Friday, October 5, 2012

True Love

The past week or so has been wonderful... full of fun and friends and work (yes, work is good) and I've loved it.  But boy, am I happy to see today.  A whole day with no calendar appointments other than my usual at 3:30 to get my big boy from school.  I have things to do at home, which is always the case.  But there's something about not having to run around across two counties, being certain places on time. The only things I need to do on time tonight are dinner, baths, and bed.  And then it's mommy time.

I was not always so good at me time.  There was a time when insecurity reigned more than it does now.  I look back on the times I had in college when waking on a Saturday with no plans and no idea if I'd see anyone or if anyone would want to do anything with me left a stabbing, vacuous, sick feeling in my heart.  For some reason, time alone rocked me to my core.

Now I can see what it was.  I'd been raised by a father who insisted I never loved him enough.  Time was love.  Gifts were love.  And as a kid, I could never give enough.  Never enough time on the phone.  Never enough time at the holidays.  I never stayed long enough in the summer.  There was always this chasing after approval.  I had to run, perform, and never fail... and from six hours away.

He used to tell me I was perfect... the only thing (yes "thing") he ever did right.  It made me sick to my stomach to be told I was perfect then, and the thought still makes me bristle.  I'm not perfect.

Then, I didn't quite understand.  I knew Jesus was the only perfect man, and that I'm certainly not.  Now I can see where the nausea originated... I can't be perfect.  There was no margin for error.  I could not live up to his expectations.  And the sickening thing is that I was so terrified of failing that I learned that acceptance was only one perfect performance away.

But, as my dear mentor said, there is no perfect performance.

I lived unknowingly climbing an impossible slippery slope uphill until I was married and had a seven month old boy.  I loved my Daddy.  I still do.  But I could not keep running uphill.  For the first time, I had to fail when it was blatantly obvious to him that I might love someone else more than he.  The time had come when I had to let go and let someone stronger than myself step in and do what I could not.

It got weird.  He said and did things, and had my stepmother say and do things that were frightening.  For months I was afraid to open the door when someone knocked.  There was the gift of professional Christian counseling, there were tears, there were days when I thought surely I was the worst child in history.  I am still not proud of this time and the decisions we had to make.  The lines we drew to unite and protect our marriage were not welcomed.

Through tears, shaking, and apology, I said good bye.

The support system that cradled us through the whole of this taught me what love really is.  Over the past few years, I've grown to see the ways in which Daddy was being completely unreasonable.  But then, for the life of me, I could not see it.  It has taken every day of every year since that day for me to grow to realize that, while at times love is things like sacrifice and togetherness and making sure someone else knows they're loved, those things are not love itself.  I'd argue that there is not one single, all-encompassing definition of love.

But I've learned that the best kind... or my favorite kind... of love is that which loves unconditionally.

Love that forgives.

Love that lets you be who you are.

Love that does not tell you who you are, then force you through that mold.

Love gives.

Love receives.

Love withholds when the gift might destroy you.

Love would give its life for you.

Love doesn't have to impress you.

Love stands and fights for you when your legs are jello and your mouth won't move.

Love lets you disagree.

Love knows when to let go.

Love knows when to hold on.

Love shares truth.

Love does not lie; for truth is always best.

Love loves knowing that you are hopelessly flawed.

The freedom to be who we are, say we are sorry when we err, be grateful for what we have to give and are given, and the comfort of knowing that these things are ours makes the best relationships.

This morning, I kissed my favorite man in the whole world good-bye for the day.  It's Friday, and he will work in and out of town and will not return until 1:00 in the morning or after.  For years, I would get that same gnawing in my stomach as I did in college when he was gone.  But years later, I know that I love him far more and he feels far more loved when I can stand and say good bye, knowing that while he's gone we'll miss each other, but we're both free to enjoy our time apart.

We both seek to love with a love that is patient and kind, does not envy or boast, is not arrogant or rude.  A love that does not insist in its own way, that is not irritable or resentful, does not rejoice in wrongdoing, and certainly rejoices in the truth.  A love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.  We seek to love with the love Christ has for his bride.

But we can't.

"None is righteous, no, not one..." Romans 3:10

We can't see even what we need or how we are flawed until we are shown, and then we can't do anything about it ourselves.  Eric stood in the gap for me, but in a much more immense way, Christ stands in the gap for His beloved every day. 

So we return when we've failed, we apologize, we ask forgiveness, and we go and do our best. And He gives more grace.  He forgives.  He gives us peace through the word and the holy spirit.  Our Father does not fold his arms and manipulate us when we haven't opened a bible or been to church in a while.  He is, however, overjoyed to see us return when we do.  He's even interested in how much we enjoy our lives.  Guiding us through our issues, hurts, and every kind of valley we can imagine.  We are freed of forcing perfection... and all we have to do is believe, take his hand, and walk. 

Such a wonderful gift.  



  1. Beautiful, Crystal! You have such a gift with words!

  2. Very beautiful. Hits home very much for me on the maternal side of things.

  3. Dear Crystal,

    I don't think we have met in person, but I've known the Senzigs since I was little - grew up in the same church.

    Randa posted the link to your blog a couple of months ago and I've been so blessed reading about your precious family. (My dad is a High School orchestra director and I loved your description of the TMEA convention and your desire to share your love of music and band with your kids - I can completely relate!)

    Your writing is so graceful- thoughtful- poignant and honest. I find myself cheered by your victories and praying for you after you write about rough days.

    Anyway - just wanted to thank you for your writing and to let you know that I'm around.

  4. Thank you so much for all your comments! And Jean, welcome to the blog... and I might have met your Dad, actually! Seems I remember talking to him with Eric at Town North? Or do I have the right guy?

  5. If it was at Town North, then you met him. Thanks!


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