Friendship. Betrayal. Love. Loss. Longing.
What’s the line from the songs? “Fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers.” I’d add, “Daughters and sons, beloved, lost ones…”
I’m thinking of the ones who look up to me, of the ones I look up to. The ones who took good care of me and the ones who betrayed me. And I wonder, who did I sell out without even knowing it? Who looked up to me but no longer does? I don’t really want to think about that. It’s easy for me to name the ones who didn’t treat me as they should have. We all make mistakes. And sometimes we hold people responsible for things they just couldn’t handle. So I hope there will be grace for me in the hearts of the ones I’ve let down.
God is a god of relationship. The Trinity is a relationship. God has a plan for the world, for each one of us. The enemy has a plan to get in the way of every single thing God wants to do. What better way than to ruin or distort or break or twist relationships? What gets to us more? What single dynamic is there in life more significant or powerful than relationships?
People don’t spend ten years on the couches of therapists over a lost job or a ruined vacation. They spend it over bad parenting. People don’t walk around miserable and dysfunctional because of some gift they didn’t get for Christmas; they do it because they were abandoned, abused, discarded, devalued, or betrayed. By people. By others. By relationships.
I don’t have deep wounds because my family was poor while I was growing up. I have deep wounds because my dad couldn’t father me right and my mother couldn’t mother me right, and because every other parent-figure who let me down only intensified the loss and the wound. Every time I hoped for someone to be there the way I needed someone to be there, and then all the someones let me down, or didn’t see me, or told me how I felt was wrong, it just pushed the hurt deeper and brought more shame.
It’s like unrequited love. When two people love each other, it’s a celebration. But when one of them loves and the other scorns, there’s shame. It’s somehow shameful to offer something beautiful—something precious—and have it be thrown back in your face. I’m coming to realize, so much of my shame was false—it’s not that my heart was necessarily wrong for wanting or needing, it’s just that what was precious to me was treated like trash. And so I thought maybe there was something about me that was trash.
But still…as I bring my wounds, my losses, my shame and my questions to God, I see that His way is good. Forgiveness is one of the hardest lessons I’ve ever studied, but there is so much freedom in it. It’s like a secret treasure, like the cave in Pirates of the Caribbean where all the treasure is stored—it’s dark and mysterious and you can’t see all of what’s hidden, but you can see enough to know it’s all treasure.
I can see that doing relationships God’s way, even if it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my whole life—and it is—is really, honestly the best way. There’s so much treasure to come out of it that we can’t even see a tiny part of it. It’s like standing in the mouth of the cave.