The dance of meeting someone is always fascinating to me. Both parties test the waters and want to know one thing, “Can I trust this person?” It takes time to develop such trust. And it’s especially hard to develop relationships knowing that a time will come when both people have to say goodbye. Each day that passed, I was picturing the idea of flowers in bloom. Personalities come out fully when trust is established and things become more beautiful, more real, and more raw. My way to avoid that uncomfortable feeling was to work on the porch.
The first day, I gained confidence over some power tools. But, that was in NO way the REASON that I was there. The next day, I did some porch work, but less than before and with help from my new found friends the Martin children. The third day, the porch work was only in the back of my mind as the relationships I was forming became more glaringly important.
I found Jesus saying to me, “Isn’t that the way that anything has meaning—through relationships?” One of my professors used to say that the three things necessary for growth in counseling were, “Relationship. Relationship. Relationship.” The same is true for serving. As Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you say, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” I wanted those children to feel valued, included, nurtured, and loved. During those few days it was what I wanted more than anything else.
Just as my spirit predicted would happen, being intentionally relational made for a painful separation on Thursday. As my family took our car away from the lot, I saw sweet Corey wave her hands for us to stop. Those big blues eyes with her freckles and curly strawberry blonde hair came to my window with a look of both hope and sadness.
She handed me a tiny tin box with princesses on it. It had been used as a tin to carry puzzle pieces but they were not there, but that didn’t matter. We both said we loved each other and as we drove off I wept. I had loved and it hurt. The Healer and Comforter whom I know and love would always be with those children too and I was merely a privileged vessel to have lived with those precious faces in their world. The same One who loves me fiercely at my worst and best was there before I showed up and I’m resting in that.
Henri Nouwen sums this up best: "Every time we make the decision to love someone, we open ourselves to great suffering, because those we most love cause us not only great joy but also great pain. The greatest pain comes from leaving… if we want to avoid the suffering of leaving, we will never experience the joy of loving. And love is stronger than fear, life stronger than death, hope stronger than despair. We have to trust that the risk of loving is always worth taking."