Krabbe…It’s a Name not an Attitude!

8:18 pm. January 19th. I read the text and then read it again. And again.

Does this say what I think it says? Time may be very short? What?

I can’t breathe.

And then I just sat there. For maybe 10 or 15 more minutes. I just sat there. It’s like I couldn’t feel anything at all for those minutes. I thought, for a split second, that it wouldn’t overtake me. But eventually, it did. And I nearly ran. I was at a birthday party and bumbled and mumbled through my goodbyes with only a brief explanation.

And no one there, at that moment, really knew who you were.

Thinking about that silly little fact now, I find such injustice in that. It’s silly that it bothers me, but it does. It’s impossible for anyone to know EVERYONE….but EVERYONE should know YOU….REALLY KNOW you. And everyone should know your family too….because if they don’t know them, they don’t know you.

They should know the birthday parties you threw for your wife. They should know about the cheesecakes you made for her and her friends for one of those birthdays. They should know the fathers heart you’ve always have had for my children, and especially for my Mags when she has struggled. They should know how, for years , you were the “kid whisperer” at church and in Sunday school. They should know about that time you hid in the back of my suburban and scared the tar out of me when I drove out of your driveway….so many laughs! They should know your love of crossfit and mountain biking and cooking with your wife. They should know how you love and inspire your employees. Your friends. Your people. You have so many people my friend. But not all of the people. I wish everyone knew you. Really knew you. Because their life would be better if they did.

You see, my friend, you are one of those people who knows how to Love well. There aren’t many of them around these days. Oh they’re around, they’re just not you. You have loved one of my dearest and oldest friends so very well. You always put her first. You showed the world that she’s the top priority in you life right after God. You’ve always supported her heart and her dreams. You’ve shown your children what it means to love well and to require the same in their own relationships. You see, those kids of yours? They don’t accept anything less because of you. I don’t know if they’d even know how. You did that. You let God lead….and you and your wife did that.

You have been a gift to me in so many tiny little ways that I don’t even know how to describe. Just your way of “being” has been encouraging to me. I’ve never seen you walk in offense towards anyone, even if it was deserved by the worlds standards. I’ve never heard you speak ill of anyone. I’ve never known you to be harsh. And I saw you love Jesus. What more could one even hope to be?

I don’t know if you will ever read this because I don’t know what God’s plan for you is. I just know that you have lived your life so well. Yes, you have a successful business and those kinds of things…but for this friend, what you have done with your LIFE and the way you have LIVED is the story that needs to be told.

You are forever “Krabbe….it’s a name not an attitude,” to me.

I love you Gary.

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Let me be clear for a moment…

I did not want to get divorced.  I don’t want to be divorced.  I love the man who was my husband….I just can’t be with him.  I came to a place in my life where I realized that I was compromising my relationship with the Lord, and devaluing myself in an attempt to make someone else comfortable.  It sounds so simple. It’s not. It would be easy to just point my finger at him for all the ways I felt he failed me but I am not without defect. Not. At. All.

Divorce hurts more than I could ever fathom.  I never imagined that this is where my life would be right now.  I had dreams….ideas of how we would grow old together…..kids out in the world and doing their own thing…finally on our own.  But somewhere in the mess, the trauma of life events, the loneliness of living alone for nine or ten months a year, I forgot that I was married to a good man.  I think he forgot that too.  And I also think he forgot he was married to a good woman.  Things go off kilter when you believe things that are outside of who God says you are. We both did it.  It just showed up in different ways for each of us.

I grew up in a house where in conflict, there was no conversation allowed.  Any attempt at conversation was viewed as argument.  As an adult, looking back, I understand that approach to some degree.  However,  I am (very much) a verbal processor.  When there is conflict but you are never allowed to sort out feelings and thoughts outside of your head, you learn that you have no voice.  You believe that you have no value because no one listens to your thoughts, feelings, ideas.  You learn that who you are is not okay.  You learn that there is something wrong with you because you can’t sort yourself out inside of your head like “normal” people.  Please hear me.  My parents taught me so many good things.  This is only one little piece of a growing up that was otherwise really, really good. They believed in me and loved me.  I harbor no bitterness towards them at all.  It is part of how that generation parented.  I understand that every parent does the best they can with what they have at the time.  And they did….they so much did!

