on love

I knew they were French when they got on the B48 bus headed towards Greenpoint. They had great eyebrows and fashion sense, confirmed by a thick accent as they took seats a few rows behind me. I was sitting alone en route to my hospitality duties at the evening service in Williamsburg Sunday night, so we shared the bus for a good 40 minutes.

“…I mean, what is a relationship? …

She said this as they swiped metro cards, taking the conversation inside for the ride. The silent buzz of the near empty bus made her words sound even more hollow.

“You meet someone, and have small talk, then you see if you want to be friends…

Every pause pulled me in to her reflection.

“If it is a man and a woman, you have sex, and maybe then it is more, maybe not…

Her statements sounded sad, resigned to a formula that hadn’t made relational sense for her yet, though she wanted and expected it to.

“Is it the point to find someone forever?”

The question just hung there in French accented beauty. Is it? I thought.

“He wasn’t telling me about his mom, you know, everything that was going on with her… and I didn’t want to break up with him, I just wanted to move out. I didn’t feel right anymore, needed space. But when I called to move out, he wanted to break up…”

The beeps at the Ocean Avenue stops interrupted her reflections, but she seemed too wrapped up in her story to notice. Every end of sentence trailed off to hang in the air – hoping for someone to prove her wrong. She didn’t ever pause long enough for her friend to console her or advise her, just long enough to sound like sad heaviness on top of her heart.

“In the end, we left each other…”

The weight of those words now weighed down my heart, too. I know – how helpless does that sound? I was a stranger eavesdropping on two sweet girls in the middle of their Sunday night transit conversation and her weight was weighing down my heart.

I don’t think her friend spoke at all until a few minutes before I got off at Metropolitan. And when she did, she asked a question about printing business cards – by that time she was just trying to subtly change the subject and help her heavy-hearted friend move on.

I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but there was nothing hidden about her honest questions. There was nothing dramatic about her story, nothing staged as far as I could tell. She rambled on and trailed off about the confusing mess of her relationship because she honestly didn’t know what had gone wrong. She weaved in and out of anecdotes in search of that one thing that would have changed all other things.

But her uncomfortable conclusion was, “in the end we left each other…” because she had to think about other things, like business cards and dry cleaning and 9 am on Monday morning.

Her conclusion made me uncomfortable too, but I think I can pinpoint why: we were not made for this. Love might be a mystery, but it makes sense when you know the mystery maker. We were not made to take direction from our foolish, deceitful hearts when it comes to love because we will always end up trailing off sad sentences and rambling sad stories.

God is love and God wrote love into Creation. He is the author of love and He is the only way it will make sense. 

I stepped off the bus to walk to church impossibly hoping they would get off and walk in the same direction. They didn’t. It’s Wednesday now and I’m still thinking about that French girl with heaviness on her heart. I hope she finds the Mystery maker, the Author of love who can help her sort it out.

mid-life: exchanging crisis for calling

When I left for college, I thought I was joining the ranks of “students” – a thoughtful army my parents had already been a part of and had since graduated from. I was going off to learn so I could approach “real life” with the right information, equipped with the tools for a career. I thought that being a student was a phase and not just in an academic sense.

My growing up years are replete with examples of spiritual mentors and faithful witnesses who crowded around to pour light and truth into my self-centered soul. In many ways, I looked up to these folks because they had been through the “student” phase and seemed to still have their wits about them on the other side. Not that they ever encouraged my thinking that they had “made it,” but in my ignorance I believed them to have arrived somewhere I hoped to soon be.

As it turns out, God never intended us to stop learning (please, no jokes about it taking me years to figure this out).

This is part of our sanctification – humbly adopting the title of student. When we stop pressing on to know the Lord in a deeper way, we have said “I know it all,” which is nothing less than a lie. God has designed the refining process to draw us into a greater knowledge of Him, a greater dependence on Him, and a greater satisfaction in Him. Being a lifelong student is the best kind of blessing there is when your subject is the Creator of the universe!

I remember having conversations with my parents while I was in college and many more since, where I shared inspiration about the light bulbs turning on in my head. Their responses were not, “Mmmhmm. Good, glad you’re learning that” but rather, “Now, that’s interesting. I wonder if that also applies…”

A giant light switched on when I realized I was learning WITH my parents and not to catch up to them.

I’ve never seen their pursuit look so different from the world then right now. When their peers look for worldly pleasures and social science studies reveal what they should be doing and desiring, they are venturing into wildly unknown territory.

Because they love their Lord and treasure Him, they are exchanging a mid-life crisis for a mid-life calling. Yesterday, they officially invited Sadie and Sierra into our family and into their home. Their bags had been packed for two weeks, before they even knew the destination. Yesterday they moved into the room above the kitchen I called my own for several years of high school. And now I’ll call them sisters.

Sadie and Sierra getting cozy in their new room (my old room)

As my parents are clinging to promises they have taught and studied for years, they are challenged to believe the promises hold power enough to be strong when they feel weak. And I’m sure they feel weak and ill-equipped and even awkward about the transition, but there they are in the midst of it.

I can’t tell you how much my love for them has grown as I watch them lean into the Lord. And as I see the Lord sustain and sanctify them, I can’t help but love Him more as well. What a beautiful Savior who looks after the lost and lonely and finds them refuge.

My heart is full for these two young ladies who will change our family forever. I can hardly wait for thanksgiving to come so I can count them as blessings around our family’s abundant table.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

See the first in this mid-life series: the opposite of mid-life crisis as I look at what it means to always be in the life development stage called “sanctification.”