I haven't written in awhile mostly because I have been trying to make our house a home but also because I was stewing. A few weeks back I read this one sentence in the book "Be Transformed" a study of John 13-21. It said, "Love is an important theme in the gospel of John; it is used as a verb or noun a total of fifty-six times."I stared at that sentence for about ten minutes. Love as a verb. Huh. Love as a verb, what does that mean?
When I think about a verb, I think about an action word, at least that is how I describe it to my kids. You are DOING something. This was the crux of what I have been stewing about. I really wanted to write something about how my goal is to be someone who loves as a verb. I want to put my love in to action. I want to cook you a meal when you have a baby and buy gluesticks for the class so the teacher doesn't have to. I want to hug my kids and show my affection. I want to have an active love for my family and the world. It all made a ton of sense until last Friday.
My friend was driving her daughter and two other girls home from Spotlight rehearsal and they were struck by a suspected drunk driver. Two of the girls suffered minor to moderate physical injuries, the third died at the scene. On Saturday morning when my daughter woke up I had to tell her that her friend was gone. It was the hardest parenting moment I have had to date. I could not stop thinking about my friend and how overwhelming the feelings must be. We all say we can't imagine what that family is going through, but the truth is we can imagine it, but we don't want to. I don't want to think those sorts of thoughts or try to put myself in those terrible shoes. I was just numb but I immediately wanted to spring in to action. The problem was, there was nothing for me to "do". I wanted to love on my friends back home but I was 1,000 miles away. I wanted to cook meals and sit in hospitals and hold hands but I couldn't. I was being forced to love quietly, patiently and tearfully. I watched my community of friends rally and love each other in big ways. Through social media, I saw Spotlight kids come together and pray and love one another in the darkest of times. Our town was heartbroken and I saw people from this family's life pour out love in immense ways. I was so uncomfortable. I should be there in the middle of it all organizing and doing and helping - loving as a verb. God said, not this time.
All week I wrestled with my feelings. I cried, I questioned, I felt awful then I felt nothing because I was packing a lunch or driving to school. But I found myself constantly coming back to a feeling of guilt. This morning I realized that I have felt guilty because my grief felt like it was not profound enough because I was just sitting here holding it. I needed the families to know how much I was grieving and praying and loving and somehow bringing a casserole showed that. The thing is instead of cooking I have been praying. Instead of going to vigils I have been vigilant in protecting Em and her heart. It has not felt like enough but I don't know that anything would be enough in these circumstances. My love is typically active but right now it has to just be a presence.
You see, you can love actively without activity. I find it incredibly hard to do because it requires stillness and a quiet mind and patience. That is the trifecta of weakness for me. I stink at all three of those things. But maybe that is why God said no to my doing. I am having to love the Jonaks and the Mickeys in the stillness of God. Frankly, I've got nothing for them. I have no words. I do hard pretty well. Bringing home a new baby with two other kids under five - hard. Moving - hard. Stressful week, kids with the flu, sick parent - hard. I know what to do in those times, but heartbreak, I suck at that. The thing about heartbreak is that I am usually deep in the mud too at that point. How can I offer comfort when I am in it to? My tacos are not going to make losing Katie any less awful. Of course my kindness would be appreciated but it is still awful. The only love that can penetrate that level of pain is God's love. That does not depend on me in any way. I can be an advocate for this family before the Father but He already has them. He always will.
It feels very much like this is part of Katie's gift to our family. Katie and Emmy were very similar - smart, happy, perfectionist tendencies - but Katie had a quiet air about her. As I go forward I still want to love as a verb but I am reminded that sitting, praying, listening - those are verbs too.