I stood in the judge’s chambers flanked by social workers as I watched the man in the black robe terminate my mom’s parental rights with the simple stroke of a pen. I stood shocked at the events of that day. I still can see the note she’d left saying that she was gone forever. The only words I remember the judge saying are, “Forever Home”. I was staring at the state seal behind him. I was focusing on the American flag. But I refocused after he granted my request to repeat his words. “It is our goal to find you a forever home and that this day won’t be as traumatic for you as it could be.”
Truthfully, that day, I gave up on anything being forever.
I stood in front of the children’s home the day that my foster parents dropped me off over 200 miles from the only place I’d ever known as a hometown. As they left they said the same thing to me “maybe this will be your forever home”. No longer able to even cry, I stared blankly at them and their taillights as they left me there to somehow try to earn a forever home.
The children’s home was the place where I was first introduced to the concept of a forever God. While my broken heart and shattered spirit craved human and physical attention, I was directed to God and encouraged to trust in Him; I was taught that He never changes and more importantly, He will never leave me as so many had. I heard their words and I read them in the Bible too, but my heart still craved a forever that had a heartbeat.
I stood in front of God and my family as I committed to forever to a man who said the words back to me but didn’t mean them. I ran hard from the pain of that marriage and the violence that occurred inside our home. In order to cope with the pain of my life, I performed in my job, I earned my MBA, I poured into my stepson, I self medicated and I forgave my husband, every time. He was the one that my heart loved. But, it became clear after 12 years that he was not my heart’s forever home. And so I crawled into a deep and dark place where I was convinced that nothing would be forever for me. The resignation of the dream of my forever home was infinitely more painful than any hit or punch I ever received from the man I promised to love forever.
I walked on the beach with my friend, Marla, who helped me get out of that situation. As we walked, she prayed, and I stopped walking and listened to the sounds of the beach. But even the waves couldn’t drown out her prayer where she referenced “reason, season, lifetime” friends. I opened my eyes when she prayed those words and watched the Atlantic Ocean slam into the earth. I felt a little like those waves as she prayed those words. I’d never heard those terms when describing friendships. I was determined of one thing, my friends were one thing that I could make forever and I simply was not going to lay down on that. In a world where nothing seemed to stick, my friends seemed to stick. And so I leaned on them to fill the void left by both my mom and my husband, my heart still sought any relationship that could be forever. Marla lost her battle with cancer not long after that walk on the beach. And while she was my friend for a short amount of time, a “season”, I guess, I would have been her forever friend.
I sat in a restaurant years later when I met Crissy’s parents at one of Clearwater’s best restaurants. Not many years had passed since my divorce but my friendship with Crissy grew quickly and she’d established herself as a forever friend. I’d still not bought into Marla’s assessment of the different kinds of friendships. Almost immediately, Crissy told me that I needed to meet her parents. And when I did, I knew why. Both of them firmly established themselves as my family and somewhere along the way, my heart began to believe in forever again. The day I closed on my house was one of the most precious days of my life. Papa Loughridge told me in the parking lot of the title company that he wanted me to always have a home. The judge’s words came back to me: “forever home”.
I stood in the middle of Crissy’s bedroom and listened to the words coming from the speaker of that computer we call a phone. Papa Loughridge gave us the news we’d all expected but none of us wanted to believe, his wife, Mama Bootsie got the official diagnosis of a rare form of Alzheimers. And suddenly, forever seemed like it could never be long enough.
Just weeks later, I stood in my house stunned as I held my phone in my hand. I simply could not believe what I read in that text message. My friend of over 25 years, more than half my life, decided that she, in fact, fell into one of Marla’s categories, she was a “reason” friend or a “season” one, but that text made it very clear that she was not a forever friend. I was devastated. I am devastated.
I fell to my knees at the end of my bed. I could no longer physically stand as I became resigned, for the last time, that nothing on this planet is forever. The realization of this has weighed heavily on me since that phone call giving us the news that the voice of a giant in my life was not only not forever, but that I would have to lose it slowly. I thought I had more time. I was wrong.
The two events happening so closely together has served to shake my faith in my God, diminish everything I ever believed about Him and driven me to decide if I believed that He is forever, or even God for that matter. That day in my room, when I was on my knees at the end of my bed I served as a relentless cross-examining attorney against the God of the universe.
And that is where I am. I’d like to tell you as these days are getting harder, I am always driven to my forever God. But loss like I have experienced in this life serves as a breeding ground for satan and seeds of doubt, darkness and disbelief. But I stand humbly before His throne because He told me that I could boldly do that. I stand with my head bowed begging Him to help me feel Him as my forever God. I am reminded that I can I can indict Him all I want but that He, in fact, stood in front of people who were supposed to be His forever and they betrayed Him just as I have felt. I am reminded that even though there were nails in His feet He stood dying on a cross that should have been mine. I am reminded of the words that I was taught at the children’s home: “He will never leave you or forsake you”. Those are the only words I can process right now because the loss is too much. These circumstances have absolutely driven me to grab onto my forever God, because He is not here for a “reason” or a “season”, but He is here until He users me off this planet.
And somehow I stand up straight and cling on tightly to the only One Who is holding on to me.
My forever God.
I know hard days are ahead for us. But even through my tears, anger and confusion I simply cannot walk away from my God Who has never walked away from me.
And so He is the one my heart loves. He is my heart’s forever home.
And so, I stand, I sometimes crawl, but I hope that I always bow my knee and my head to my forever God.