But then, I married a man who did not know how to nurture a verbal processor either. So everything I had come to believe, was in fact, complete truth to me. “There is something wrong with me because I need to talk to sort out my thoughts and feelings.  I have no value because I cannot be like the people who are supposed to love me.”  You must understand….this is never a conscious thought.  It is a belief that becomes part of your DNA because of your experience in life.  Only recently have I realized that this had been concreted into my very bones.

I cannot blame anyone.  They were all doing the best they knew how.  They just didn’t get me.  Or really know me.  If you never get to the point where you can articulate clearly, what is inside of you, you cannot be known.  So as much as I wanted to be known, I could not because I believed I had no voice.  So there was no voice to use.  I was unable to communicate through conflict in any clear way.  Everything came out of me in highly emotional, hysterical ways.  There is no understanding that.  I don’t believe for one moment that anyone was truly wanting to devalue me. I was just foreign soil to them and they didn’t know how to speak my language.

So here, on the other side of this realization, I am attempting to walk away from the belief that I hold no value….that who I am is not okay.  Those are lies.  Yet I believed them.  Unfortunately, they were lies that the enemy continued to confirm for many years, through people that I loved….so it must be true, right? Oh how insidious he is.

Even as I sit here writing this, I cannot stop the tears. I am almost 44 years old and have never truly believed in my gut that I have any value as a person, a human, a woman.  I have believed that how I feel is inconsequential to those who love me. That the thoughts and ideas that I have aren’t worth really looking at. I have learned that my pain is irrelevant because of my defects…if I was normal,  it would matter to someone, right? It would matter enough for them to stop for a moment. And try to learn me. Do you see what has happened? Do you see how it has permeated every part of me?

Don’t feel sorry for me and please don’t hear this as a pity party. It’s not. At all. It’s realization. It’s revelation from the Father. It is turning away from lies and moving into who He says I am. It is walking into my value as a daughter, a woman, a human.

I cannot have victory if I do not acknowledge the truth. It’s ugly. It’s dirty. It’s messy. But it’s the truth. I don’t want to live there anymore. I refuse to live there anymore.

Divorce is my worst nightmare come true. I don’t know how long it will take me to stop feeling like I’m living in an alternate reality. No one died but it feels like death. It is so very painful. I just have to keep telling myself what I know to be the truth, even though I don’t feel it yet…God has a plan. What is important to me is important to Him. My pain is His pain. I am not alone. I am not too broken to have value. Who I am is not just okay, it’s amazing….because He made me.  If I speak it enough, I will begin to feel it. It will come. I just have to feel what is here right now in order to heal what is wounded. I must feel it in order to be free…..

To My Husband…on the Day We Got Divorced

I’m sorry that you could not love yourself enough to love me. 

I’m sorry that you could not choose the healing for yourself that I was choosing for my own self.  It would have brought you freedom and it could have saved our marriage. 

I’m sorry that I was an embarrassment to you, because that loud voice and vivid personality are so much of what make me a treasure.

I’m  sorry that you could not see me as that treasure. I was worth the effort. 

I’m sorry that I thought I could fix you. Only God can do that. 

I’m sorry that I found my own value before you did…because I am worth more than gold or rubies. 

I’m sorry that my contribution to our life was not enough for you. Because it was for me. 

I’m sorry that you never learned how to enjoy my passions as much as I learned to enjoy yours. I never liked coffee or dirt bikes or Led Zeppelin until I married you.

I’m sorry that you could not forgive me for the messes I made in our life, because there were plenty. You just couldn’t. 

I’m sorry you never learned to forgive yourself. 

I’m sorry that you never learned to drop everything just because I needed you. 

I’m sorry that you wouldn’t fight for me. You missed out on a beautiful woman. I’m a million times more amazing now, than when you married me. 

I’m sorry that all of these things I say are more about how you see yourself than how you really see me. 

I’m sorry that you could not see yourself the way I see you…because you are a good, good man….you just don’t really believe it.  There in lies the problem…

I’m sorry that you could not accept the love I had  to give you.  It would have been worth it. 

I’m not sorry I fought for you.  You are worth it. 

I’m not sorry that it took me so long to let go. You are worth that too. 

I’m not sorry that I love you. 

I just can’t be with you. 

I just had to choose to love myself this time….

