making broken things whole, dirty things clean, and old things new. Including you.

Amen and amen.