Stay Near to Me
This is a more difficult topic for me, because it involves a lot of personal, ongoing grief. No earthly relationship is permanent. They all end, and I find that very difficult to digest.
I have been focusing the past year or so on how to build strong relationships, investing the type of time, energy, and purpose to encourage godly, lasting, and rewarding relationships.
I still think quite a bit about a couple my family came in contact with 21 or so years ago. They were engaged and very in love, and during a moment of showing off for his fiancé, my dad’s hospital roommate performed an air flip, changing his life when he landed on his head and broke his neck. The worst part about this story in my 7-year-old mind was when I heard that the man decided they could no longer get married and his fiancé agreed. Loving a person is a lot more than physical aptitude, and actual love does not just stop because of an accident. I do understand though that without a deeper well of love to draw from, they were facing a difficult future.
Some relationships are not supposed to end, and from a very young age I placed my relationships with my family in that category. We traveled a lot, and no matter where we were, I liked having my closest friends and loved ones with me pretty much wherever I went: my mom, my dad, and my sister.
Of course that was before I realized that all relationships will end, whether they should or shouldn’t.
C. S. Lewis’ book, A Grief Observed, has been a huge help for me to process grief and loss better.
“I had yet to learn that all human relationships end in pain—it is the price that our imperfection has allowed Satan to exact from us for the privilege of love,” Douglas Gresham.
“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid,” C. S. Lewis.
“Why has no one told me these things? How easily I might have misjudged another man in the same situation? I might have said, ‘He’s got over it. He’s forgotten his wife,’ when the truth was, ‘He remembers her better because he has partly got over it,’” C. S. Lewis.
Of course the ideal relationship in this world would be the one that remains faithful till the very last moment. One reason why I was so impacted by that couple’s story of breaking up as a kid was because my parents were in the same situation, but my mom stayed. In fact, she was not going anywhere except by my dad's side. Leaving was not an option, and she has been fighting for their relationship ever since. Whether he was paralyzed or sick did not matter to her, because she loved the person. My dad has lived with chronic pain and paralysis for almost 21 years. That testimony is still happening because of a relationship and love that only God could give.
But why is that the ideal? We all long for that, and we all know that is a sign of true strength and true love, but scientifically speaking, it almost would make sense to never pursue any relationships, knowing that they will all eventually end in pain.
The one relationship that will never end and acts like the umbrella over all our earthly relationships is our relationship with Christ. When we fight for earthly relationships, we are imitating Christ’s fight for us. Christ came to earth and died in order to make our relationship with Him eternal. Jesus went through unimaginable pain in order to make a permanent relationship with us a possibility. Even now, He still fights to have a relationship with us since we often forget or reject Him.
I John 4:19, “We love because he first loved us.”
I love God because He loved me first. I love my family, because God loved me first. I am capable of loving in relationships with others because of God's initial love for me.
When looking towards the end of earthly relationships, I find a lot of comfort in my eternal relationship with the Lord. I can love and remain faithful to relationships until the last moment because I have an endless supply of love at my fingertips. I can handle earthly grief because I have a permanent relationship with God to help me and comfort me.
I am thankful for the grief I have experienced, am experiencing, and will experience, because…
- It proves that I have loved deeply and have been loved deeply.
- It has strengthened my relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.