This Beautiful Disaster….

I don’t even know where to start….I’m not sure if I should even be writing about this right now, but it is what I do.  It is how I wade through.  It is my voice and I need to speak. But now I sit here, with my fingers on these computer keys, and everything that was rolling around in my head has screeched to a halt.  I don’t know even know how to start talking about what is on my heart….I will try.

It is the middle of the night and I just woke up from a dead sleep, wide awake, brain already in overdrive before I even realized I was coming out of the stupor of sleep.

How do even begin to spit this out?

How do I start this conversation with you?

How do I breach the uncomfortable awkwardness of the elephant in the living room?

I don’t know.

So I will just rip the blanket off and speak of this beautiful disaster….

My child has been arrested for attempted murder.

. . . . .

. . . . .

Please know that I am fully aware of how emotionally unsafe this conversation may make me.  In talking about this, I know that I am potentially opening myself up to all kinds of opinions of my daughter, myself, my family.  It’s a small town.  I get it.  Things like this don’t happen here.  I know the judgement will come.  It’s already here.  But what I know is that there is nothing that anyone can think or say about me that I have not already thought of myself. I understand. Believe me.

I have thought so many times that my failure as a mother is what allowed my girl to walk into the world she walked into.  It is not.  What allowed her to walk into this darkness was her.  It took years but she got here because of her.  Over time, she made choices.  She thought things, and fed those thoughts, and allowed others to feed them.  And the more she thought them, the more she became part of the darkness she dwelt on.  She began to make choices.  And those choices, over and over again, led her to where she is right now.  I did not make even ONE of those choices for her.  In fact, I fought those choices with everything in me.  I fought them with my words, my emotions, my prayers.  I was unsuccessful.  The failure is not mine as a mother.  I refuse to own that.  We must all own our own choices, even if culture tells us that it’s got to be someone else’s fault.

But there is something so much deeper than these thoughts and opinions that I need to talk about with you, things I need to tell you.

Whatever you know about this situation may or may not be true, but even that is not my point in this moment.

Because what you see, what you know, is not the real story.

This story is about love.

The love of a mother.

The love of a God who saved that mother.

This mother.

He saved this mother from her herself, her demons, her own pain and destruction.

Over and over again.

And I know that just as He has saved me, He will save my daughter.  Probably not from her own consequences, and that is a good thing….but He can save my daughter from herself, her demons, her own pain and self destruction, just as He did me.  Maybe it sounds like I’m talking about this fantasy pie in the sky that you hear about in other peoples stories, but I promise you, I’m not.  He has already saved her, she just doesn’t know it yet.  He saved her life.  He saved the lives of those in her story.  Literally.  He is real.

But this story is about so much more than what one girl did on a Wednesday afternoon in May.  It is also an acknowledgment of the pain that has been inflicted on the people in my daughters story.  It is a recognition of the impact that this has on my community.

Whatever the details of this case as it moves forward, whatever words and opinions are laid before me, my daughter, my family….whatever happens…I will not be offended by you.  Whether I agree with you or not, I will not argue with you.  I will not entertain the voice in my head, that says that this is my fault.

Because you see, this story is about love.

The love of a mother.

The love of a God who saved that mother.

This mother.

And this mother loves you.

I love my community.

I love this place I call home.

As the only one in this story that can talk to you right now, I must tell you that I am so deeply affected by what has happened.  Please know that this is not trivial to me.  I do not take it lightly.  But please understand, also, that I love my daughter.  However, I will never ask that that love be a reason for lack of consequences.  That love is why, whatever the court decides, when the time comes, I will accept.  Because love without accountability is not love.  It is something else entirely.

I serve a God who redeems.  He saves the deepest and darkest people.  I have seen it over and over again.  He saves the mother and the drug addict.  The doctor and the murderer.  The best and the worst.  He does not care what you do, He will save you anyway.  He will love you anyway.  All that is needed is a yes.  He will save my daughter.  She need only say yes.

So, with a humble heart and an understanding of the thoughts and opinions of this story, may I still be so bold as to ask something of you?  Regardless of how you feel about me or my daughter, would you pray for us?  As my community, would you pray for her?  Because wouldn’t it be better for all of us if she was redeemed?  Would it not be the miracle that we all hope for but are so often to scared to ask for?

