Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Releasing The Bird...Not "Flipping" It.

It’s incredibly comforting to relate to people who have the same gifts as you do. Sometimes, they are the ones that can help you the best when you are going through tough times because they communicate in the same way.

That’s how I felt as I read my friend Melanie’s blog tonight. Her giftedness in writing and expression did wonders for this like-hearted soul!! In it, she talked about her husband’s grandmother who just passed away. She had been suffering with Alzheimer’s and in a way, it was a blessing for her to be able to pass on and be in heaven; though she will be greatly missed. However, Melanie isn’t looking forward to the stress of being around the family members at the funeral because she says they and her husband are not on good terms. Still, through it all, she remains optimistic and prayerful because her faith carries her through everything in her life; the kind of faith that hopes for and expects miracles!!

So, where’s the link between her situation and mine? Well, let’s just say that I have been going through a “loss” as well. I didn’t lose a person to the grave; though it feels that way. Any kind of loss of a cherished loved one, be they friend or family (or a friend that you felt was family), is always a hard thing to go through. It’s especially hard when the loss comes suddenly and without just cause. Melanie and her family had time to prepare for their loss…..I didn’t. Though, this loss is much different that the kind of loss that Melanie and her family are going through; but grief is still grief and it all hurts the same. There are still tears and all sorts of emotions that you have to deal with. It’s hard not to let the stress take its toll and depress you. However, there is always hope, and Melanie described it well:

“This afternoon, as I was updating my status and mood as I often do during the day; I put worried for a brief second. Then, I realized what message I was communicating. Just this week my Pastor mentioned a quote by Adrian Rodgers that I wrote down. "Worry won't take the sorrow from tomorrow, but it will take the joy from today." I heard this quote come from my conscience or from somewhere inside of me today. Why should I be worried? My heart is in the right place. I have a clear conscience, my job is to pray and trust God and this is what I will do. Do I have faith? I think so. If so, why was I worried? Why do we needlessly worry? It will be fine, things will work out, in time I will see God's will revealed.”

Reading that was a great comfort to me. It brings tears to my eyes. I too had the same thoughts; though they were thoughts of expressing my sorrow and pain rather than worry. Yet, there is a certain element of worry because there are still a lot of unknowns with my situation. I mean, there is always hope for restoration…..though it’s not up to me. It’s just like the little forward that I got from Marie today that said:

“God determines who walks into your life....it's up to you to decide who you let walk away, who you let stay, and who you refuse to let go.”

As true as that may be, you can’t always make the person stay no matter how much you love them. You can pursue them and chase them and refuse to let go, but even then, love has to know when to release a bird that wants to fly away. You can do all you can to apologize and make amends, but if they don’t want to accept it, you can’t make them - no matter how much you want things to be better.

I did all I could do to make things right and had hoped that love would conquer all. However, I was greatly shocked and grieved that no amount of love and apologies was enough to cover a simple unfortunate circumstance. And so, I was given no choice except to let go because the choice was made for me. I didn’t want to, but I couldn’t stop that bird from flying away and not even looking back - even after all we have been through. Of course, there is always the hope of the bird flying back, but I can’t spend all my time waiting in the nest for it to happen. I will have to go on in the meantime; though it’s difficult to ignore the pain of the deep wounds as I go from one spontaneous crying spell to the next. Many times, between sobs, all I could say was: “Why God? All I ever did was love them.” And all I keep hearing is: “All I ever did was love you.” Wow!! How profoundly and sadly true!! The perfect faithful God of the universe who does EVERYTHING out of love for us STILL takes abuse from His own creation. All He ever does is love us and show kindness to us; yet, we still don’t always accept or reciprocate that attitude. But even so, He loves us anyways. And even after all our ungratefulness and stupidity, He still loves us enough to forgive us and take us in His arms when we come running to Him with our surrendered heart. WHAT AMAZING LOVE!! It’s that example that enables me to do the same. No matter what, I still have that same love for the bird that has flown away; even if that bird hates me and doesn’t return my love. The hate will never make me stop loving, and I would still welcome that bird back if it ever returned.

Contemplating that helped me to feel better and to understand a bit, but even then, I had a hard time. I just kept thinking about how could I ever let myself love and care about anyone or anything ever again. Is anyone worth loving and caring about….especially when they don’t appreciate it and throw it all away? It was then that I was reminded of the verse that always comes to mind when I start feeling this way: “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9). I also remembered something I had said very recently when ironically, I was describing my reasoning for continuing to forge new relationships even after losing people (one way or another) that I become extremely close and attached to. Sometimes, you wonder what the use is of ever getting close, or making friends, or loving anyone. But, it all comes down to this: “Love is worth the risk.” And so, I say that and the verse from Galatians to myself to remind me that no matter what, loving makes life worth living.

