More of Him in those empty places

Maybe it’s the end of the season, taking down the Christmas memories.

Maybe it’s my brother Tim’s rejection, dismissing the eight months he lived with us as “the year I wasted.”

Maybe that rejection reconnected me to all the rejections back through my life. The public “dis-membering” by the new administration of the church where I raised my children, the church where Jerry and I were married. The choir’s dismissal of us as “unworthy of singing praises to God” because we were openly exposing the church’s abuses of members and money.

The cousin I discovered on Facebook (one of the only two extended family members I have ever had), who was as thrilled as I was to find family online–and then was offended by something I (carefully, prayerfully) wrote and told me not only to stop communicating with her but to stop even reading her blog.

My parents and both brothers when I came to Christ as a suicidal teenager. “Keep your mind open,” Tim and Ted told me. When I described the joy and peace I’d found in Him my mother demanded, “Are you saying I’m not a Christian? I’ve read the Bible!” and she got up and walked out. My dad said, “I could have been a good father to you if you hadn’t chosen God for your Father.”

My first boyfriend who left for Julliard and after six weeks’ silence wrote to say he’d found somebody new, adding as if it would make me feel better, “She reminds me of you.”

My best friend from childhood, who rejected me because my father molested her. I tried to tell her, “We’re on the same side. He molested me too!” But she returned my letters with “Refused” across the front of the envelope.

Maybe it’s the weather. Or too much sugar.

In any case, I identified with my friend Diana when she emailed me recently, “This morning I got up and it was like I saw a cloud of depression coming right at me. I’ve been batting it away all day. I’ve decided it’s homesickness, the reaction of being in an imperfect world where we don’t belong. I’m sorry you’re feeling homesick too.”

I understand depression. I’ve been stuck in it much of my life. But I argued, “In my case it’s not so much homesickness as remembering rejections and betrayals. All I can think is, It must be me! I must be causing it. My occasional Skype counselor would say, ‘Are you willing to let Jesus tell you the truth?’ Sometimes I’m not.”

Diana persisted, “I do think it’s ‘homesickness’ because churches and families are NOT what they are supposed to be, and we feel that. We miss what we know it should be even if it’s what we’ve never known.

“Having said that, when we left our [church] it was like a death, even knowing we were doing the right thing did not alleviate that. The grieving process was long and painful. There were times I hurt so much I would cry and beg God to just take me home. It was so painful.

“In many ways it’s worse than death because the loss of people we grieve aren’t gone only the relationships are and it feels so much like you just never mattered, that you feel this huge hole and you feel the loss and the rejection and their lives seemingly continue as usual unscathed, and sometimes when they have perpetrated the harm it feels so crazy unfair– we do nothing wrong and yet we suffer all the loss and consequences at the expense of the sins of others…

“Something only Christ can fully understand. And I say that knowing that it wreaks of cold comfort in the moment of pain, but as someone who is finally finding some of the light at the other end of that tunnel that comfort will grow warmer and deeper. And it’s not as though my losses have been restored to me, there is still grief, still sadness, still loneliness but there is also a deeper understanding of God’s goodness, faithfulness and comfort. I’ve lost a LOT, but at the end of the day, there’s more of Him in those empty places. I can love people with less expectation now, less condition. It’s open handed, and the connection in that is still lacking in that in many ways, but Christ is not. And that is my encouragement to you, Christ is not lacking, He has not, nor will He ever reject you. You are not rejected, the Lord had just made more space in your heart for Him. He will fill all the empty places. In Jesus name.”

I mulled over Diana’s words and realized, That’s exactly what it is. I’m homesick for the world where there will be no more loss or pain or misunderstanding, where relationships will be unbroken.

She added, “I promise, God is already filling the empty spaces, you just don’t feel it yet, but you will.  And what fills the places that were drained will be better and stronger. And you and your relationship with the Lord will be stronger because of it.”

Then, “More cliche, but your brother isn’t your enemy. The enemy is the god of this world (little g) who is robbing your brother of his clarity, peace and sharpness of mind. The confusion and paranoia on his part is not of God. And as I recall, he’s not a believer which unfortunately means you are the only one who has the capacity to invite the Holy Spirit into the circumstance, not to mention the only one God can use to make a difference. You also need to remember who the real ‘accuser’ is, all the attacks and lies accusing you of not loving, not serving, not being good enough, godly enough, loving enough– the tone and words reveal whose voice is behind them. They are not truth.

“God’s grace is sufficient, His power made perfect in weakness. He fills those empty places too.”

Sometimes He fills those empty places with verbal hugs and wise reminders from friends like Diana!


About Jessica Renshaw
This entry was posted in Alzheimer's, answers to prayer, child abuse, church, family, friends, Helping others, Jesus Christ, music, My brother Ted, My brother Tim, peace, Perfection, spiritual warfare. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to More of Him in those empty places

  1. High K says:

    Dear Jessica, I have caught up on some of your blog. I got behind on teh week Russ was off and David was in town. Meals and leftovers and elderly relatives. Last year, God convicted me about “control issues” I was stressed and burdened because I was trying to live 5 lives, not just mine. This year, it is about Trust. I don’t trust God because I have been abandoned and let down by all the people in my life at one time or another. My boys say they have emotional distance issues because of that same trust and loss syndrome that military or frequent movers have. You get close to a friend and they move away and forget you. Or you move away and they forget you. It becomes easier to build a fortress around the heart so that you don’t get hurt. The fact that they remember the pain and hurt proves that they are more in touch with their emotions that they claim(as men) I left my keys at a church downtown New Years Eve. My first trust test, where God showed me that He was reliable and cared. Yesterday I was let down by a close friend. I decided not to dwell on that and give her grace. My first stepping out in trust. It is going to be a long year/process. The Tim Saga has been interesting. Don’t be discouraged. It sounds like letting Ted handle Tim is a good solution. I now how difficult this hands off approach is, but keep at it. You have pen pals who are rooting for you–As well as a cloud of witnesses(Hebrews) Think of this as an “iron man” race. Blessings for today. Malissa

  2. Your words and friendship are precious to me, Malissa.

    Will you be at Oxbridge this year–or at the Kilns any time?

    On Wed, Jan 8, 2014 at 7:03 AM, hiddeninjesus

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