If God is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18), then He’s certainly taken up residence in our house today.
Yesterday, our neighbors of 10 years loaded a truck and relocated 8 hours away to southern Missouri, victims of a recession-driven job loss here in Indy. I know I know, lots of neighbors move. But aboard that giant truck was their 13 year old daughter, who over the last decade felt like she had become ours as well.
Maddie went everywhere with us. Came in and out of the house without knocking. And even though our families are from starkly different faith traditions, she became an older sister to my kids. None of them remember life before Maddie.
Now she’s gone.
Skype calls and text messaging will never replace the beauty of proximity, and now an empty two-story house sits as a constant reminder that we never really were in control of this life anyway.
Holding my sobbing little girl yesterday afternoon was an all-too-real incarnation of this harsh reality:
Directly or indirectly, relationships will hurt you.
The pain is raw. And like a candle that has been extinguished, the temptation is to let the wax get hard, to coat over and encapsulate our vulnerabilities so we never feel this way again. To stop loving. Because with love comes the potential for great pain.
It’s easier to stop caring. To stop entrusting. To stop pursuing. To stop risking.
To stop living.
When we instinctively avoid our pain, we unknowingly compress our joy. We don’t just stop feeling the hurt, we stop feeling at all. We become calloused. Hollow. Lifeless. We think it’s safer there among the “dead.” And that’s a battle I’m not willing to let my children lose.
So goodbye Maddie. Whether our lives are separated by a wooden privacy fence or 500 miles of interstate highway, you’ll always be a part of our family. The joy of your presence was more than worth the pain of your absence.
Today we willingly embrace them both.