By: Staci Stallings
One of the most awesome things about living with God at the center of your life is when He gives you pieces that don’t seem connected and then connects them in a way only He could. It is especially cool when one piece was created years ago and then through a series of “chances,” He brings it into your life so that on exactly the right day at exactly the right time in exactly the right way, it will drop into place, mesh with the other piece, and WOW! You understand in a whole new way.
The first piece dropped into place yesterday evening. I was (again) watching Superman. I’m getting into the fourth season now when Lois and Clark actually get married. In fact, the piece was from their wedding. They were talking about how hard it had been for them to get to that moment. Now, of course, it being Superman, the obstacles were more deadly, the trials more dramatic than most of us face–bombs, mad scientists bent on revenge, that kind of thing. But as they looked back, Clark said that maybe one reason they had faced so much adversity was to show them how important their love was. Without the adversity and having to work through it together, they might never have appreciated what a gift they had in each other.
Then the minister said, “Yes. No matter what, love survives.”
By this point I was a puddle of tears. I could see it so clearly. “Love never fails.” “God never fails.” He was saying the same thing. “No matter what God’s love never fails.”
Later on, I got an email from a dear friend who is just starting out in life. Unfortunately (or inevitably), life has thrown some real curveballs at this young person. Adversity and cruelty have joined forces against him more than once, but somehow, (by the Grace of God as he likes to say), he is still here, still learning and growing. Then he said something interesting about “this messy life.”
Hm. I’d never quite thought of it that way. I’d always thought life was supposed to be good if you were good. I always thought, if you worked hard enough and did enough and helped enough people, life would be good. And maybe to some extent it is. But the greater truth is, life is messy.
People do things to hurt you. People do things that hurt you even though they weren’t trying or didn’t mean to. Things happen–awful things, like fires and floods and hurricanes and tornados. A lot of things in this life make absolutely no sense–why does a child get cancer, why was that young mother who was out jogging hit by a drunk driver and killer, why do very bad things happen to very good people?
It’s like as I told my mom recently, I’ve begun to feel like any day that something very bad doesn’t happen has been a very big blessing. The phone rings, and the person says, “Staci, everything’s okay, but…” and my heart just drops. What horrible thing has happened now?
I know that sounds deeply pessimistic and dramatic. I assure you, it’s not. It’s only honest.
In the last three years, my life has gotten very messy–my church burned to the ground, I lost two very close, very wonderful guys to bi-polar, my dad got injured, my husband’s work dwindled and then surged (each of which cause upheaval around here), I was very ill for awhile…
My friend said it correctly, “Life is messy.” VERY messy. Sometimes so messy, you almost can’t keep up. Sometimes so messy, it takes the breath from your lungs. Sometimes you have no idea what step to even take next because the truth is, walking is so very hard.
But the other side of that I have learned is this: Love survives.
Even when life gets its messiest, even when the very worst thing you can imagine happens… love survives.
Are you angry for awhile? Yes. Are you crazed with grief? Yes. Does your mind wonder what the point of any of this is? Yes. But as you work through those, as you keep walking through the pain, through the yuck, through the heartache, you begin to realize that although your old life may be gone, love has survived. You still love the person as much as you did that awful day that changed everything. In some cases rebuilding is possible, but even in those when it is not, love is still there.
There are bonds forged on this earth–love bonds–that are so strong even death itself cannot severe them. I well remember after my brother’s death the night I dreamed about the Prodigal Son. He had been away, he had done things his father would never approve of, he had squandered his inheritance, and yet, here was his father running out to greet him. In that flash of understanding, I remember finally grasping the fact that the inheritance God gave us was not money or even His good name. The inheritance that God gave us, that we squander so badly here on earth is love.
We have so much love to give, so much compassion and kindness, and yet, we dole it out as if it might vanish if we give too much. In doing so, we squander the very real inheritance God gave us.
Yes, this life is messy, sometimes extremely so, but knowing that, if you also can get a glimpse of how love can survive even under the most dire of circumstances, you will discover the key that will help you walk through every mess. Love will hold you up while being more patient with you than even you are with yourself. Love will walk with you, and carry you if necessary. Love will hold your hand and your tears. Love will give you the courage to face another day. Yes, life is messy, but even so, love survives.
Pretty good pieces to finally fit together, don’t you think?