Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Walking away...

 Polished shoes under kacky slacks, broad shoulders hold his shirt in just the right ways. He's tall and strong and steady when he walks, and i was there when he first stepped alone.
He took this momma to lunch two days before we flew to the other side of the world. We sat and talked in a room filled with souls that matter much to One, but they were invisible to us. Our minutes were fewer than we would have liked, but they were rich... the most valuable things in the world neither clink on the ground if dropped nor burn away in flames.
So it turns out... King Solomon wasn't the richest man that ever lived.

Then 48 hours later, my feet lifted off the ground, and left the place where he is. But, unexplainably true is the fact that a heart can split and splice and find itself in many places at once. That quiet, unseen heart, that portions itself out to all those it loves.
On our lunch date, we paused for a quick stop at his work, a bit of business needed tending, and as i sat in the car, I watched him walk away. He was gone only a few minutes, and i knew he was soon to return. But the moment of watching him walk away hung silently in the air and said much to my heart. i had a perfect view as he walked... away.
And deep whispers slid in... “he will walk towards many things, as he walks away from you... those very feet that thumped you from the inside will carry him to... many good things. And I will be with him every where he goes... you can't... but I WILL... and it is My plan, it is good...”

And i'm reminded ---- walking away from me must happen before he can walk toward the next good thing. And there's that promised peace from my Abba.

The last time we left for Kenya, the “walking away” was a grueling affair. I ached for those that would watch me walk away, while i also ached as the many i love had no choice but to turn and walk away as well. It's what must happen when goodbyes are said. In that initial move, two years ago, my grief ran long and cut a deep furrow in the universe. Did you happen to notice how the world tipped a bit in June 2013? Well that would have been because of the excess of water on the African side of the world --- tears are heavy ya' know.

There were simply too many goodbyes to too many precious faces and places. Goodness i even cried over missing the flowers that would faithfully bloom in the gardens i had loved planting. The good Lord knows---- if it could be cried over ---- i did.

Now we find ourselves two years later, saying our “goodbyes again”, preferring to use the words “see you later”. But at the end of the day, a goodbye rests on our hearts. And yet i'm realizing God has done something new in us.

Two years ago, the walking away was unbearable (although, in the end, it was endured and all survived). The tears lasted about 9 months ---- interesting isn't it, that the grieving took about the same amount of time as it takes for new life to form in a mother's womb. There was no way to predict it would take that long, for some it takes longer, for some less than half the time. But hearts are different and tears can not be controlled (if they are, then unhealthy sets in).
So i had cried daily, from June to February. And that's not counting the pre-departure weeps.
But then one day, the sun came out again, and it stayed.
The water-flow was finished (well mostly), the “rainy season” complete (with a few lingering light showers), and Kleenex sales dropped dramatically in Kenya. :)

And a new perspective on “walking away” began to grow.

The separation is healthiest when the focus can lie on the direction ahead and not flounder or fester on the direction behind.
Looking ahead... it's a better focus.
In the midst of the grief, it's nigh to impossible to force the eyes to look ahead --- they are just too blurred by the constant wash of salty tears.
And we'll hear the words, spoken in love by others, that we should “move on”, but weeping hearts can not be told how to act, they are quite stubborn laying hidden inside.

Each must be allowed to come to the end of their “teary season” in their own good time.
Not once in scripture is a time set for those who mourn. But what is said, is that we should “mourn with those who mourn”. (i'm eternally thankful to the many who mourned with me...)
It also says, “there is a time to mourn and a time to dance”...
So, God's plan, weeping doesn't last forever.
Grief does pass.
The sun rises faithfully and new days do come.

With her bright smile and long lashes, she sparkles beside the tall one God chose for her. She's blooming in the ways a woman blooms when she's wanted and cared for and loved. Decorating her mountain home in classic ways that speak of who she is and not just who everyone else is, i looked long at the framed chalkboard filling the wall beside her dinner table. On it she's artfully written, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” With flowing lines and graceful accents, the words capture. They matter. They are seen by every pair of eyes that pass through their doorway. Living those words within man-made walls transforms wood and tile into a sanctuary, a haven. After all, the ones who live there have asked the King to be their permanent guest , they have drawn near to Him– He lives there with them, He has drawn near. 

And i'm reminded --- if she had never stepped away from my side, she could have never stepped towards the peaceful mountain top where she now lays her head. She grew up in the strong arms of a daddy who loves God, and then was well able to step into the strong arms of her husband who loves God too. And there is joy in the journey of her steps for this momma.

If the grief hadn't come two years ago, if we hadn't obeyed the call and if she hadn't “walked away” down the wood-floor aisle of that 200 year old little white church in the mountains, then --- this --- could have never come.
She would have never walked TO this beautiful place, if she had not first walked away from the beautiful place beside us.