Maybe in praying for her, you will find that it’s okay to ask for your own miracle.

Maybe in praying for someone you dislike, you find a kindness and compassion in yourself that is more powerful than you ever knew.

Maybe in praying for a broken girl, your own broken pieces, start to be put back in place.

Maybe in praying for someone you despise, you see a new and beautiful side to the hard people in your own life.

And maybe in praying for this beautiful disaster we will all find our own redemption.

All I know is that my mama’s heart is busted.  Open.  Wide.  I grieve for the road my daughter is going to have to walk.  I grieve over those she has hurt.  The pain of this is like fire.  It burns.  I feel it physically.  I am not immune to the reality that has been thrust upon me.  Upon all of us.  But I know one thing for sure.  This pain is not wasted.  My pain.  Miley’s pain.  Your pain.  It is not for nothing.  So I will be the first.  I will say yes first.  I will allow it to break me open and break me through.  Into hope.  And life.  And love.

Whatever the choice, none of us will ever be the same again…..

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Leaving…

I left.

I moved out.

I never thought I would be saying these words.

I would have staked my life on it.

I’m not going to share details but I came up to a wall and was not breaking through. In times past, when I hit these walls,  I could get in the “tower” and be able to re-engage to where I knew God was calling me to walk.  This time was different.

Completely different.

I was confused, angry, foggy. And the effort to push through felt like slogging through thick, concrete-like mud. It wasn’t happening. At all.

And then I was asked a question.

“Is it possible that God is releasing you?”

I didn’t want to hear it.

I was actually a little bit mad that she would ask the question.

But then she asked another.

And another.

The thing is, I knew I was in this until I died.  Seriously.  I’m not joking.  I had said it over and over again. I believed it. With everything in me. I believed that there was only one way that this was going to be resolved. My marriage was going to be restored. Period.  No question in my mind.  I tattooed my body with my wedding date for heavens sake.  Of course God was going to do it my way!

And then I hit the wall.  And I couldn’t push through.  No amount of praying or asking God to help me was helping me re-engage.

So I set a fleece before the Lord.  Two, in fact.

The first being a place to live.

And he provided it within 24 hours of that prayer.

And the second, he provided within 3 days.

With an abundance that has completely BLOWN. MY. MIND.

And so I moved out.

On my own.

For the first time in my life.

For a fleeting moment, I thought the last 2 1/2 years was for nothing.  In my emotions, it feels totally wasted…..but with God, I know it is nowhere near that.  I know that I did everything the Lord asked me to do.

I don’t regret staying…..

And I don’t regret leaving…..

The things that I have learned in this last season have changed me forever.  I have grown deeper, in ways I never thought possible.  I have shown my children what it means to stand on the love of God.  I have learned that I am an authentic, powerful woman.  I have seen that God has a high calling on my life.  I now know that I have value before the Lord.  I have realized that my life can affect and change the generations that will come after me.  And most of all, I have come to know that God truly is, always, always good.

I fear that some of you may feel betrayed….that I didn’t follow through. That I quit.  That I’m disobeying what God said.  I also feel as if I have disappointed you or made you feel mislead in some way by walking away.  I know so many of you have hoped and wished and prayed your hearts out right along with me. But please do not be disillusioned.  God is NOT done yet.

I wish I could give you a picture into what God said and how He spoke to me.  I don’t know how to do that yet.  I can only say that I truly do believe, that the only way I could have endured the last 2 1/2 years, was to be utterly convinced that God would resolve this the way that I had pictured.  That picture is what kept me going.  It kept me pursuing him.  It drove me deeper into His Word and His heart.  It’s what has changed me forever. What I do know, is that God made it abundantly clear that this season in my life is over….and staying, when He has lifted His grace from the situation, is asking for more pain and suffering….only without His covering over me.  I can’t do that. I won’t.

And so who can know the ways of God?

In my very real, human emotions, I feel as if I will never understand any of this.  Maybe I won’t.  But I can’t stay in that.  I have to let God heal me and move forward in my life.  I think part of the last 2 1/2 years has been processing through the grief and pain of this.  And so, I do, in many respects feel so much relief.  Relief that this part is over.

The waiting is over…

Living in limbo is over…

Daily disappointment is over…

Hope deferred is over…

My dark night of the soul is over.


