The initial email she sent me read:
My Mom lost two of her three children and my Dad in a tragic car accident when I was 11. My Mom & I were also critically injured. My brother was 9, my sister was two, and my Dad only 33. I am now 53, so that was a long time ago, but the pain is always present.
My Mom is the strongest woman that I know. Never once have I heard her utter any anger toward her God. I would love to have a purse with her children's pictures on it, and the Fruit of the Spirit on it. She is the epitome of a Godly woman.
The photos of those precious children sat on my desk for weeks. Everyday, I'd look at them. I asked for advice on the scrapbooking message board I'm a part of. I talked about it with local friends. I prayed about it. And yet, I was afraid of the task.
Lesson three in Beth Moore's study was about love. I wasn't feeling particularly lovely that night and I didn't want to go. (Remember several weeks ago when my blog became very dark and dreary?) I knew that not wanting to partake in a study about the most commanded action in all the Bible probably meant that I NEEDED to go. And boy did I! It wasn't a lesson that was all lovey-dovey and sweet. On the contrary, it was pretty stinkin' depressing. Because Beth talked about what all women are way too familiar with: rejection. "God is calling our hearts to remain warm and exposed, pulsating with fresh life. This is scary, because by being called to love, we risk rejection." Oh, how that rang in my ears and brought tears to my eyes. How could she have known, all those months before when she taped the series, that on the very night I would be hearing that lesson, I would be nursing a fresh rejection wound? It's true that to the extent that we have loved, that's how deep the rejection can go. Doesn't that make sense? The more you love, the deeper you hurt.
That night, after I got over myself ('cause yes, I did have quite a pity party), I thought of two people: one is a friend in California whose 11-year old son was in a horrible rock-climbing accident recently. And the other was the recipient of this purse - the Mom whose husband and children had been snatched from life so many years before. One Mom with a fresh, oozing wound, and one with an old one that still loses its scab once in a while. Neither of them faced rejection, per se, but they both bear the wounds of loving deeply and hurting profoundly. But that night, I was reminded that there is divine healing for human loss, and it's found in the sovereignty and supremacy of God. You're all familiar with the verse in First Corinthians that says "Love never fails...". The Greek transliteration of the word for "fails" is "to drop away... to fall (away, off)". That means to me that love never drops. It never goes over the cliff. Well, maybe it does, but it never lands at the bottom. It never fails. 'Cause we serve a God who loves us enough to catch us everytime. This I know.
He caught that Mom all those years ago, and He continues to catch her today. There's no other explanation for how she was able to move forward with such grace and compassion and HOPE. Love didn't fail her.
This week, I received an email from her daughter.
Oh, my goodness, my Mom & I just opened the purse! We both cried and she just rubbed and rubbed the purse like a treasured possession. It was a beautiful moment.
We were with her sisters and my cousins this weekend. She shared about a recent dream she had of my sister. Melody was playing in the yard with a sand bucket, and she was just lifted up to heaven and my Mom was calling her to come back. It was such a big deal for my Mom to share that with us. She is so quiet about her grief. Her voice broke and she cried, but there will be no tears in heaven. We are promised that!
The purse was more beautiful than I had imagined. My Mom said she will be so proud to carry it. God bless you for enabling me to give my Mom such a keepsake.
It reminded me of the most recent lesson we studied: joy. And this quote from Beth Moore, "Joy doesn't always come naturally. But I can always CHOOSE JOY."
That's what my "purse Mom" does. She chooses joy. And so will I.
So will I.