These last weeks have felt like some of the most vulnerable moments of my life on two very different fronts. To begin with, for the first time in my life, I initiated a relationship with a guy. I know for some that could sound like not a big deal, even laughable. But for me it was a grave challenge, one that required all of my most outstanding abilities and qualities. In some ways it was a radical break from my own "rules," (of wanting the man to initiate), a major paradigm shift and definitely a giant step out of my own happy, little comfort zone. It was part of a long, epic battle, a certain jousting within myself about whether I would share my feelings openly in the light or leave them buried in a deep, dark corner of my soul.
The week before my bounding leap, friends, mentors, and family all gave me their well-meaning but conflicting advice about how I should advance in my relationship with him. "Drop him," "wait for him to lead," "tell him how you feel," they said. It could have been quite confusing. In my heart, though, I knew something had to change. I concluded that it was a win-win decision to disclose my feelings to him. Either way was not going to break me. Thankfully, God has led me to a level place where finally I know who I am. I am a woman who is worthy of a great man. And so if this man wasn't interested, it would not speak to me of any of my own shortcomings- not being beautiful enough, good enough, or smart enough. Quite simply he would not be the one for me, and I would simply be free to move on. On the other hand, it could be the beginning of a great and sweeping romance.lol. So why hide in darkness?
When the moment of truth came, I thought it would be a big, earth-shattering moment, but I can't say that I was terribly eloquent, witty or audacious in my approach. It was simple, straight to the point and a rather weak outburst, "I have a confession, I like you!!!" So, I'd also like to tell you everything became clear in that moment, but all I can say to end my first story is that my love story is still being written. My bold jump was one step towards greater understanding, but there is still a journey to be traversed. I can, however, stand confidently knowing that I have won a great personal victory, and my love life is very secure in God's hands. I do wish He would hurry things up, though!
But if my first story seems somewhat trivial, my second is not. Something happened that forced me to feel the depth of how vulnerable life and love really are. My sister and her husband were at the Boston marathon during the recent bombing. My brother-in-law Ryan had planned this expedition for months in advance. He had previously won the local Abbotsford "Run For Water" for the past two years. Running the Boston marathon had seemed like the next challenge for him to undergo and overcome. My sister Sophia also was enthusiastic to escape the mundane of Abbotsford life and see something new and exciting in the famous American city. On the morning of April the 15th, I was busy managing twenty high-energy second graders. It seemed just a typical day of teaching. As I was strolling back after lunch to a peaceful afternoon with the kids, the PE teacher who I hardly knew stopped me and asked if I had heard about explosions at the Boston marathon. My heart dropped as I stared at him in wide-eyed confusion and disbelief. How was that even possible? Surely, he must have made a mistake, but as I considered it more, no one could make that kind of error.
I probably should have stopped quickly to text my sister to see if they were safe, but I tend towards over responsibility for my work. Who really knows how to respond in those moments either? I chose instead to gather my students from outside and try to teach a regular lesson. Bad idea. The thoughts that bombarded my head over those final two hours of teaching sought to unnerve me. I tried to focus on helping the students cut out beautiful spring flowers. Spring flowers! That should have kept me feeling cheery and looking on the bright, positive side of life. Instead worst-case scenarios played over in my head, as we pinned their pretty pictures up on the class bulletin board. I could only think of my own little nephew and niece and their parents whose lives may have been forever altered on that day. As soon as my students had safely joined their parents, I raced back to the classroom and called my parents to see if they had received any news. I breathed a sigh of relief as I heard that Ryan and Sophia were safe, hiding away in their hotel (even if it was in Watertown). As the story continued to unfurl, I discovered he had finished the race only an hour before the bombs had exploded. (Thank God that Ryan is a fast runner. Talk about running for your life?) I became even more acutely aware of how close a call it was when later that night, I watched the news. I saw the cloud of smoke arising, the people screaming and even falling at the very same finish line where Sophia had cheered so proudly for her husband only six minutes earlier.
Even now, it is hard for me to process what has really happened. How can we process these tragedies? Random thoughts but perhaps there is some life in them. Time to to slow down. Time to be thankful. Time to turn our hearts to God. Time to love those who have been broken and wounded. Time to protect that which remains. Time to hope for something better.
I will end with a C.S. Lewis quote I began my previous blog with:
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in the casket safe, dark, motionless, airless it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable. C.S. Lewis 4 Loves.
My prayer is that areas where my heart has been locked away and dead, the casket door would swing open. That God would somehow redeem my life and story to burst forth healing through the sorrows but also the joys!