Monday, June 13, 2016

Lonely Spaces

“Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.” (Augustine, Confessions (Book 1)

My best friend of 21 years moved away last fall. Yesterday I was reminiscing on how I used to lay across her bed up in her room, doodling while she read aloud ghost stories. Trying out makeup and taking quizzes in "Seventeen" magazine. How we'd shoot baskets in her back yard, or sing made up harmony on the front porch in the sunshine. I drive past her childhood home every day, just a block past where I'm raising my family. And although it is painted differently now and she hasn't lived here in over a decade, I miss her.

She moved last fall, not just an hour or two away, something attainable for a weekend trip. No, she moved across the country. At the time I was so intent on giving her all the support that she needed that I pushed my own grief down, deep. I'm not sure I realized how far down it went until recently. Summertime feels so empty without her. 

Yesterday some friends and I spent the day at the lake with just a few nursing babies, loving on another one of my closest friends who will be moving to another state in two weeks. Good things for her family. Important next steps. After she dropped me off and drove away in the dusk, I turned inward and that familiar ache began again.

I'm not sure the human heart ever shakes a certain type of loneliness. You can marry your soul mate. You can live next door to your best friend. You can have thousands of friends or just a tight knit circle - and you can still feel like the only one. Still have those moments of pain and sorrow that is hard to put a finger on. An important puzzle piece will always be missing. For humans who were created to walk with God through a garden, that yawning hole of ache is the rule, not the exception.

As with any grief, there is no timeline for this. No expiration date on when you're supposed to be "over it." Grief is as complicated and unique as the people experiencing it. Personalities, love languages, past hurts and current circumstances all wrapped up in it. My attempts at moving forward before I'm ready have backfired, leaving me more disillusioned and lonely than before. It is something that can make other people uncomfortable, even the most well meaning trying to hustle you past it to a place that feels easier for everyone. But ease is the enemy of change. And during these hard transitions, change is the hope that keeps me limping on.

Because that is just it. I know with a surety that I know little else in this life, that there is redemption at work here. That hard paths are made a bit easier when you know that so much can grow from walking it. I'm looking for the things God has for me here, in this space that is so uncomfortable for me. Looking for the ways He wants to use my time, my heart, my life within these circumstances. When I look back at all the tough things I have encountered in my life, I can see the over arching theme of redemption held right alongside.  In ways small and large and in between, He is always faithful to use it all for good. I absolutely trust that.

So I wake up on another Monday in this place with these kids and name the hurt. Ugh. I miss you. And then, grief acknowledged, I open wide my arms and my heart, ready to embrace what is growing in this place. Just another space He is calling me to abide in Him this year.

I know, for sure, it's going to be good.

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