“I am never going to let anyone get close enough to me to cause this kind of pain ever again.” That’s what I vowed soon after the death of my husband. And, I meant it. I would avoid the excruciating ordeal of losing another deeply loved person at all costs. I would guard my teenage children with a passion and they would be my life. That would be enough. I had fallen in love once and it was wonderful, but the fear of loss and that punch-in-the-gut feeling was too much to endure again. And with that, I worked diligently at shutting that part of me down.
At first, it wasn’t too difficult. I threw myself into activities that didn’t require much of “me.” I was a football mom, a band mom, a wrestling mom. I even volunteered to help with track meets and I wasn’t a track mom. AT church, I led a Bible Fellowship class within our youth group and I directed the Children’s choir. In those moments when activities didn’t fill my thoughts, Grief took over. There were many friends that were supporting me and trying to help me get on with life. Unfortunately, I tended to focus on those that offered support and then weren’t really available when I needed their help. This was further evidence, in my mind at least, that I shouldn’t let anyone into my life. They would only let me down or disappear from my life. I had to be strong and self-sufficient. I would take care of Zac and Gracie. I didn’t need anyone else. I continued to shut down.
I discovered that you can’t just shut down pieces of yourself. It’s an all or nothing venture. While I was doing a very good job of keeping myself “safe” from other people, I was also distancing myself from friends that I wanted and needed. 1 John 4:8 states “Whoever does not love, does not know God, because God is love.” In my attempt to never be hurt by love ever again, I had distanced myself from all love: including, the love of my God.
A friend reminded me that the pain I felt after Terry’s death was proportional to love that I’d had for him. I wouldn’t give up a minute of the time I had with him in order to hurt less. So, although I’m still determined to be strong and self-sufficient in order to take care of my family and myself, I’ve come to the realization that I have to leave myself open to the danger that is inherent in loving others. Love doesn’t have to include romance. I’ve come to value the love that is part of a dear friendship. But, love will always include the risk of being hurt. That’s the risk we have to take. It’s a risk well worth taking!
My God-sized dream for 2013: to grow in my love for God and people.