This morning, I watched Trent hurriedly gather his things for his trip to Little Rock. He had overslept, and was due to be at football practice in ten minutes. The morning was a blur; I dropped him off, came home and answered some emails, and started to tidy up around the house. I noticed that he left his football behind. I stopped and stared at it for a minute. He wants to be a football star. He wants to be the boy that runs in the game winning touchdown. I smile when I think about his aspirations. Then reality sinks in.
When he tears down the field and makes that score... there will be no daddy in the stands cheering. When Justin walks across the stage to collect his high school diploma, there will be no daddy in the audience applauding. Lauren looks for the shining example of what a husband should be... she doesn't find it here. Brendan searches for what it means and looks like to be a man, and for guidance and encouragement that only another male can provide... and it isn't here. What they did have, is now living a whole state away, having traded the sacred for the profane. Chasing other loves, leaving an empty seat in the stands, and holes in many bewildered little hearts.
I weep bitter, painful tears over this. My heart is in pieces, and adding insult to injury, he calls me from her phone, unapologetic for the pain he's caused and the mess he left behind. The devil uses these opportunities to point out all the places I failed, and all the wrong avenues that brought me to this place. He beats me mercilessly with my own inadequacy and inferiority. Abandonment leaves a cruel and wretched scar. It threatens to skew my perception of all men. I have never had a healthy relationship with one. There has always been neglect, abuse, infidelity, absence, plenty of opportunities to be devalued, and... pain.
It's unbearable at times to watch happy couples in action. It's hard to watch fathers lovingly scoop up their children and faithfully honor and serve their mothers. Why God, do so many others get to live this way while we remain on the outside looking in on it? We carry on, happy for others who are blessed and cherished but oh, the ache over our own lack is so great. There is a constant reckoning with conflicting emotions; a desire to rejoice for those who are happy and secure, yet a sorrow for our own missing piece. I look back and wonder how things could have gotten so out of control. I wrestle. I cry. I try to stand ten feet tall when I only feel about two inches tall. I wonder if anyone can see through me. I'm not a great pretender.
Life goes on. It doesn't stop for pain or mourning. There are still bills to pay, kids to drive, and clothes to be washed. Sometimes, I want to stop and just grieve for a moment. Something has been lost here. And occasionally, the reality of it hits me. Today is just one of those days.
But there is a comfort. Even in the midst of pain and abandonment, there is a hope, and a peace. Because I know that seat in the stands isn't really empty. I'm reminded that there is a perfect Father sitting in it, watching and cheering as Trent scores the game winning touchdown. Applauding Justin as he walks across the stage to receive his diploma. Showing Lauren what a true and proper husband is. Leading and encouraging Brendan to seek his destiny, and be the man He created him to be. Though we tarry here in suffering for a time, living from blessing to blessing, it's only for a moment; redemption is coming. We cling to this truth rather than despair. We are living without an earthly father, though not a Heavenly one. And He is anticipating Trent's first touchdown just as much as I am.
Sorrow may last for a time, but joy comes in the morning... -Psalm 30:5