This beautiful guest post has been written by my friend, Juliet van Heerden.
I mailed her a card today. Haven’t heard from her in a while. Five months to be exact.
“Just want to say, hello.” I pen the words carefully. Prayerfully.
I never want to be “too much.” But something within me desperately wants to keep our silken thread of communication intact. When half a year passes, my heart knows she’s grown half a head taller, a whole lot smarter, and is now, perhaps, too old for a “godmommy.”
Father, she doesn’t even know me, I pray. Why do I keep reaching out to her? Why does stepping into a middle school classroom set my heart astir with the wonder and magic of the emotional chaos that is life as a “tween?” Why is hers the face I search for among those chattering girls in the hallway, when I know that none of them is hers – will never be hers. Show me how to love her from afar.
Disappoint is Hard
Disappointment is hard. When we are responsible for the choices that bring the disappointment, it’s even more difficult, because there is no one to blame but the person in the mirror. When my heart aches with the pain of certain searing losses, I want to blame someone…anyone. I also want to point a finger, say a bad word, work up some anger to mask the hurt, and maybe eat some chocolate (or something) to calm my nerves; none of that works to resolve the tangled knot in the center of my being. Those are simply smokescreens I’ve been guilty of hiding behind when life hurts.
Years ago, I began attending a 12 Step group with a chemically dependent spouse. I went because I wanted to support him in his recovery. Little did I know that I was just as much in need of those twelve principles as he.
I remember the first time I heard Step Three: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.”
Hmmmm, I thought. I’m familiar with God. I understand Him to be the only “Higher Power.” He’s been my Father, my Friend, my Rock and my Refuge for my entire life.
It was several years before I understood that Step Three is for everyone, not just alcoholics and addicts, but regular folks like me, who have been buffeted by life’s storms and are in need of ongoing surrender to the only ONE who truly understands our hearts.
Although I was birthed by Christian parents and raised in a Christian home, I admit (reluctantly) that there have been areas, corners of my heart, that I have failed to turn over to God’s care. Step Three, for me, is about those areas. About trusting Him with her.
About trusting Him with the leftovers of my heart after the enemy beats me up with lines like, “This is your own fault, you know. You lied. You lost her – your fault.
Doesn’t the enemy of our souls love to pour the alcohol of guilt, shame and blame into our open wounds?
I fight him with the sword of God’s Word, which promises me this: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1 KJV)
I choose to make the daily decision to place my life in the hands of the One who says, “Woman, where are your accusers?” (John 8:10)
My accusers are mostly in my own head, if I allow them to be. It’s not my God who sends me back to the pit of shame every time I hear her name. It’s the Liar, the Accuser of the Brethren, the Guilt-Deliverer who gets more business in my neighborhood than Dominoes Pizza. I will survive his attacks when I make a decision to release my stubborn will into the hands of my Redeemer.
What about you? Is the enemy knocking on your door with a steaming box of regrets? Does the scent of shame fill your home whenever you allow yourself to remember the choices you made that caused you to hurt the people you loved the most? Do you accept his lies – even tip him for his services, or will you send him packing with the words, “This is not what I ordered today?”
If your loss, like mine, involves a child, may I invite you to take another step, a step of choosing to trust God with that little one (who may now be half-grown)? Will you choose to believe that He loves the person, the very one you carry on your heart, even more than you ever could? Whether your baby was aborted, adopted, or fostered by another family, God tenderly holds your child in the palm of His heart. Will you choose to release that life over the care of its loving Creator who understands the circumstances that led to your heartache and offers redemption for your loss?
Eternity is a long time, my friend. Heaven holds the hope of the resurrection of our relationships. Jesus died that we might live, that our babies and children might live, that our hope will live – Forever!
Juliet Van Heerden is a teacher and pastor’s wife who writes from Jacksonville, Florida. She is passionate about sharing hope with hearts wounded by addiction and excited about the completion of her first book, Same Dress, Different Day: A Spiritual Memoir of Addiction and Redemption, available in early 2015. Chapter One can be found on her blog at julietvanheerden.com.