When Love Hurts

Today has been an interesting day. It started out in a county courthouse and ended in another county’s courthouse. Little did I know when I woke up the way I would feel at 9:00 pm as I write this.

Let me be clear, this day was a lot harder for some other people that I love dearly but I hurt right now, too. I’m thankful for a couple of guys that I have been able to be honest with today. (You know who you are!)

For those who know my story, you know I am a pastor. I started out in ministry, straight out of college, as Josh’s youth pastor. Now, he wasn’t the only kid in the youth group but I got to journey through middle school and high school with him.

My wife and I had no kids of our own when we moved but we had three along the way, not to mention a whole host of kids who became our kids along the way.

Some of our “kids” can be found in Florida, Michigan, Texas, Missouri, Indiana, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and a few others I’m overlooking. Many of these “kids” of ours have kids of their own. I guess you could say, I’m a “grandpa.”

I’ve known something about myself that was highlighted today. I love my “kids.”

I’m proud of them.

I rejoice with them.

I get excited with them.

I love seeing them tackle life and come out victorious. I follow them even when most don’t know I’m doing it.

However, I also hurt with them.

My heart breaks with them.

I get mad at the decisions they make that lead them down a path they were never created to journey down. I’m sad with them when the brokenness of our humanity wreaks havoc in their life. I shed tears with them and over them. I want more for them. I want to fix their problems. I don’t want them to have to suffer.

This was my day…

I may wish that I could fix it all, but that is not my privilege. Every dad comes to the place where he realizes that his “kids” are grown up. They can’t be sheltered. They make poor decisions from time to time. I want to rewind the clock for them. But, like every dad knows, sometimes, the only thing I can do is just be there for them and hold them tight, pray for them and pray with them, be transparent with them, and walk the road … wherever that leads them.

Two of my “kids” are living through something that I don’t even know how to adequately describe to you.

My heart broke today.

My stomach churned today.

My mind hurt today.

And I keep asking, “Why?”

One of them I couldn’t talk to today. I didn’t have access. A letter will be written sometime in the next day or so once I figure out what in the world I should say.

The other, I got to hold as she cried.

Both of them, I love. And that is why it hurts so much.

Someone once told me, when I left that first youth group, that I needed to move on, cut ties and leave the people I had been present with for six years behind.

I didn’t follow their advice. I thought it was terrible advice at the time and I still do. At the time, I wrote it off to my naivety but thirteen years later, I still think it is horrible advice.

When we choose to be fully present with those in our lives, cutting ties become quite impossible. A part of us and a part of them becomes inextricably connected. It will hurt at times. It will feel good at times and it will cost us every time. But this is what and who we are called to be … and the cost … is worth every penny!

Pray for my “kids.” They need it. While you are at it, pray for a “dad” who has a heavy heart for his “kids.”

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