My friend stopped me in the church hallway and embraced me in a strong hug. She grasp my hand and held eye contact. “I was so sorry to hear about your mother. How are you? ”
“I’m doing well.” My mother had recently passed away after a brief but very difficult battle with Alzheimer’s.
I nodded. While I had tried to process my emotions since my mother died, I hadn’t been able to put words to how I felt; yet at that moment, when I opened my mouth, the words poured out. “The past two weeks have been surreal. By the world’s definition, I am now an orphan, yet I have never felt less alone or more loved in my life.”
My words were not an exaggeration. I had been cocooned within the steadfast love and continual comforting presence of the Lord. While I had experienced tremendous sadness and abundant tears, I was immersed in the unexplainable peace that surpasses all understanding.
I knew there was a deeper truth for me to glean. I knew I felt different, but couldn’t put my finger on exactly what had changed. For weeks, I have journaled my prayers, trying to understand what I was supposed to understand.
I thought about how I have struggled with not feeling loved my entire life. Even my last blog post was about my struggle, how Jesus had met me in the verses of Mark 9, and began to change my perception.
I thought about how, moments after I shared on social media about Mom’s passing, friends began to post words of condolence and encouragement. About how my phone rang, and before I finished with one call, another call was beeping in. My phone alerted with text after text. Emails popped in my inbox; cards arrived via snail mail each day. Friends stopped by the house and brought meals. The outreach of love and kindness sustained us for days. My friends were the hands and feet of Jesus, ministering to our broken hearts.
I thought about the powerful moment at the end of Mom’s memorial service, when Pastor asked the ladies from my Sunday connection group to surround and pray over my sister, niece and me. As their prayers were lifted heavenward, and my tears flowed freely, I felt the warmth of love radiate in the depth of my soul, consuming every cell of my being. My heart was overwhelmed in the sweetest of ways.
Yesterday, as I was looking at photos of home decor on a Facebook page, I had the thought I needed to make some little fabric hearts. I haven’t celebrated Valentine’s Day in almost three decades. I avoid anything and everything related to love. I am thankful when February 15 arrives. Yet I found myself cutting a heart out of cardstock, digging through my fabric stash, tracing the heart shape onto fabric, then stitching, stuffing and cutting.
As I looked at the heart, I understood. I knew why I felt different.
I had finally stopped listening to the lie that I had told myself, that I was not really loved. I realized I was genuinely loved by my family. I was loved by friends. I was loved by God.
And by the miraculous work of God in me, I realized I finally loved myself.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. ~ Ephesians 2:10