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Held


There are things you can’t keep, so I’m told. Things that are beautiful, precious — that we want to keep close. However, our authentic desire to keep some things close to us may not always be possible.


A few years ago, Chris and I flew to Los Angeles to visit with our daughter and son-in-law. During our time together, we enjoyed walking along the Pacific coastline. Strolling near the rocks with the rest of the tourists was particularly fun. I will never forget seeing my first starfish in living color! The two hidden creatures we saw looked unreal, as they rested camera-ready on the side of a rock. Fantastic, brilliant starfish just sitting there. The orange and purple colors drew me in and made me want to hold them in my hands.


So, when I attempted to move closer to the starfish with hopes of lifting one from the water to put into my carry-on bag, (just kidding, but no, really…) I didn’t realize doing this was a no-no. My family scolded and chastised me for even thinking of such a thing and, furthermore, questioned how I would eliminate its smell once the starfish stopped living. I had no answer. All I knew in the moment was that beautiful creature would be something I would love to see daily in our Texas home. I wanted to enjoy its beauty and be reminded of the moment I first saw it in the water in California. How could that be wrong? I wanted it selfishly.


Obviously, I get attached to things very quickly and then want to cherish them for a long time. This can be a wonderful trait in deep friendships. However, I held onto Robert so tightly throughout his 18 years, and with the same sense of deep parental connection I had for our other children that I sometimes find it difficult to be away from our adult children even now.


There is no doubt that I was attached to Robert. Almost every night of his last 10 years in our home, before he was put to bed, I would hold him in my arms after his last G-tube feeding on our large sofa. He was a growing young man, and the hugs he could give you with his long arms were a welcomed ritual every day. Letting go of Robert was unthinkable! Seeing him reach out to receive a hug from almost everyone he met warmed my heart. He knew how to hold and how to be held.


Robert didn’t realize that suddenly grabbing us by the neck and reeling us into his welcoming arms was often a shock. I could be walking by his wheelchair on my way to another part of the house, and he would not let me pass by him without a serious, intentional hug. This made me late to a few meetings, but was always worth it, and necessary. He was known throughout our community for these gestures of pure love. His siblings were famous for relishing the moment as they exited and returned to our home. These memories are like a collage of photos in my heart and mind.


I want to be held like that this holiday season — the kind of long overdue hugging that we have been without for months. I experienced that kind of hug today with a sweet girlfriend at lunch. We appreciated an older couple stop us as we sat down and tell us that they saw us embrace before our meal arrived, and that they thought it was beautiful. And from that moment until we left the restaurant, we noticed several tables of ladies hugging each other in friendship as they gathered together. One table next to us was in tears as they hugged one another. I don’t know why they were crying, but the hugging said it all. “I love you, and this lingering hug is my gift to you.”


There was a noticeable atmosphere of cherished friendships for the entire time we dined. What a beautiful sight. Hugging. Holding. Expressing deep emotions with just your arms.


How do we then let go of the unique thing or the beautiful soul after witnessing its beauty? I do not do it easily. Even as I write this to you, I have had to stop and take a moment to remember Robert’s awesome hugs and rejoice and be glad that, today, I felt that same type of gratefulness as I hugged my girlfriend and watched other women cherish their friends. I want to hold those memories close. I don’t want to let them go. I think they should be held. I think we should take a moment to remember or just to be grateful for those hugs.


There are times in all our lives that require us to let go of that thing…that person.


“Don’t hold it so tightly, like a small child with a new puppy, squeezing it lovingly too tightly,” we are told.


“But I want to squeeze the baby, Mommy. He’s so cute and I love him,” a sibling may reply.


We want to hold on. We want to be held, especially in our darkest hours. I can only offer you what I have experienced and know to be true. God can hold you when your world crashes and literally slips from your arms, as Robert slipped from mine that day in 2015. I was numb; I was angry; and I was lost in sorrow. But God’s arms were big enough and strong enough to hold me. He held me quietly in these moments. He held me even when my anger was aimed straight at Him. He held me.


He can hold you through the loss of expectations and dreams, or tragically the loss of an unborn child, an 18-year-old child, or a 49-year-old friend. In this year of devastating changing circumstances, you may not have been able to hold onto that lovely thing or the person you loved, or maybe the hope of a cure for your child. As the lyrics in today’s Listening Library song say:


This is what it means to be held

How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life

And you survive

This is what it is to be loved

And to know that the promise was

When everything fell, we'd be held



Allow yourself to be held and to feel those loving arms…all of them.


Listening Library: Held (Natalie Grant)

https://youtu.be/jJhsexd8Qqg


“The Lord reached down from above and took hold of me; he pulled me out of the deep waters.” (Psalm 18:16 GNT)



Held


Two months is too little

They let him go

They had no sudden healing

To think that providence would

Take a child from his mother while she prays

Is appalling


Who told us we'd be rescued?

What has changed and why should we be saved from nightmares?

We're asking why this happens to us who have died to live

It's unfair


This is what it means to be held

How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life

And you survive

This is what it is to be loved

And to know that the promise was

When everything fell, we'd be held


This hand is bitterness

We wanna taste it, let the hatred numb our sorrow

The wise hand opens slowly to lilies of the valley and tomorrow


This is what it means to be held

How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life

And you survive

This is what it is to be loved

And to know that the promise was

When everything fell, we'd be held


If hope is born of suffering

If this is only the beginning

Can we not wait for one hour watching for our Savior?


This is what it means to be held

How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life

And you survive

This is what it is to be loved

And to know that the promise was

When everything fell, we'd be held


Yeah, ooh be held, oh


This is what it is to be loved

And to know that the promise was

When everything fell, we'd be held


This is what it means to be held


Songwriters: Christa Nichole Wells

Held lyrics © Weimarhymes Publishing, Inc.


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In Our Arms

LIFE UNEXPECTED