Don’t Take Them For Granted
Craig and I met with friends one night last week and enjoyed some intense fellowship as we shared some pretty hearty laughs but also divulged deep hurt and loss that led to tears at one point. We’re not close friends with these folks but it’s impossible to not feel drawn closer to someone when you, and they, have become vulnerable enough to cry in front of each other and reveal a part of your heart that has been wounded by loss. Our friends’ loss is more recent – about 2 years ago, a young lady who may as well have been their daughter was tragically killed in a car accident (riding in a vehicle one mile to pick up drinks for a party. One mile. No, no alcohol was involved.) Their son and this girl had been friends since they were born fighting and playing like brother and sister into their teen years.
My heart breaks for this young man as I experienced this pain 22 years ago when my brother died at the age of 16.
After we went home from the visit with our friends, I went to bed thinking about the heartrending loss of their young friend and as I drifted off to sleep, it hit me. All of my adult life I have longed for THAT friend. That kindred spirit that loves my kids as my own and I love theirs. That friend that I would take special trips with, buy gifts for, hang out with, argue with and not fear loss of their friendship, and call at least every 3 days. Some of you enjoy this kind of friendship. Thank God and don’t take them for granted. What hit me was that I haven’t been longing for a friend that I have yet to meet; I long for the friend I had and will never have again, my brother, Scott. Every time I’ve had a baby (reminder – 11 times), I have felt SO very sad that Scott wasn’t there to see his newest niece or nephew. Then I revisit those emotions I struggled with when Scott died like: “He was so young!” “We’ve only been close friends for a couple of years; why couldn’t you have waited, Lord?” Then there are new hurts: “Our kids would have been best friends.” “He would have been SO much fun to spend time with.” “Scott might have kept Todd, our younger brother, from becoming estranged from his family.” “Scott would’ve homeschooled, too.”
When you lose someone, many people offer, or try to offer, encouragement by telling you “time heals all wounds.” I know this won’t be a huge newsflash for those of you who have lost someone close to them, but wounds like that don’t really heal. That’s how it should be. If you don’t hurt and long to see them again, then you weren’t really close. The scars remind you how deep the love is and the loss is. You learn to “deal” with this kind of loss but the hurt doesn’t go away. In fact, as I noted in the previous paragraph, new dimensions are added to the pain that can cause the ache to go even deeper. New “what ifs” make their appearance and there’s not a thing you can do about it. I give it to God and trust that He knows what to do with it but sometimes, I go through bouts of that helplessness. Then you find pictures, as I did today, and you lose them all over again…and again…and again. BUT, I have hope. I don’t know how anyone make’s it through without Christ. To lose my brother is bad enough but to not have the hope that I WILL see him again, I don’t know that I could function. I love him more than when he was here and I believe that’s because I am looking forward to seeing him again! Wow.
Loss also helps us tie heartstrings with others when they experience loss and it’s looking to the needs of others that keeps us from feeling sorry for ourselves. Our new-found friends’ suffering is still fresh and Craig and I have discussed our intent to reach out and encourage them. In the meantime, hug your friends. Tell your spouse you love them. Smile at and hug your children. I know it’s cliché but it’s so very true – you don’t know how much longer you have them.
“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.”
1 Thessalonians 4:12-18
Scott would have loved this: Minister at a funeral service, “Friends, let us say goodbye to our beloved, departed friend. Let us remember that here lies only the shell – the nut has gone!”
Be blessed and hugs in Him!
Scott loved purple. His fave places to shop were the GAP and the Merry-Go-Round. This is the shirt and tie he was buried in.
What’s not shared is lost,