A 9 year old girl moved suddenly from a brick home in an established northern Indiana neighborhood to a trailer in the deep south of the north Georgia mountains with her mother, father, and brothers. While she thought the beauty of the rolling hills and twinkling starry skies of the rural countryside held beauty she’d only seen in pictures, she felt displaced, like a fish out of water. She felt awkward and like a misfit in her new school environment. Adding to this, her father began making plans to separate from her mother, and his already short temper became worse, creating a stressful home environment. It seemed that his aspirations in life rose far above what his family could provide him. Her innocent childhood heart interpreted that his lack of love for them and his constant dark moods were somehow her fault. That perhaps if she were prettier or funnier, or more popular… he would have loved her and her family enough to stay with them, as other fathers did. When he left her family to live with another woman, she felt abandoned and unworthy of love from a father, one of the most precious relationships available to children.
Many of you may have guessed that I was the little girl in this story, and the sweet side of this bittersweet tale is that my Father in heaven had a provision waiting for me.
My grandfather and grandmother lived close enough for me to walk… just through the woods from our trailer. Their home wasn’t a place of grandeur by any worldly estimation, but to a young girl who so desperately craved peace and family comfort, it could have been a mansion. There’s a song, “When Irish Eyes are Smiling,” that my grandfather and I would sing together, along with other Irish ballads. He in his loud bass bravado, and I in my quiet soprano, would sing until our voices grew tired. I found acceptance in their country home. But more importantly, I felt valued. Their “Irish” eyes smiled and twinkled every time I came to their door for a visit, and little by little, my heart began to heal.
I believe there are several ingredients that sparked healing from those visits with my grandparents. First, I had faith in their unconditional love for me. Their actions in welcoming me and investing time in me proved their love. Then, I saw through the reflection in their smiling eyes, that I was worthy of being valued and appreciated, just for being me, the creature God created. There is something so powerful in the knowledge that someone truly cares for you. That no matter what, we have total security in their love that will not waver and will never be purposefully taken away. The third component in our healing relationship was their integrity. Trust was crucial here, and by following the Lord’s examples in living their lives for Him, I knew that they were a safe place for my tender heart because of Who they served.
What I experienced is unfortunately very common in our society. Anyone who pretends that divorce doesn’t negatively effect children is simply not right in their thinking. I was very fortunate to have the constant love from my Mom (who endured so much during this trial) and my grandparents. But I learned that no matter how wonderful these relationships were, the best place for my heart was, and always will be with our Lord.
Here are a few things about our Father God that I want to share with you:
God loves you!
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (1 John 3:16-18)
You never have to fear that He will ever leave you:
“…God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence,“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6)
He truly values you.
King David praised Him and then said, “LORD, what are human beings that you care for them, mere mortals that you think of them?” (Psalm 144:3)
He has loved you longer than any human could:
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:13-14)
God has called you to be one of His children:
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1)
He even allowed His precious Son to die for us, so we can be together in heaven.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Our Father is the Creator of integrity.
“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)
You can trust in His promises:
“As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what He promised us – eternal life.” (1 John 24-25)
Even in His perfection, He hopes we will make the right choice in serving Him:
“The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some consider slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
He is always with you.
“If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalm 139:9-10)
Just as I found comfort at the feet of my grandparents, and my own daughters now find comfort in my arms, I have found my true haven in the Lord. His love, value in His creation, and integrity combine to provide rest for my soul here on earth. Trials may come and go, but He will never leave my side, and I have lived a very happy life in Him, and because of Him.
Let’s make our goal this week to let our eyes smile upon those we come in contact with, so they too can feel genuinely valued by the Lord. You never know whose heart you might begin to heal by building them up with God’s love and encouragament. What an amazing God He is, to love us more than we can imagine? I can’t think of anything more beautiful or worth sharing than that.