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The Truth about Bitterness

Today, bitterness is nipping at my heels.  I am trying hard to outrun it, but it is like a lion on the tail of a deer.

Relentless.

So here is where I come.  To expel the thoughts that threaten to consume me…

Three years ago I was looking at being an empty-nester.  At being a mom who had raised her children.  At finally being able to explore a life with just my husband….you see, I already had a child when we married, so we had never been “just the two of us.”  I had dreams.  Ideas.  Expectations.

And then it changed.

And now I feel like I was set up.  This feeling comes and goes.  I long to be rid of it.

It took me awhile to wrap my head around the idea of raising another child.  I had such defined hopes for the future.  Taking another path came completely out of the blue.  But soon I realized how important it was to my husband to take on raising our grandbaby.

So I asked God to help me wrap myself around it.

I asked him to help me find a way to give what my selfishness did not want to give.

And He did.

And I was in….with everything in me.

I fed.  I loved.  I nurtured.  I prayed over that little boy as I sat with him in that rocking chair, deep in my own grief and pain.  I asked God to cover him.  To bless his little life.  To make him a light.  To help me raise him to be a tender, faithful warrior.  I invested everything I could find to give. I battled the voice of death over both of our lives.  And I won.  God won.

And then he was gone.

Just like that.

My mind, my flesh, my life experience tells me that I was “set up.”  Why would I struggle so hard to come to terms with raising another child, only to have him ripped away after going all in?

I’ve come far enough with the Lord to understand that there is always meaning behind pain….that none of this agony is ever wasted…but this one has left me grasping for that peace that I had found.  I know that grief and peace can exist together because I have known it, but right now, my battle is keeping bitterness at bay.  And that is hard.

And I grieve.

He was not my son, but he was the son of my heart.  I feel like I have lost a child.  I do not mean to minimize any mother who has ever lost a child…please do not hear that from me. I can only give you my own story, my own emotion, my own perspective.

One moment I want all his things where I can see them, smell them, touch them.  The next
moment I cannot bear the chasm that opens in my chest when I see a 2 year old in a restaurant or a toddler throwing a fit in the grocery store.  I’ve had to leave the grocery store because I could not bear the sound of a crying child.  Sometimes I want to peak around the corner of an isle and see a sweet little face and offer comfort and sometimes I want to get as far away as I can, as fast as possible. Blonde hair and blue eyes are the end of me.

I feel like he will be forever frozen in time.  I
took pictures and videos of him obsessively and now they come up in my photo memories daily. I still see him and get an occasional picture, but it is not the same.  It is not me taking the picture, experiencing the new things with him or hearing the new words he says. I will not be the one he has his first conversation with.

It is a conflicted world I am living in now.  I am so happy that he has a family that loves him more and more every day.  I had such fear when he was first taken away, but I have learned that there is no need to be afraid.  I love that his daddy is there to teach him and play with him and see him grow and change.  What a gift he is for Asher.

Then there are the days when the feeling of betrayal is raw and heavy and bitter. When those who are supposed to love you the most, hurt you the most, there is a road that must be walked….and I am walking it.  I am not there yet.  One day I miss the daughter I dreamed of having…..she has a birthday coming up and my sister and I had talked months ago about ways to surprise her.  But the very next day, the thought of seeing her makes me want to run.  She has hurt me deeply.  Some days I wonder if I will ever be able to think only of the good things and not all of the hurtful things…but just like every other hurt that has come my way, I must find my way through this one.  And I WILL find my way through, because I refuse to become a bitter old woman who lives in a past of hurt and betrayal.

I will not let anyone else write my story for me.  I decided that a long time ago.  Things may happen to me, people may hurt me, but I decide how the story goes from there.  The truth about bitterness, is that I can choose it or not.  Right now, I’m battling it….but it will not win.

I have to do the work to get the win.

And I will win.

Because mercy triumphs over judgement.

And I will rise.

Always.

 

Suffering

I am experiencing something completely powerful and amazing, wild and mind-bending! It is completely shifting my belief system.  This thing has gripped me and I am going to attempt to share it with you now.  So I pray for every person reading this….that the eyes of your heart would be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he has called (Eph 1:18).  Because He has called us all.  Here goes….

