“To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.” Simone Weil
I love reflecting on life. So often, I find that if I sit back and think through all the random encounters and unplanned events, there is a theme...a whisper of some sort. This morning, I reflected on the past week and I heard that whisper.
What was the whisper? Why spoil the surprise?
In the past week, I have had the pleasure of seeing old faces, all from different eras of my life. A few nights ago, I was able to sit and listen to a woman who knew my parents (and me!) when I was very little. She shared the most amazing stories of how she is being used to free gem mining slaves all around the world and about how she and her husband are working to raise funds to build a freestanding orphanage in a remote area of
. I wanted to hear more and more, and she
shared more and more. And we were like
old friends. Now, arguably, she is such
a kind, wonderful woman, and I’m sure she made many people feel the same. But she remembered me from when I was very
little. She knew my dad. She asked about him. She had specific memories. I felt very much that a part of her heart had
somehow been transplanted to me, because my heart is also passionate about seeking
justice and looking after the fatherless. Nepal
Just before that interaction, I visited my childhood best friend and her family as they mourned the loss of her dear father. As I stood in line waiting to give her a hug, I thought about how often we let years go by before reconnecting with old friends. I thought about how someone who was such a big part of your life can so easily become a memory. But I also realized that real friends, good friends, leave their imprint on you. And then, as I stood in my old church and grade school, I was flooded with memories. It was there that I met some very special people who became my forever friends. It was there that I know I heard God’s voice clearly for the first time. It was there when I began to discover my own personal strengths and gifts. It was there that the Word of God was poured into me and my love for it sunk deep into my being. And it was there that my childhood best friend and I shared such an important part of life together, transitioning from “child” to “adolescent.” Now, she’s in a different transition, and I wanted nothing more than to experience it with her…as much as I could, at least. Driving away my heart grieved for her family, and I was reminded to number my days. And to be thankful for the seasons of life that formed who I am today.
A few days before that, I sat in the nursery of my church listening to very familiar music being performed by the arts team of our old church family. Nothing seems to affect me more than music. It can change my mood in an instant. It can make me pensive, joyful, or peaceful. And a lot of the time, it doesn’t just stir emotions, but memories as well. That night, the music was sweet, but the memories were sweeter. I remembered a much more carefree season of life, in my early days of college, when my good friends and I served our church for these productions, all growing closer to each other in the process. Actually, one of the ways I really got to know my husband was by serving our church alongside of him. That night, I heard the same voices sing the same songs and I was transported to “the good ol’ days” of college friends, fun times, and falling in love. And as great as those memories are, there is a sense of pain in them because the church that was so much a part of our DNA is no more. I know many grieved that loss and moved on, but for my husband and I, the friends we had at church became our family. Once it dissolved, it felt like we were kids in the middle of a divorce. Though we maintained many friendships over the years, it’s just not the same. The music was a reminder of that. And yet, as I sat there slowly succumbing to sadness, I was reminded that God is still good, and real, and there is no building or mentor or friend or program in the world that could ever diminish his greatness and His love for us that we continued to experience outside of that family. In addition to all that, His Word says that He sets the lonely in families. And so He has! Had we not been moved from there to where we are now, we’d be missing out on a whole new church family that we have grown to love immensely, more than we could have imagined!
So, what’s the whisper? I have never felt like I belonged. My mother left, I changed schools, churches, friends, surroundings…but I am rooted in something much deeper than all of that. I am rooted in love. And those roots are spread out long and strong around the region. It is this genuine love that connects me with a woman who knew me as a small child, and who is now inspiring and provoking me in her everyday, adventurous life. It is that love that surpassed years of distance between childhood friends, allowing me to mourn with someone who I realize is very much a part of my own heart. It is God’s love that reminds me that in the pain of separation from a family, there is One who is closer than a brother, and He redeems situations and restores friendships…and brings new ones that are unimaginable and breathe life into me every day! It was my Maker’s genuine love that whispered my name in each era of my life. It was His voice wooing my heart and giving me His for the world when I was very young. It was His voice telling me what kind of strengths He knit me together with and who I was to become. It was His voice teaching me how to love Him alone, and not rely on other people or experiences in place of His presence. Today, it is His love that speaks to my heart and says to me that though I have never felt like I belonged, I have real roots that are strong.
A friend of mine encouraged me with a thought one day. That thought is that we are sojourning through this life. Sojourning! I love that! Yes! This is not “it” for us. It is not to this world that we belong. And yet, we live here, with real people, situations, passions, and losses. So while we’re sojourning, there is plenty of time for us to love others and pursue justice on their behalf. To me, there’s no better use of our time. As a mom, there’s nothing better to model to my children. I want them to learn how to gaze heavenward, knowing how to fully love, and to use what God has placed inside their own unique little bodies to serve others while we’re sojourning, however challenging that may be.
“I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3: 16-19