From Belonging: Finding the Way Back to One Another

Before the summer earthquake in my story, I believed a relationship with my daughter was too painful and too hard. I didn’t know that the heartache and the challenges were grace to show me the way back to the One who loved me, despite the pain and challenges of me, so that I could love others. The way back is filled with potholes and danger and inexplicable pain. It is populated with characters we’d just as soon write out of the story. The Way back is the One whose name is The Way (John 14:6)—the One who was alienated, misunderstood, judged, condemned, and crucified for us. His body was broken and blood shed to pay for the violation of his law in the Garden and to ratify his new and eternal covenant of grace. He chooses to be bound to us by his own eternal nature of adamant love. God’s love also binds us all together in a covenant (Ephesians 5:21), and Jesus shows us the soul-shaking way back to finding one another.

The way back reminds me of a familiar childhood story. Let’s read it again, thinking about our way back to becoming real:

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, as they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, just before Nana came in to tidy up the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real, you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real, you can’t be ugly except to people who don’t understand.” [i]

The Way back is the love of God, the heart of God, the Son of God—Jesus, “loose in the joints and kind of shabby”(Psalm 22:14), crucified for the love of us. God uses painful, difficult relationships to make us real, in the image of Christ, to help us find the way back to one another.

 

 

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