Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? – Romans 8:35
When I was about 5 years old, my childhood dog passed away. We found him lying under our back porch on a rainy afternoon. We brought him inside and my mom, dad, two brothers and I loved on him and cried together until he took his last breath. This was the first memory I have of losing someone I love. In the years to come, I would lose a lot of people I loved. I would lose friends, I would lose 3 grandparents, I would lose the man I thought I was going to marry, and I would almost lose both of my parents.
Loss is a funny thing. Sometimes we lose things forever, and other times we lose things but they aren’t actually gone. We just lose what we once knew of that person, place, or thing. I seem to have a pattern of losses in my life. And we all do, whether we see it or not.
People leaving us is a fact of life.
In middle school my mom went to rehab for the first time. She would end up in and out of rehab at least 3 more times in the following 9 or so years. I saw my mom choose a bottle of pills over me for years. Her addiction won, and I lost. After a few years of battling with her addiction, my dad left. He didn’t leave me, but I still lost what I knew as a loving, unbroken home. Not long after that, my dad went out one night for drinks and never came back home. I was left home alone while my dad got arrested for a DUI and spent the night in jail. Addiction: 2, Stevee: 0.
In college I fell in love. I thought it was meant to be, and that me and him and his sweet daughter would live happily ever after. Well, happily ever after lasted about 2.5 years before he moved on and chose another woman over me.
It was really when that relationship ended that I met Jesus. It was in those days of heart break that I felt like I was a chess piece that God literally plucked from the game, and placed me where I was meant to be. In His loving embrace.
I knew of God my whole life. I grew up going to church, I prayed often, and I strongly believed in something greater than myself. But I didn’t KNOW God. I didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus, and I was trying to be the author of my own story, where I really had no business even holding the pen.
It was when I put my hands up, I gave up the pen to its true owner that I realized that yes, people leave. Some people break our hearts, walk away and never look back. But not everybody. Not everyone leaves.
God is the only constant that could and would ever stay with us even for eternity.
As a follower of Jesus, there are two important things I have learned about people leaving. The first, and most important, is that God never leaves us. He never has and he never will. No matter what. No matter how many times we mess up. No matter how far we run. When we hand over the pen, and give our lives to Christ, we are never alone.
Isaiah 41:10 reminds us of this hope, “fear not, for I am with you”. Not only are we not alone, but we do not have to fear!
The second thing I learned about loss is that more often than not, it is for our good. Because we know that God does everything for our good, we can rest in the seasons of loss and heartbreak.
I can only imagine the kind of fear and heartbreak the disciples felt when Jesus died on the cross. The pain, the confusion, the questions they must have had. But oh what joy when they heard of the empty tomb and that their savior had defeated death!
For all the people that have walked away, God has replaced them with others. He has replaced them with people who love me well and push me closer to Jesus daily. For all of the heartbreaks, God has given me a renewed heart for love and what I deserve in a dating relationship. Not to mention Him placing a God-fearing man in my life who has far surpassed any dream or fantasy I have had about a life-partner.
And for my loving parents. As they battled their own demons, God gave me Jesus. He reminded me of the family I was not born into, but adopted into by the grace of God. Both of my parents are clean and sober now. They have fought for their children and we are a closer family now than we have ever been. I am thankful for their addictions because without them, we would have never experienced the redemption, grace & forgiveness that has happened within our family over the last 10 years.
People will leave you. They will walk out on you because that’s what we do in this broken world we live in. We run, we leave, and we are constantly searching for the next best thing. But what we can do is stand firm and secure in our One true love. When everyone else leaves, remember the One who has never left your side.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39