Focusing on what's coming rather than floundering over what's being left behind... it is right.

Yesterday, while ministering to a woman who is grieving over wrong choices her daughter has made, she confessed her agony over trying to forgive. We sat together and wept. Her pain needed to be heard. But unforgiveness is a tricky thing. It will grow dangerous vines that hold one in the past where pain and hurt came. Even in this, focusing on what's coming is so much better than floundering over what's in the past. However, the wrong must be faced and the forgiveness must flow ---- or the grip of ugly will hold her down, and back. When we finished talking and praying, she watched the movie “The Passion of the Christ”. It was needed. She had never seen it before. And while it is a painful movie to watch, it is a visual reality of what our Jesus suffered --- for us. My words to her came gently, but with a strength that was necessary. “When we watch, when we are reminded of how Jesus paid for our sins ----- we must also remember that He was paying for the sins of others as well. And the price he paid --- covered the debt --- of all.
To hold something against someone is to shake our heads at Christ and say ---- your suffering was not enough --- i require more...”
Oh God -- what grief this must cause your heart.
So she watched and wept and she “saw” that the wrongs of another had been taken in to account and covered. She left better able to forgive ----- no more festering in the past, but instead focusing on the future. God will be found there too.
As she watched the movie depicting the sufferings of Christ, it hit me strong.
Jesus had to walk away ------ for the goodness of His grace and love to save us.
We would have floundered hopelessly if He had not done what only He could do --- He gave us good places to walk to, as He walked away.

Surely it was Mary, His mother, who suffered most deeply as she watched Him walk away.
How many times had he walked towards her ---- as a little boy, running to her arms ---- as a child, walking to her table --- as a young man, walking towards her home.
But then the day had come when she began seeing his shoulders more than his chest.
We see shoulders when someone walks away, we see chests when they walk towards us.
Did God prepare Mary for what would someday come, when He told her this child would be the Savior of the world?
Jesus' shoulders were able to carry the weight ---- only because the heart inside his chest was so strong and good.
Mary enjoyed the goodness of that heart as she watched the boy grow. Mary knew the strength of those shoulders as He carried that cross.
It was in the walking away, that Jesus saved.
He could not stay. Sin would have won if he had.

Three days past, i sat on a long flight beside the youngest that once rested just inside me, right under my heart. His long hair is a shock of curls, and his scruffy man-face reminds me he's grown. No longer content to chase lizards in my flowerbeds and play in cool-water creeks on hot summer days. New steps call to him, steps divinely planned by the One who made him.
And my soul knows it is right and good. 

Because if i cling to him, if i stunt his ability to step away (and make no mistake, we moms can do that if we are not careful), then i'll be robbing him of the good things the Good One has for him. The day before we flew out of Atlanta, we took our last ride (for a while at least) on the wonderfully windy mountain roads of north Georgia, we talked long of the days ahead. In just months he will likely return to the homeland we all love, and he will join the many who find an ocean between us. But there are good things waiting for him under the solid oak trees of “home”. God knows exactly what they are, we do not. But we know we can trust the One who is good and kind and able to accomplish all that works together for good --- for those who love Him and are called to His purposes.

And i'm reminded, the One who guides him is the One who shares him, and that same One is fully able to carry him from here beside me to all the other places he was made to journey through --- after all, His shoulders are more than able. God made them that way.
And thankfulness rises up.

Imagine all that's ahead for the ones who took their first breathes in front of me and rested in baby-sweet ways in these momma arms.
But before they can walk towards those good places, there is a rightness in blessing them as they walk away...
These sons of mine will likely someday walk towards a bride all dressed in white who will promise to love them and be blessed by their good love. (may those girls love GOD first though)
All three of my babes-no-more will walk towards sunrises and sunsets and laughter and peace.
They'll walk towards new homes in new places on new streets.
They'll walk towards sweet news of a new birth that'll bring baby cribs and soft blankets and late night feedings in rocking chairs.
They'll walk towards new jobs, new beaches, new faces, new horizons...
... and in all these wonderful new things, i'll thank God for letting each of their “news” be new-joys in my own journey as well. For “walking away” doesn't have to equate to subtraction --- rather it can mean addition. Better still it might just mean multiplication. :)
Jesus proved it.

This was my quiet morning spot while staying at a friend's home during furlough. Notice the cross...

It's taken me too long to get to this place of being thankful about the view of their shoulders.
After all, we momma's fall in love with the faces we help bring in to the world... right... we prefer seeing their chest headed our way rather than their shoulders walking away.
But, i've learned...
seeing them walk towards their days ahead, doesn't mean i'm left behind, it only means, there's more...
crafted by the One who is good.

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