O Love That Will Not Let Me Go
“O love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee.
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.”
Text: George Matheson
Music: Albert L. Peace
Jesus and I broke up. We’d been going steady for quite a few years. We began as friends when I was a little girl and over the years our relationship had grown into something deeper. I was sure we’d end up together, forever. That was before my life began to unravel. It was an ugly, lonely, heart-breaking time. He and I didn’t talk much during that time. I think it was my fault. I was too sad. Too broken. Also, I’d found two new friends, Cabernet and Merlot. My new friends kept me company almost every afternoon and often well into the evening back then. They helped me to feel less unraveled, less unloved, and less broken.
I’d gone to The Journey the fall after I’d begun to unravel. I’d signed up, unsigned up, and re-signed up with much trepidation. I think I was afraid to face the skeletons lurking in my closet. The skeletons that were beginning to stir.
Just months before signing up to go to The Journey, I’d found out that my childhood abuser was dying. My mother had called to tell me the news. Talking with her that day, I felt angry and betrayed. I cried tears of frustration. She’d asked me why I was so upset. I’d yelled into the phone that I, too, had been worth protecting. She’d protected the others, but not me. She’d said matter of factly, “I was a bad mom.” Silence.
In the days and months following my abuser’s diagnosis, my family of origin, the abuser’s church family (the church in which I’d grown up), and many others rallied around the abuser. I guess dying trumps abuse. The skeletons danced wildly to a loud dissonant cacophony of scratching, screeching music that played non-stop inside my head day and night. I continued to unravel.
My abuser died the spring after I’d been to The Journey. I discovered that life does not stop just because yours is coming undone. I went through the motions of making dinner, mowing the grass, working, and caring for grandchildren occasionally. I did it with a listlessness in my spirit. Some days the broken strands were neatly tucked, and other days they were flying about like dandelion seeds in a windstorm. I was scared for my sanity. I was scared for my life.
I wanted to call Jesus and tell him how much I missed him and needed him, and that I longed to go steady with him again.
I treated myself as others were treating me by telling myself that I needed to suck it up, deal with it, and get over it. I was failing miserably at all three.
I longed to feel His presence and peace, but when I’d try to draw close to Him, all I felt was numbness, emptiness, and shame. It felt like He had abandoned me just as my family of origin had. I ached for Him to knit the dirty, tangled, unravelled strands back together into a whole person instead of the mess I’d become. I desperately needed Him to rescue me from myself, and to love me back to Himself.
Though the knitting back together is not completed, it feels like the strands are less tangled and less undone. I’m starting to see more “beauty for ashes” in my life. Looking back, I see this as one chapter of my life, not my entire life. I’ve chosen to believe that Jesus was always there and that He always cared. I was just too shattered, too angry, and too broken to feel His presence or to hear His voice.
Thankfully, He never stopped gifting me with: sunrises, sunsets, a husband who loves me well, children who care about their mama, grandchildren who bring me joy, a few faithful friends, gardens, music, stories, laughter, tears, summer storms, Lake Michigan waves, and the promise that He loves me with an everlasting love. I cling to that love with my entire being.
the one who knit you together
in your mother’s womb.
I am picking up your unravelled strands
and knitting them back together.
None of it is too tattered,
too broken for me.
I am taking what Satan meant for harm
and turning it into good.
MY LOVE WILL NEVER LET YOU GO.
Barbara was a little girl who didn’t talk until she was three years old, and yet, ironically, she became a lover of words and stories. And the telling of stories. She is another to three great kids, grandmother to ten fun grandchildren, and wife to one amazing man who has loved her steadily through thick and thin. She feels great affection for her people, her two dogs, sunshine, cowboy boots, art, music, books, sunsets, Lake Michigan, and laughter. She forever grateful for a Savior who has never let her go, even in the darkest of times.
Your words are beautiful. Many of them ring true in my heart. Your heart is beautiful, even when you think otherwise. Its no wonder Jesus pursues you always. I love how your have an awareness in yourself, to know Jesus loves you, and never leaves you. Thank you for sharing. Love, Teresa
Hello Teresa – Thank you for your kind and encouraging words. Barbara
Barbara, the timing of this post is uncanny. It surprised me with tears from a deep place, tears that needed to fall. From the opening lines of one of my favorite hymns to the words at the end, I wept for a girl who was so worth protecting and for my own girl inside. Thank you for being there for her today and for sharing your choice to believe in the midst of your pain. I love your perspective that one chapter is not all of the chapters. You are beautiful and so very loved. Chasing the rainbow through the rain today.
Hi Julie – Thank you for your kind words. I love it that you love that hymn, too. The words of that hymn are so deep and rich. Barbara
Barbara, you are an amazing writer. Your words took my breath away. You caused me to realize Jesus in a new way. Someone to break up with. I never thought of him that way. And …. it is powerful. You are so worth having been protected. I agree with Julie, the beginning of the words to the hymn was SO POWERFUL. I am grateful you are caring for that little girl who is priceless and beautiful.
Thank you for your comments and your encouragement, Becky. I’m thankful he is faithfully walking with me as I journey back to him. One step at a time. Barbara
Barb, your pain has been and still is very real! I love the picture of your unraveling heart being pieced back together by the only One who can really do that. I love the beautiful gifts He continues to show you, and YOU are one of those greatest gifts. Thank you for the gift of sharing your heart. I Iove you and appreciate your friendship more than you know.
Christine, Thank you for your comments, your encouragement and your friendship. Barbara
Barbara, I, too have had a ruptured relationship with Jesus. He was my first love and then I felt he betrayed me when my life unraveled. Understanding helped me move past that feeling of betrayal, but I have held myself back from fully loving him again. I try again and again to reconnect deeply with my first love, and my friends joke that I keep meeting Jesus (for the second, third…ninety-third time). Thankfully, Jesus is always there, waiting for me to let go of my anger (at him and myself) and to receive the love he offers Thanks for sharing.
Hi Madeline, Thank you for commenting and sharing your thoughts about the piece I’d written about faith and my break up with Jesus. I was thinking today about why is it that some people are easy to love and some seem almost impossible to love. I thought, or God was telling me, to think of each person like a work of art – unique, special, valuable because of their Creator – and that I need to begin to view people the way God sees them – as HIS artwork. I don’t know about you, but there are some pieces of art that I have to study and look at over and over again to really understand it or appreciate it. I have a feeling that perhaps God sees all of us as unique pieces of art work. As we make efforts to reconnect deeply with our first love – he is looking at us – his unique pieces of artwork – and smiling as he watches us receive His love over and over again. This is probably a very long way of saying, I get what you’re saying! I want so badly to fall madly in love with Jesus again – instead of doing this dance of closeness/distance. It will come. My faith tells me that He is not going to let either one of us go.