Our relationship has been nonexistent at the best of times and problematic, explosive at the worst of times. It boggles the mind to think that we grew up in the same household yet we left it with polar perspectives of family, life and love. Sometimes it feels as if the only way to love her has been loving from the shadows, loving her through gifts given in secret. Sometimes it feels as if the only way to love her family has been loving from the shadows, tenuously stepping into the light of their presence waiting for their permission to approach with words of affirmation and acknowledgement. Sometimes it feels as if the only way to love from the shadows is to speak minimally and quietly before them, but boldly and persistently before the Throne of Grace. How can I show them love when it must be delivered so subtly, almost craftily?
Our relationship had been more of associates than anything else. I knew them not personally, but I knew them from the facility where we both served and volunteered. The news spread that he had to step away for he himself had entered a place in life of needing to be loved and served unconditionally. My heart ached for them for I know what it is like to be known as the one who gives and the one who serves to suddenly fall from the pedestal and become the one who needs. In the midst of the bewildering fall from grace with the lack of direction and purpose and loss of identity, one can’t help but be aware of the assumed judgement and fears of the those around you. Sometimes it feels as if the only way to show love and compassion is to love from the shadows, for to do so more directly may feel like pity or condescension or otherwise embarrassing. As I see them coming through the door of the restaurant, I watch them unseen from my booth. I wonder how things are for them now. Have they known the redemption of healing and grace or is there lingering oppression and woundedness about them? Softly I ask to pay their bill and scurry to my car before they are aware. How can I show them love when it must be delivered so stealthily and unobtrusively?
Our relationship of the past has been one of carnality and clinginess. In the times of desperation, rejection and loneliness, we found the other and learned quickly that even though we both had little to give, we could at least take from the other what little we could grasp. Circumstances and wisdom finally intervened and overcame our dependence and weakness. Sometimes it feels that I can barely hold back the words of encouragement and freedom that have meant so much to me, yet I know to initiate contact anew would be to embrace dysfunctional love again. It would be ever so easy to look up his friends and to accidentally cross paths. It would be ever so easy to send an anonymous card or a gift, especially during the holidays. I know that the One who spoke peace and healing to me is whispering to him as well, but I don’t know if he is listening and if his heart is broken enough to hear. I set aside my answers to his life’s problems and let the One who loves me love him. Sometimes it feels as if the only way to love from the shadows is to be not present. How can I express love when to do so is to be nonexistent, dead to the one who is loved?
Our relationship terminated in divorce yet our relationship will never be severed for we brought children into the world together. After years of infidelity and lack of trust, years of verbal and emotional abuse, the legal proceedings finally set me free from my position, my responsibility to you. But the wounds embedded in my heart and in my mind keep me chained to what you did to me. I learned long ago that to love you is not a safe thing to do. I learned long ago that the anger and bitterness that fills my heart for you gave me the strength to do what I needed to do, for my sake and the sake of our children. To forgive you and release you from punishment and condemnation, even when you are nowhere around to suffer from my sentencing… Sometimes loving from the shadows means releasing ourselves from the darkness of unforgiveness. How can I express love when to do so means denying my right to retribution and my right to protect my reputation?