[This blog post is part of a series called ‘Hard’ truth]
In June, we flew to France to spend two weeks saying goodbye to my dad. In those weeks, we had 8-12 people in the house at all times. Some of them were family, some of them were more precious than the dearest friend, and some of them were strangers.
My sisters both became chain smokers because they so desperately needed an excuse for alone time. My coping mechanism was equally as disgusting. Each day I would go for a jog. Ugh.
On my run, I would yell out loud at the sky, (which I’m sure was disturbing to the french farmers). I would inform God of all the ways that He wasn’t acting in the way I wanted Him too and I would give Him a to-do list to fix everything.
Then I would come back to the house. Everything was still awful, but somehow things seemed better. I knew God loved me, and I knew His love wasn’t like any other love I had ever known.
I saw this quote the other day on a Christian twitter stream:
Love is a condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.
Gosh, I’m so glad that isn’t true. That is our version of love. It’s our limited people version. It’s the version I saw play out every day in France.
I would watch people share things with my dad and ask him questions and ‘love him’, but in every confession or conversation there was that hint of need. Everyone wanted him to be happy. They loved him in such a way that his happiness was essential to their own.
But my dad wasn’t happy. He was hurting and dying. And I watched as he would try to fake it for people one after another. Our version of love was just a demand on a broken man to pretend in his final moments. And because he loved them, he would play his part well.
I wanted so much to be different. I wanted so much to let him be as he was and not need him to be okay. But I’m not God. I’m just a little girl who was watching her dad hurt and watching him fade away and dissolve. I needed him to not be afraid. I needed him to not be in pain. His happiness was essential to my own.
Loving without need, it turns out, is close to impossible.
I am incredibly thankful that God is different from me. My happiness isn’t essential to His own. God was happy long before I existed. He made me out of an overflow of that joy. He wasn’t deficient in any way.
In France, I didn’t have to worry that God was going to make decisions in order to make my world the way I wanted it to be. Unlike every other conversation in my life, I didn’t have to follow-up with God later and be like – ‘remember when I prayed for that relative to choke on their food? Let’s table that for a while and revisit it next week.’
I didn’t have to qualify anything with God. I didn’t have to fake it with Him.
I knew that God was free to do what was best in the situation because He wasn’t a slave to making me feel better. I could trust God with the deepest hurts in my heart knowing that He wouldn’t walk away from those conversations and compromise on what was right just because He needed me to stop hurting.
Here’s the truth: the number one thing I prayed while I was in France was to go home.
It was too much and too hard and I just wanted it to be over. As I type that so many months later, I still feel the sting of guilt and shame that I would in any way despise that gift of minutes and hours and days. Now all I want is more time.
My God loves me without need. Because of that, He saw past my pain, and did what was best, even when it didn’t put a smile on my face. He didn’t grant my request to go home. He certainly didn’t speed up the time. Those 15 days crawled by. I’m sure somewhere in there He even worked out some sort of cosmic loop-hole that made time literally stop.
In those two weeks, I got years with my dad. In the last two days of that time, we had lifetimes together.
I prayed for time to speed up, but He made it slow down because He is a Father who controls all things and He isn’t up there writing this world into motion to make me happy. He’s writing it into motion to display His provision and power and love.
And here’s the catch: there is nothing that makes me happier than seeing His provision and power and love displayed.
I guess it’s kind of a win win.