How many of us have ever thought or said, “I just want to be more like Jesus?”  I know I have.  A Lot.  For years now, I have prayed that the Lord would help me do this “be like Jesus” thing.  I have literally prayed, “Whatever it takes God!”  And let me tell you, this is a dangerous, dangerous prayer….because He will answer it….in spades.  And it will rock your world.  In powerful and painful ways.

So what does being more like Jesus look like?

Is it telling thought-provoking stories or performing miracles? Is it being more tenderhearted or truthful?  Is it mentoring people and showing great love to those who are difficult to love?  Is it suffering as he suffered?

Boom.  There’s the bomb.

Suffering.

Let that sink in a minute.

Suffering.

How many of us have said, “I don’t believe that God would have me live this way,” when we are faced with mistreatment, injustice, or great pain that causes great suffering?  Have we said this when a spouse betrays us, a child wanders far away from what they have been taught or a friend turns out to not be a friend at all?   And in believing that “God would not have me live this way,” do we reject those people?  Do we throw them away because they aren’t loving us unconditionally? Let me ask you this….are you loving them unconditionally?  No.  Probably not.

What if I was to tell you that I believe we, the church, have had it all wrong?

Would I offend you?

Would you immediately dismiss me and walk away?

I understand if you must move on, but I wish you would stay.  There may be something here that changes your whole life.

This theme of suffering has been running through my life for more years than I ever would have imagined it could, as a fresh-faced 19 year old.  You see, I look back and I realize how good I had it, how very little hard stuff I had to endure as a kid and a teenager.   But then school was over.  I didn’t see it at the time, but I started down a road that would turn into a journey, and that journey has forever altered everything I believe about God.

I have suffered.  A lot.  Most of you know that.  If I wrote a list, those of you who don’t know me, probably wouldn’t believe me.  I’m pretty much a laundry list of Murphy’s Law. But it’s not Murphy’s Law.  Not by a long shot.

How many of you know the story of Hosea?  Esther?  Joshua?  Daniel?  Mary? Paul?  The disciples?

You see, God told Hosea to marry a prostitute and she betrayed him…over and over again. Esther was brought into the harem of a king…she was chosen for her looks, not for who she was.  Joshua was sold into slavery by his brothers.  Daniel was taken away to Babylon. Mary was chosen to be the unwed mother of Jesus.  Joseph had to wrap himself around marrying a woman who was pregnant with a baby who was not his.  Paul, who was first Saul, endured endless suffering as he was struck blind by God and then as a lonely, persecuted, homeless apostle of Jesus.  And the disciples?  All but one was martyred.  But the real question is, How did those stories end?  They all became intimate friends of God because they chose to embrace the suffering.

So let me ask the question again.  Do we really believe that “God would not have me live this way?”  If growing deeper with Jesus really didn’t require suffering, then why did nearly every person that is highlighted in the Bible suffer?  And why did God literally ask many to do things that He knew would bring suffering?

Paul says it.  I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! (Philippians 3:10-11)  I am coming to believe and understand that suffering truly is a gift, a great gift.  Not a curse.

Through suffering, I become a friend of Jesus.

Let me explain.

In a friendship, the more you can relate to the other person, the deeper your relationship can grow.  When you understand, through experience, another’s road, the more intimate you become.  Jesus suffered in a way that we cannot imagine when he was brutalized and broken on the cross. If we begin to embrace suffering, even in the smallest of ways, we begin to see and experience Him through a different lens.  We begin the journey of relating, and we grow in friendship.  Jesus crawled up on a cross to die.  He didn’t want to, but he did.  He crawled up on that cross and endured that horrific suffering because his Father asked him to.  If I truly want to “be more like Jesus,” shouldn’t I be doingimg_0364 the same? Should I not offer myself up to suffering as He did, so that I can be more like Him, as I have said I want?

If I reject my own suffering, as if it is a curse, I am rejecting the very essence of who Jesus is.

I cannot be friends with one I reject.

Here is the paradigm shift…

If suffering has overtaken your life, you now have a choice. You can look at this pain, this dark night of the soul, as something that you must hold your breath and grit your teeth to make it through, or you can recognize that the God of the universe, who holds all things in his hands, who loves you beyond what you can fathom, wants to be your friend.  He wants you with Him in the end.  This is who He is.  Will you be a friend of the Bridegroom?

Will you be a friend of the Bridegroom?