|Me and my crazy crew in early July (and my crazy hair!Yikes!).|
Don't feel sorry for me, though. The reason I bring up this painful part of my childhood is to magnify a beautiful display of God's kindness and handiwork in my life.
You see, I have many, many friends who love me, cherish me, and laugh with me now. And how we laugh! The silly, funny, goofy jokes that have me laughing at 5:00 am the next morning (my current wake up time), hours after the joke was told because it was that funny, are priceless to me. When my friends say, "Oooh! I have you all to myself!" Or, "I don't care where we go, I just want to be with you," can I tell you what that does to my soul? What those comments do to those memories that are still sort of tucked down in my "CHILDHOOD MEMORY BANK OF SNOTTY GRADE-SCHOOL TEASERS"? It washes over those memories like crashing waves on rocks that have been smoothed down over the years and made available for eager little children to traipse across near the water to simply explore and have fun. Yes, like that.
Isn't it God's marvelous craftsmanship in my life to take what was so painful and turn it into something so pleasurable? Yes it is. That is what God does. He compensates us in that what was such a source of pain and loss he makes such a source of abundantly more joy and gain than what we lost in the first place. I'd much rather have all these wonderful, loyal, kind friends during this season of life than when I was younger. These friendships are just that much more precious to me because I know what it's like to not be wanted or included.
I see other evidences of God's lavish and loving handiwork in my life, too. When I was twenty, my mother died of breast cancer. I was half way through college. I had never suffered the death of any one close to me before, other than our beloved family dogs. Oh, my, was it p--a--i--n--f--u--l. When I graduated from college two years later, she wasn't there. When I married 2 years later, she still wasn't there. When I had my first baby 5 years later, she wasn't there, either. And then there was baby number 2, and 3, and then 4, 5 and then the last one, 6. Yep, still not there. Ouch from the bottom of my heart. The fact that she had been a labor and delivery nurse and loved every minute of it made it a much, much bigger OUCH in my heart.
But don't feel sorry for me. You know why? Because even though God took my mother from me at a fairly young age, he made me a mother 6 times over! God graciously, generously and humorously gave me 6 delightful daughters. I am lucky, blessed, and all those great adjectives for someone who is very, very happy with her maternal treasures.What was such a loss for me, my mother, he created me to be many times over. God is g--o--o--d. And the compassion and insight and comfort I can offer to others is, well, appreciated by those whom I've cried with and reached out to when their loved ones have passed on. I get it. I really, really get it. "Grief can be tormenting, " I've been known to say. "But you'll get through it. The hole in your heart will never really close, but life fills in around it and you will find your grief manageable in time. You will feel joy again."
I see this tendency of God's to redeem and compensate, in an extraordinarily beautiful way, in Scripture, too. Just recently I re-read the biography of Paul: A Man of Grit and Grace by Charles Swindoll. The author was describing the letters he had written to his "son in the faith," Timothy. The books I and II Timothy are those letters. The fond affection and love that Paul uses to communicate with his "son" had me in tears when I realized something very profound. I remembered that Scripture described Timothy as having been raised by his God-fearing mother and grandmother. Timothy's father is not mentioned at all. I assume his father was not around, as in dead or gone, or simply not a God-fearing man. But God, in his kindness, gave Timothy this affectionate, loving father figure in his later years who was perfectly fit for what Timothy needed. How Timothy must have loved and cherished Paul's care and instruction. And how painful Paul's execution in Rome must have been for him. How good and kind of God to have given Timothy those words of love, exhortation and comfort that have been preserved in the Holy Scriptures forever. This is the father heart of God.
I see the beginnings of more areas where God's compensation and craftsmanship are being displayed in my life. It gives me faith to trust my heavenly father for more evidences of his kindness. I also trust more readily that my present sufferings, deficiencies and pain are being worked out for a greater good someday, too. It also helps me to see that as my children suffer for things that are beyond their parents' control, I can point to the hope we have in God's redemptive and wise kindness through it all. God is "ahh..some." Thank you, Lord.