Surprised by Love

It had gotten to the point where I couldn’t remember a day I hadn’t thought, “Man, I can’t stand this kid.” Or cried out to God asking why He had to give him to us in the first place.

“Jesus, I just don’t want Everett anymore…  I can’t take this.”

It was Unpleasantness never going away. Never, ever affording us a break.

That can wear on a soul.

My only feeling prior to a most recent three-day weekend? Dread.

Not that he was, in the big scheme of things, a shoe-in to rise to that status of “top stressor. We’ve had our share of other common major stressors of late.

Any one of: cultural re-entry OR endless living out of suitcases OR moving (four times) OR enrolling one’s kids in three new schools OR starting over in a new state OR switching careers OR looming unemployment could have risen to the top. But they didn’t. (Our life has that whole list, by the way.) Even concurrently they failed to ever oust Everett from the top.

He was more difficult than everything else put together in an unusually difficult summer.

In a season of tears, nothing had brought more tears than he had.

Finally, this past weekend, a break.

Not a long one, mind you. Not even the whole weekend. Just a one-day conference, six-and-a-half hours. Three speakers and a musician talking about the Deeper Life. The registration webpage had called to us so loudly we knew we had to go, even at five-and-a-half hours away.

It was too short a trip to be called a getaway, but it felt like one to us just the same. Long enough to take a few deep breaths. A chance, after running, running, running since spring, to renew a bit. Recharge some. Rest from Everett and retreat from the grind, if only for some hours.

“God, please meet with us.”

“God, restore us.”

The only problem with prayers like that is that I never know what God might decide to bring up. It might not be what I expect or want (case in point).

Sure enough, God spoke—gently, subtly, constantly—but (at first to my disappointment) almost exclusively about Everett.

My “love” for Everett was exposed as no love at all. I’d always been patient with him, sure. Good to him. Kind. Helpful with all his needs during emotional outbursts. Protective, insulating him from the harm that his tantrums directed even at his own self.

But I saw that for weeks I’d been insulating him from something else, too.

Myself.

I wasn’t for him. Not fully, not really. I said all the right things, but I wasn’t deeply hoping and longing for him to be put back together, I was secretly longing for my pre-Everett life and wanting that back.

That isn’t love.

Then, in contrast to my weak shortcomings, I saw God’s love for Everett. His desire for redeeming all the trauma. For healing and binding up that broken heart. Restoring shatteredness.

And the vessel for His love?

Me.

All along it was supposed to have been being me.

I’d become more of a reservoir for resentment. Openly bemoaning the weight of his existence on my life as his exhaustless neediness pushed my despair ever deeper.

I may have known truths in my head, but I’d proven powerless, not to mention disinterested, in scraping up any better.

Frankly, I needed rescuing.

And that’s what I got.

Coming back from that conference, I saw him with new eyes. I could now see this much truer version of someone I’d quit trying to see through God’s eyes at all.

A week ago I was failing absolutely to love him, but now I am not. I actually want to love one very unlovable (in my strength) kid. And, color me shocked, he himself IS so much more lovable, dare I almost say easy to love? I wouldn’t have expected that part. I truly was handed a supernatural, kingdom, other-than-me love.

Everett is not beyond hope.

And neither am I.

 

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