Pain and loss will not bring me down; it will build me up. Also, I will not cease to love and care about people just because they abuse me or don’t return my friendship, love, and loyalty. In fact, I am used to that and it is unavoidably going to happen throughout the course of my life because people are human. I have had plenty of people in my life that have used and abused me, and I have hurt people too, regrettably….we all have! We ALL make mistakes and we should be quick to forgive and make amends; not just give up on each other and expect nothing less than perfection. It’s impossible!! Even the best of people screw up and disappoint you every now and then. Mistakes happen. What would our lives look like if we just got rid of every person that made us mad or hurt us? It would be terribly empty and lonely because no one would ever be able to live up to the standard because everyone screws up - whether intentionally or not. Humans aren’t 100% reliable and foolproof - God is the only being that is.

Regardless of what conflicts come our way, we mustn’t allow the hurt and pain to harden us and make us angry and bitter, otherwise, what will we become? Why let it change who we are for the worse instead of the better? We must forgive others, forgive ourselves, and pray that others would forgive us too. Life is too short to worry and to hold grudges over nothing. It’s just like Charles Ingalls said in the episode of “Little House on the Prairie” that I was watching tonight (the one where Mary goes blind). He was upset about what was happening to her and when Jonathan was talking about all the strife of the town going belly-up without work, Charles told him that ordinarily, he would be upset. However, it’s amazing how unimportant it all seems when you are caring about something that really matters. He knew that they would “make do” through the hard economic times as they had before. The more important thing to focus on and care about was Mary. We shouldn’t waste time worrying or being angry about things that don’t matter much or that we have no control over.

Watching that episode was also a great comfort to me because it was yet another illustration of how there is a “silver lining” to every cloud. Just like one of my favorite songs that I heard today by Casting Crowns (“Praise You In This Storm”) in which the chorus says:

“I’ll praise You in this storm and I will lift my hands. For You are who You are no matter where I am. Every tear I’ve cried You hold in Your hand. You never left my side. And though my heart is torn I will praise You in this storm.”

Even though the pain is great and things look dark and dreary, God is still God no matter where we are in life. He sees our tears. He’s right there with us and hurting for us. He never leaves us. He will help us get through it and find the joy in it all as He reveals His plan for us. Just like with Mary when she learned that she could still have a good quality life; even though she was now blind. She wallowed in self-pity and grief for a while, but she came through it and found the joy and decided to help others learn to cope with their struggles, just as she had, by becoming a teacher for the blind.

It’s just like Kent always says, “Feel the heat. Face the fire. Find the gold.” I’m almost to the point of finding the gold. There is good in this. At least I had the joy of the company of that “bird” while it lasted. So, like so many things, I’ll try not to cry because it’s over but be happy because it happened. I’ll cherish the good times and forget the bad. I’ll try not to get my hopes up that the “bird” will return. I’ll be content in my life no matter what happens. I don’t want sorrow and worry to take away the joys of today or any day. Though, I think it would be a mistake not to be sad. It’s good to let your feelings out, and sometimes, you just can’t help it. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to love so much that it hurts. It’s also ok to move on when you realize that whoever or whatever you are holding onto isn’t going to come back. Though, if someday it does, you will receive it with open arms because you were able to overlook the past and forgive because the love and hope of Christ enabled you to do so. That’s the kind of hope that I have for myself and for Melanie’s family too. But, we both know that even if things don‘t happen the way we would like, God is always faithful and trustworthy and our faith will sustain us. With or without certain people or things in our lives that we long for, we will still continue to go on and fulfill our purposes for Him.

And so, if the “bird” happens to read this, all I can do is apologize. I have poured out my heart and shown my love for you and can count on one hand the number of times anything negative has transpired. I never though that it would be worth throwing away all the countless positives because them. I feel terrible that the love in my heart wasn’t enough. I guess it never was or things wouldn’t be the way they are. I’m sorry for being human. I’m sorry for failing you and making mistakes. I’m sorry that I couldn’t be perfect. I’m sorry that no amount of words from my heart could attain your forgiveness. Though, I will never close the book on you - even if you have done so on me. I will always love you - and all your baby birds too - as will my whole bird family as well. I know I can’t change your mind because you say no one can once you have made up your mind….which is why I didn’t cling to you or fly after you because I knew you wanted to fly solo. But, if you should ever want a flying buddy again, you know where I’ll be. I love you……..always……unconditionally and with no judgments.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about this, but... as the bible says... all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to HIS purpose.
Rom. 8:28