Sunday, December 13, 2015

Selfless Love

Have you been loved selflessly? Have you experienced a deep love that you know you are safe in? That kind of love that is fierce and yet tender; possessive and yet not overbearing; thorough and all-consuming, yet leaves you wanting them even more?
As humans, we were created to love and to be loved. God created us for an intimate relationship with Himself; but He also created us for fellowship and closeness with others.
I was loved well by my Tim. I knew I was cherished and he knew he was adored. We had deep respect and admiration for each other.
When love is real, it builds the other up instead of taking cheap shots to knock them down. It supports emotionally, encourages physically, and leads spiritually. It protects and nurtures.
A true love affair will not omit respect; it won't degrade dignity; it doesn't lack praise.
Have you known this kind of love?
Sadly, many have not. Far too many have experienced a twisted version of love's purity; yet they know no different and still call it love. Oh how marvelous the touch of love without selfish motives can be. The "cheerleader" kind of love that longs for the others success and motivates them for greatness behind the scenes.
At this time of year, my mind tends to reflect on memories more often, I am grateful to have experienced real love. Obviously, the perfect love of my Heavenly Father; but also the imperfect love of a man who knew what it meant to be selfless. A man whose love left me feeling safe and protected. While we didn't always do everything the right way, I've no doubt he loved me and I loved him.
I may never know human love on this relationship level again in my lifetime. And that is okay. I was loved well. Not perfectly, but strongly, and selflessly. I challenge those of you with loved ones by your sides to love in this way. Don't waste time not being fully invested in your own love affair. Love deeply. Love purely. Love sacrificially. Love with a grateful heart. Do it now. I assure you, you will miss it when the opportunity is gone.
For almost four years I have lived in crisis mode or grief mode. It ages the soul. My eyes have witnessed medical horrors I can never mentally erase. My heart has walked beside the hearts of our children in the shattering of their innocence and the dark valley of death. It has been a constant battle to overcome the mental flashes of difficult memories. God has tenderly reminded me of the continuing thread of the love between Tim and myself intertwined throughout each memory.
Two things have carried me through. The love and strength of my God as He shelters me under His protective wings, and the knowledge that I was loved deeply by Tim.
Love intentionally, friends, and love well. I get that life is busy, but we all have a choice to make. I hope you choose to love well in the midst of the busy.

Whispers of Fresh Dreams

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; 
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands. ~Psalm 138:8 ESV

I sit in my office with the door open and a clear view through my interior window of our staff manning the back desk.  A doctor escorts a couple to check-out and I can’t help but overhear their banter.  They are sweetly ribbing each other.  He has suffered a heat stroke; she is reminding him of how she warned against being out in the heat.  He slyly states to her that they have been married for 64 years and he is accustomed to not taking direction from her by now.  She smiles and mentions next week will mark their 65th wedding anniversary.
At first, my laughter mingles with the staff as we all witness the beautiful exchanges made in humor.  Then a tear threatens to break the rim of my eyelid.  They are an adorable, elderly, sassy couple.

It is sweet,

and humorous,

full of love and tenderness.

It both melts and breaks my heart simultaneously; but mostly, it makes me smile.  I whisper a prayer for many blessings in their marriage, and my mind drifts.  Ahhh, I want this for my children.  I want them to have long, healthy, happy marriages; a dream that went unfulfilled in my own life.  I wish they could have seen their daddy and me grow old together.  I long for them to have experienced the security of witnessing our incredible love affair continue to deepen as the years added wrinkles to our hands and faces.  I am forty-four.  I am not dating.  I do not plan to remarry.  The likelihood of me ever having a 65th wedding anniversary is completely non-existent.
If I allow myself to camp out here, in the “all I’ve lost” mindset full of unfulfilled dreams, I become a victim of my own making.  I’ve had to let that sink in a bit.  I can build a cage of pity-me-crushed-dreams and lock it up with poor-futureless-Lori deadbolts.  I can sit within the bars of my misery, huddled in the corner, whining and complaining for all to hear until eventually those around me tire of hearing about it and leave.  
This is a real option.


I can acknowledge the sorrowful thought and walk through it with fresh expectations of what my God will do in my future.  Scripture tells us

“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord endures forever.”

God is ever so gently teaching me through my grief about His love and His plans.  His love endures forever.  He will not allow His purpose for me to go unfulfilled.  Can His purpose for me be maximized if I am wallowing in what “should have been but never will be”?
Friends, we will not ever “get over” the loss of our husbands.  It’s not something to “put behind us” or to “move on” from as some on the outside of our journey like to think.  But, and this is a big BUT, at some point we have to stand tall, pull up our big girl britches, shake the dust off, and boldly move forward towards a new kind of beautiful.  Our dreams have to change.  That hurts; we feel cheated and rightfully so; however, God still has a purpose to fulfill in our lives.
He wants to blow the whispers of fresh dreams across our souls.  He wants to light the tinder of new ideas in our hearts and fan those flames. He wants to show us how to move forward without leaving behind the love of our spouses.  He longs for us to live victoriously and thrive again. 
Will it be new?  Yes.

Is “new” sometimes scary?  Yes.

Will it be worth it?  YES!

Father God, restore our passion for living.  Help us to take ownership of our choices to move forward.  Rain your fresh grace and love heavily upon us.  Give us new dreams.  Amen.

{This article was featured on A Widow's Might}