My Easter reflections are a little late, but I still want to get them posted. Easter meant more this year than it normally does because Todd and I are no longer in a relationship. That might be a really strange way to start an Easter post, but I hope it makes sense in a minute. My relationship with Todd ended mid-March. I don’t plan to go into detail on my public blog other than to say two things. First, ending the relationship wasn’t an easy decision and wasn’t my preferred plan for our future. Second, it’s been a tough month or two. It’s difficult to walk down the road from anticipatory “when we…” statements, to the more tentative “if we….” statements, and then into the haunting “what if we had…” statements. It’s pretty tough to go from thinking about someone every day for over a year and a half because I wanted to think about how I could make his life better to go to thinking about someone every day because I wonder what life would have been like with him.
That’s the context of Easter for me this year. I started listening to the audiobook Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts in the weeks leading up to Easter. And, Jerry Bridges spends some time in the book reflecting on how Christ’s sacrifice satisfied the greatest need that we had — the need to have the penalty for our sins taken away. He then moves onto Romans 8:32:
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things
Bridges goes on to make the statement that my Easter revolved around this year:
If God loved us so much to give us the greatest conceivable gift, then surely He will not withhold any lesser blessing from us. Or to restate this truth in a way more applicable to our present theme: If God’s love was sufficient for my greatest need, my eternal salvation, surely it is sufficient for my lesser needs, the adversities I encounter in this life.
I wish I could say that as soon as I read that I gave the “good” Christian response of prayers of thanksgiving to God, but really, I was angry. My first response was to say, “Well, that’s well and good that I have salvation, and since you’re great enough to give me salvation, I really think you’re capable enough to let me keep my boyfriend too!” And, I knew even as I was saying those words that they were dumb, that they cheapened my salvation to something far less than what it really is, but those were words of honesty to God right then. I think breakups are something like puncture wounds to our hearts; they sink deep, and the people going through them have to push everything to the surface, the good memories and the hurt alike, so everything can be dealt with before letting the wound close and getting on with life. Otherwise, memories and hurt that aren’t dealt with will fester and cause the poisoning of other relationships later.
After I heard that statement in Bridges’ book, I couldn’t stop thinking about it though as Easter approached. In all the what ifs, all the tears, all the times of thinking about the good things that Todd and I were doing at this time last year, all the fears about my own future, I just kept being convinced that God wouldn’t die for me just to abandon me. The song One Thing Remains had become near to my heart. If I sing it in church or chapel, it’s still a toss up if the tears will start to roll during it. But, that’s because the promise that God’s love never fails is such a powerful truth that I have to cling to right now. Easter couldn’t just be a Sunday of going and reflecting for one Sunday on the sacrifice of Christ. Instead, the sacrifice of Christ has to be a daily reality for me. I still want a man to come into my life who can make that love tangible, but God has once again showed me that He has to have the primary place in my heart for that all to make sense. And, He’s been abundantly gracious to bring people across my path to continue to remind me of the generous love that He pours out to me regardless of my relationship status. He’s used my family, the friends who came running with ice cream, follow-up emails from colleagues who knew the tentativeness of the situation, a work community excited to know I’ll continue on where I’m at instead of getting married and moving away to show me that He can take care of me in tangible ways.
And, God has continue to allow me to stumble across truth that help me reason through the situation in the logical framework that I need right now to steer me towards the truth of how God is at work in my life, not in easy ways but nonetheless at work.. He’s showed me insights like this from one of my colleagues, Becky Toews, who wrote Virgin Snow: Leaving Your Mark in the World. Becky wrote:
All too often we attribute unfairness in life to God. But life in this world has been distorted from its original intent. C.S. Lewis refers to humans as being “bent” due to the consequences of the fall. We all have “bent” sin natures that can hurt other people . Our free will can choose good or evil, and God typically won’t override our choice in order to fix things. So in a fallen world, our hope can never be that rejection and betrayal won’t happen. We have the assurance, however, that the rejections and betrayals we experience will be used, in time, for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28).
And, so, I can look back and see so many good times with Todd, and I can see “bent” decisions made by both of us that in the end we didn’t overcome. But, I can trust God to be at work now; I can ask him for help in my own life to make good decisions, to address all the good and bad within that puncture wound, to be someone who doesn’t waste what He’s trying to teach me on this difficult season of life. Becky gave this thought from Brennan Manning in her book, and I want to make it my heartbeat to help me wade through the moments when I still cry out “Why can’t there be another way to learn these lessons?”
The splendor of a human heart that trusts it is unconditionally loved gives God more pleasures and causes him more delight than the most magnificent cathedral ever erected or the most thunderous organ ever played. -Brennan Manning
I want to be better than a cathedral.