~~So my son has been away at college for two weeks now. Fourteen days that seem like a year. I’m past the point of the persistent twinge in my stomach like I ate something bad, and find myself now constantly patting my pockets and checking to be sure I’m carrying my purse because it feels as if I’m forgetting something vital. I’m going to indulge in a bit of what a friend of mine would call melodrama, but it has a point, so try to endure. I miss my kiddo as if a part of myself wandered off and got lost. I long for a text…about anything at all…like the one asking for his license plate number when it’s on the plate that’s on his car, which is with him. That is the highlight of my day. We talked by phone last week and I was ecstatic to just hear his voice. You can tell so much from a voice. We had Facetime on Sunday and I could hardly concentrate on the conversation because I was examining his face for clues. Is he OK? Is he eating? Is he sleeping? Is he getting along with his roommate? Is he stressed? Is he sad? Is he clean? Is he coping? He will be home in 10 days. 10 days that seem like an eternity. I want to touch him. I want to examine him for breakage. I want to hear him moving about in his room, coming in and out the back door, blaring his screamo music while in the shower. I want to fix his favorite meal and take him shopping. I want him to sit at the bar and tell me funny stories, introduce me to all his new friends, complain about his art teacher, his math lessons, and laundry. I want to know all the things. All of them. I want to consume every single moment of his waking life while he’s here (and maybe watch him breathe in his sleep), because it will be so brief. 31/2 days that will seem like a nano-second.
I have intentionally kept my schedule full and have given myself very little time to feel all the feels. It’s just too dangerous to give in. I have kept it all at arm’s length, examining it abstractly as if it’s happening to someone else. But it creeps in. Like yesterday, on the way to the gas station, the still small voice that I have kept at bay suddenly said, “This is how God loves you, Melissa.” And I could barely breathe.
My first response was conviction. It was like having the wind knocked out of you. You know? That desperate sucking that you do trying to draw a straw-full of air into your lungs until your diaphragm relaxes again? Like that. My absence from God…my purposeful avoidance…makes Him feel like I feel right now. In that moment, I saw my role as God’s daughter, so busy and so focused on doing life, that I forget Him. When He asks for Facetime, I shrug and say, “I guess. If you want to.” But I am hasty, and short on the details that He so wants to hear. I consider it a duty to check in with Him, and I check the box until I have to call again. In the meantime, He waits, as I wait, as if waiting is the new purpose of my life.
My second thought, which, if I had the ability to accept love like a normal human being, would be even more devastating, is that God longs for me. He misses me. He feels as if a part of Him has wandered off and gotten lost. He counts the days, the hours, the minutes, between calls, and He watches the time pass as a millisecond when I do finally come home. He feels this same constant ache of loss for His child…His children. In fact, it hurts Him so much that He would rather die than continue to be separated from us. He would give anything if we would just…call home once in a while. To know that I am loved even more than I love my son, is inconceivable to me. I have never known this kind of love as a recipient. The emotion of it is overwhelming, and I’m not sure yet how to receive it. That’s why I’m indulging in a bit of melodrama. I want to feel these feelings and consider what it means to be the object of them.
Thinking about how to respond to being the beloved daughter of God, I ask myself what I want from my son in return for my love. I only want him to know how deeply we love him. How important he is to us. How vital to our own happiness and fulfillment. And, if I’m honest, I suppose I do want that to have some value to him. I do want him to respond to that by not depriving us of himself. That is our joy. To see him fly. To see him succeed. To still have his trust when he has a need. To still be where he lands when he falls. I want him to come home occasionally and be generous with us, sharing his life with us as his constant supporters, encouragers, advisors, and biggest fans. I just think that there is no way he can understand. He has never loved this way, this all-consuming love that only a parent can understand. He has only been loved this way, and in it, he feels an eternal security that makes no unreasonable demands on him. He has received a heavy grace without feeling the weight of it. As it should be for him. As it is with us. And yet… and yet… it’s a love that begs a response when we allow ourselves to feel it.
Maybe you “get” this better than I do. It’s pretty simple, I think, on an intellectual level. God loves us with an all-consuming love. Blah blah blah. We say that. But we don’t feel it, neither as those who love like that, nor as those who receive it. And I’m not sure we could live every day in the constant wash of that emotion, not productively anyway. I would be undone. On my face in the carpet. Worthless for the day’s work. But I do think that we should give in to the emotion occasionally and really receive the love that God has for us as His children. I need to be less selfish with myself and my time. I need to fuel His joy. See…even writing that makes me nervous. ME? Give Him JOY? It seems so presumptuous, and yet I know it to be true in my own aching heart. He wants us to fly, and then He wants us to remember Him who gave us wings. That’s all really.
So, maybe it’s time to call home, get in a little Facetime. If you’re super-pressed for time, send a text until you can do more, but remember your daddy today. He misses you. He really misses you. Trust me on this.