Last weekend my whole family crashed a home my parents rented in a destination vaguely in the middle of all our various homes. We all converged – each with our spouses and our children. The adults spread out in the many bedrooms, the children piled on top of each other summer-camp style, the little boys only left the game room to eat and swim. The little girls played house in the loft that they slept in. We stayed up really late sometimes, barely finished one meal before it was time for the next, and kept our plastic red cups lined up on the window sill with our names or initials – a pretty reminder that we were all there together and full.
We celebrated a few things – two anniversaries, my five years cancer-free, my dad’s fifth year of recovery from an addiction, plus lots and lots of children and many years of love.
And on Sunday we gathered in this room for church. And we read things from the bible and talked and maybe cried a little. Some of us cried a lot. I did, for instance, when we sang the song about God’s feelings for us that’s titled How He Loves. “He loves us, oh how he loves us.” That’s the chorus, over and over. And I couldn’t even sing it because I just cried instead.
The last time I saw the song performed, it was with cardboard testimonies. People held up cardboard with their former troubles and sadness on one side, then flipped it to their victories and happiness on the other. Things like this, for instance, from my niece. You can see what’s on the cardboard when you roll over the picture:
And as we sat in this room my mom now calls the Sanctuary, and Dan played the piano and those who know it well sang the song, I didn’t even remember that performance that had also sent me directly to The Ugly Cry with its stories of redemption. Instead I was just feeling loved. And it was only later that I thought of the cardboard testimonies we could have shared…
And then, of course, I thought of that room which for the time at least held nothing but the victory to all those things. Health, recovery, babies, love, and life. And then I really cried when I heard the words again. He loves us, oh how he loves us. I hope you can hang onto that if your cardboard looks more like trouble right now than redemption. And even if you can’t, it’s still true. And I hope you get the chance to feel it soon.