Love Trusts Enough to Keep the Light On
We all have trust issues, because trusting is a full-contact sport. There is no such thing as half-trust. Trust either is, or it isn’t. Sadly, we live in a world that is ripe with reasons to not trust others. Too much heartache…too many broken lives…too many casualties. How, then, can we fully engage in “always trusting” when the world seems to consistently prove that it is untrustworthy?
For all the reasons that we have to not trust, Christians possess one particular reality that allows us to continue to trust that there is still goodness within the realm of mankind: God can do “more than we could ever think or imagine”.
My senior year of high school was particularly dark. On the outside, I looked like I had it all: good looks, good grades, good fun, and good potential. But inside, I was hollow. I don’t know when it began or why, but there was a sadness running deep within my soul. At the time, I felt pulled along by all the things around me, as if I was merely a wave tossed on the sea – not knowing where I was going. I felt as if I could have been plunged into the depths of the ocean, never to be seen or heard from again, like a singular wave absorbed by the enormity of the sea around me. Scattered, splattered, and sprayed until I was nothing but a faint piece of a larger whole – like the lingering scent of strong perfume, when no one is in sight…
I had not told my mother any of my sadder feelings, not because I didn’t want to tell her, but because it was happening to me at such an alarming rate that I myself had not even been able to fully comprehend what was happening within my soul. I just knew that I didn’t know, and no matter how I tried to try, I couldn’t wrap my brain around what was happening fast enough to get ahead of it. I was just a wave who could not outrun the hurricane coming.
I remember coming into the house after working the dinner shift. I walked towards the glowing lamp light coming from my mother’s room and plopped down on her bed – exhausted from a long night of waiting tables (and from the constant barrage of sadness against my soul). I didn’t even really say anything except maybe a “Hey, just wanted you to know I’m home.” “Yeah, it was a busy shift, but not bad. It was good.”
Mom, without a change in her tone, folded down the corner of the newspaper that she was reading to look at me lying there at the foot of her bed. My face was turned away from her, but I heard the paper rustle, and trajectory of her voice, like an arrow, lock aim in my direction. Then, with the most unobtrusive and gentle touch, I felt her hand, palm open, rest on the top of my head. Without pomp or circumstance, rather matter-of-factly, she said, “Daly, you know that God loves you, right?”
Honestly, still to this day, I do not know how she knew what to say and when. I don’t think I ever told her before she died. But, from the tone in her voice, I could tell that she did not believe she was saying anything earth-shattering. To her, it was just the truth – just a fact – same as if she were to say something obvious, like, “I turned my wipers on while driving in the rain.”
But her words were more than just a fact, for me. Something about the way she said it, the way she believed it so confidently and assuredly, was like an invisible battering ram against the shadowy lockdown of my inner sadness. Instantly, my eyes were hot with tears. Not an ugly cry of Hollywood elites, or the pouting of “semi-fouled” NBA players. (Yeah, Lebron, I’m talking about you!) No, it was the silent leak that just flowed out from deep within…like infection being leeched out from a festering wound.
I broke. Or, better said: the darkness broke, and I saw some light. Light that I didn’t even know I needed, because I didn’t even realize how thick the fog had become, or how my eyes had grown accustomed to the darkness that had stealthily dimmed the Light within me.
I just laid there, her hand resting on my head, letting the warm, dark tears flow. I would like to say that I chose to rest in the moment and soak my wounds in the salve of her words. But I wasn’t even that aware of what was happening. It wasn’t that I chose not to move: the truth was: I couldn’t move. Something bigger, more significant was happening within – like surgery.
When the tears stopped, and I felt I had gained some awareness of what had just happened, I discreetly dried my damp cheeks on the sleeve of my work polo before I turned my face to look at her. Her eyes were moving back and forth across the newspaper page, and she used the hand that briefly rested on my head to give the folded corner a firm shake, as if to say “straighten up, before I give you something to whine about” (one of her favorite “parenting” threats). She asked if I was heading to bed or if I had any homework to keep me up, and I responded with some version of “I think I have homework, but maybe I can get up early and finish it in the morning.” We said our goodnights and I love you’s…just like we always did. But, for me, this night was not the same as the others. Something had changed.
Now, looking back, I realized that it wasn’t just that something had changed. From this point on, everything in my world changed. I saw differently, thought different, felt differently. Not always happy, and not always right or good. But there was a definite shift in my soul that night – all because my Mother always trusted in God’s goodness towards me.
Paul wanted to remind his readers that God’s ever-giving, ever-supporting love would always believe good things towards us. But he also wanted to remind his audience that there is spiritual power unlocked in people’s lives when we live lovingly towards others because we believe that God has a loving purpose in all things. We realize that, because this other person is a human, they are imprinted with the reflection of God Himself. Their life is some sort of echo of a God who is ALL love, ALL power, ALL wisdom. Because our eyes have been opened to the Original Voice – the Word who created every single human – then it is our great calling and honor to remember the Creator’s great purpose in humanity: His glory.
To love another, simply for the fact that God created them, is to love the Creator. It is to amplify the Original Word that continues to call out into the world today in the life of every single human being. Regardless of where people are in their lives today – addictions, brokenness, lost, saved, Pharisee, or Saint – God is not done. He is still working, still moving, still calling, still loving, and still saving. We can always trust this. Always. Because God does not change – like the shifting shadows of our broken world. His plan is *still* to show Himself to us through humanity.
Even in the face of great personal betrayal – when it seems impossible to trust again – we can still say “You may have hurt me, and I will have to pick up these pieces and adjust how I relate to you, but I still believe that God can do more than I can think and imagine…REGARDLESS of you.”
Does Paul intend that we blindly trust people who are actively hurting or harming our hearts? Not at all. But Paul does mean to say that even in what seems like hopeless, helpless lives, God can move. God can redeem. No one is beyond the reach of God’s mighty redemptive arm. And in these extremely difficult and painful circumstances, we are able to step away in grace – giving God the room to break through to their souls, while also protecting our hearts from both ongoing pain and burgeoning resentment and hatred. We can always trust that God does not give up on humans, even when we have to give up trying to help in ways we have always helped before.
And in our healthy relationships, our safe places, where we can support and help without harming others or overlooking harm to ourselves, we can be the reminder of the Original Word to the ones we love – just as my Mother was for me. We can believe in the goodness we see imprinted on our loved ones, when they cannot see it themselves. When depression, sadness, loneliness, unwise living, addictions, and heartache seem to envelope them, we can always believe in the God that loves them and simply give voice to that truth. By our support and encouragement, we can hold onto the hope that they cannot seem to grasp for whatever reason. As matter-of-fact as my Mother’s words, we can continue to echo the Creator’s intentions in this world: redeeming that which is lost, healing that which is diseased, and calling forth life from things that are dead.
So, we do not go blindly into this spiritual practice. We do not ignore the obvious facts of imperfect people, broken relationships, and battered hearts. But, at the same time, we confidently trust that the Potter is still placing treasures in these simple jars of clay.
ARTWORK BY: Lauren Garner of Willow & Stone Designs.
To see more of her beautifully creative artwork, check her out on Instagram @willowandstonedesigns .