It’s kind of hard for Mom to see the road when she has tears in her eyes.
Our house guests had been gone not even an hour when the text arrived on my phone. I laughed. And then, I wiped the tears from my own eyes.
As we hugged and said our goodbyes that morning, the girls’ mom mentioned how sad it had been for her to be packing. I understood. Their days had been full of old friends and swimming, of family gatherings and sleep-overs. They were leaving to go hundreds of miles away.
It is sad. But, I have to tell you—it’s also joyful.
It’s what happens when we love people.
The homecomings are all laughter and excitement, the separation, tears and sadness.
In between, the sweet times of fellowship are a delight; the distance of disagreement—heartbreak.
Love keeps us coming back. Again and again, the cycle is repeated.
Joy, sadness. Smiles, tears.
I know. It’s hokey. Sentimental slop.
But, that’s life.
Life is hokey. It’s mushy. It’s sloppy.
It’s horribly messy. Horribly.
But, I’ll say this: Better are tears wiped from the eyes while driving away than the voice of regret for never having come.
The memories of times, happy or sad, spent with loved ones are infinitely more to be treasured than the times passed in self-centered pursuits. When, in the passing years, we sit and speak of the good times, we will remember occasions filled with voices and faces, laughter and tears.
The time we share with people is precious; hours wasted in the dark and quiet are hardly remembered at all, save with regret.
One could read the words I’ve scattered on this page and nod his or her head in affirmation, agreeing completely about time spent with family. And yet, I stopped talking about family quite a way up the page.
The statement was: It’s what happens when we love people.
Family. Neighbors. Strangers. Enemies.
Being a writer, and working to make my articles more accessible has led me to visit and read more divergent views of faith and life than I once did. There is a recent theme that has disappointed me, even worried me.
Why I Ditched the Church Scene (and why you should, too).
Folks who have been hurt, or seen sin in the lives of others, or had disagreements with leaders, are leaving the church in droves. They are not going out to start a new fellowship. They are ditching church altogether.
I’ve said it before myself. I don’t want to go to church today.
And, I will admit here for the first time publicly, in my head I have said it differently. I don’t want to go to church ever again.
Do you know why I keep going to church, with all those hypocrites and fakes—with all those sinners?
They need me.
No, not because I’m so holy. Not because I’m so wise. They need me because I’ve got some rough edges that can bump against the rough edges they bring with them each week. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
This hypocritical fake, who still has a problem with sin, loving them can do what humanity is intended to do. Help them to be better people.
Help me to be a better person.
Is the church full of two-faced fakes?
So is my music store. So is the restaurant where I break bread. So is the university where you got your degree. We interact with them in those places, as well.
We are all flawed. We all need help.
God gives it in the form of other flawed, helpless humans. If we abandon them, we serve only ourselves.
And, in the end, if we serve only ourselves, we harm everyone.
Will there be tears?
Will there be unhappiness?
It is a certainty.
What is also certain is that as we live in community, we learn to be the men and women God intended for us to be.
From each other. By being with each other.
I said there will be tears and unhappiness. There will also be great joy and celebration.
It’s what happens when we love people.
Some day, He’ll wipe those tears away Himself. (Revelation 21:4)
For now, I’ve got a sleeve I can wipe them on.
Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.
(Anonymous ~ attributed to Dr. Seuss ~ American author ~ 1904-1991)
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
(Hebrews 10:24-25 ~ NLT)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.