from an article originally posted January 16, 2015...
Each day I’m astounded and humbled by love. Not a day passes that I don’t look upon love with a certain kind of awe that leaves me speechless--well almost speechless. Speechless is a rare event for me.
I love how love will never end, and how each day brings moments to meet another in love. Today, I made a new friend. As they were leaving, after I had captured a bit of their heart and given a bit of my own, I could genuinely say, I love you, and you have my prayers. And the love was genuine. So, though I’m languishing, I still see purpose in my weakened moments to love and receive love. As my body is faltering, I’m more on the end of receiving love, but I’m not counted out--I still have love to give. Love to overflow. It’s my great and high calling from the little strength I enjoy: to love. Love my family, my littles, my community. And that love will never end. It will extend long beyond my last breath.
Last weekend, two of my treasured friends from my life in North Carolina flew to be by my side. The miles between us have been long, but they have been hard. We have missed the close living that we all enjoyed for a long season together. We all long to be near to one another, and that desire has only grown as I have been struggling with cancer. So this weekend, someone treated us to our hearts desire--someone flew my ladies to my side. It is a gift I could never repay.
It was a hard weekend, as my body was struggling through a lot of pain. But we had moments, minutes, time that will be forever treasured. The last day I knew more comfort and we spent that day in heart sharing, tears, loving, and open-handed conversation about the days to come. It was beautiful, and it was heartbreaking. We shared endless tears. Moments trying to get the words out past the tears that wouldn’t stop. But it was a time that we will all forever cherish.
I lifted my head and wept that I couldn’t understand that I would likely only see my dear ladies again in eternity. Because though I’m dying, I’m still here. It feels like the reality is refusing to take hold. But, I knew it to be true. I would likely not see my dear loves again. But that I would one day be meeting them as they come to meet their dear Jesus. I will be there beaming, greeting my loves. And even if I can understand it all, embrace it, believe it, it’s a truth that should bring heaving sobs. Because death hurts like that. But it isn’t the death that brings the sobs--it’s the beauty and love and pain in departing that brings the shoulder-shaking weeping...
Over and over I wept, I am so rich in love and friendship! How can I open my hands? I want to close my fist so tightly on these loves of mine. And through those tears, I pray pained prayers begging for more time to love. And the prayer is answered Yes--as today another entered my home, and love went out. I’m still here. I get to love one more day.
Today when I talked to my new friend, I explained this beautiful brokenness. That these tears are evidence of knowing love. And is there anything more important than knowing love? So weep, count your tears, look at your swollen face and know it is the fruit of love. It hurts like hell, but that pain from love--well it may be beauty at it’s purest.
Today, another dear friend brought me a new flower to bloom beside my bed. As she entered the room, her tears came. Oh, love. Oh love streaming down from her face. I tried to encourage her tears. She was sheepish. I told her this story of love. I told her I cherished her tears, that they were the evidence of our love for one another. I watch so many fight to stifle their tears as they see me. I get it--tears can be so exhausting. But this dear tender heart could hold back. She eventually flew down the stairs to the safety of my Mickey’s love. Mickey let her tears come, and loved her in her heartache. Around this house, we get tears….. It’s what we do.
Are you keeping distance from another in fear of the pain of losing them? Do you let your heart grow close, so close that it can hurt? Hurt from love? Do you cherish the tears you have known from the love of another that has flown away? In your shattered state, do you see how Jesus sees every broken shard? Do you see how your relationships--first with Jesus, then beyond--are the riches of your life? God has used friendship in my life to remind me of his great love, to confront me on my lack of love, to point me to Jesus when I couldn’t see Him, and to walk with me through the shadow of death. I’m so rich. I’m so unbelievably rich in friendship.
Dear hearts, if you hold back from love, move. If you withdrawal when your heart is asked of you, stop hiding. If you are fearful of being hurt so much that you keep yourself away from the love of another, trust me--you will regret it. Open wide your hands to your story. Look closely at us all--we are ALL broken. Stop hiding and thinking you are the only one. We all are needy. Needy for a community that will share the burden of today with us. People to point us to Jesus. You see, I could never cure my friends, cure their heartache or loneliness, but I can point them to Jesus. They can point me to Jesus… That is what community and friendship is meant for in its sweetest definition. People to help us laugh when all we’ve done for a week is cry. Oh, my loves, don’t be afraid of love. The riches of our relationships is all that matters.
It is all that matters. Be brave. Invite someone to coffee, and share your heart, and ask another about their heart. Be known, and let yourself love and be loved in return. These North Carolina girls came and loved me, and in my small way, they let me love them in return. I hurt to see them go--it still hurts. But these tears are kept in Heaven, and they matter. The love we have shared and continue to share matters.