Allister has lost too much and he is afraid. He is afraid of thunderstorms, cars, and loud noises. Umbrellas are not o.k.
Lots of men are scary too. Sudden movements? Forget about it.
Most of all, he is terrified, absolutely out of his mind terrified that when the kids get on the bus, or my daughter gets out of the car to walk into her high school, or anytime I walk out of his sight, that he will never see any of us ever again.
And so here is what I have noticed about Allister, and myself, and maybe all of humanity too…fear makes us defensive.
I am moved to tears when I think about how gentle God has been with me in my fear. No one knows but Christ just how deeply it ran. I used to be so defensive. I remember once when I was in the gym, beating the life out of one of the heavy punching bags. There is nothing wrong with a woman being strong or even boxing for that matter. What was wrong was that I was addicted to exercise as a means to silence the fear and pain in my heart. It was a poor substitute for Jesus.
A guy, full of swagger, lumbered by.
“Excuse me, honey,” he said.
I gritted my teeth, punched the bag harder and gave him the most civil response my defensive heart could come up with.
“I. Am. Not. Your. Honey.”
Here is the thing- I can’t tell you that if the same thing happened today that I would like being called “honey”. What I can say is that it would no longer matter to me so much because my heart is now full. I also admit to still being aggressive when I work out but now when I race the guys in the pool (And sometimes beat one or two of them. Well, not one of them. He knows who he is.) I do it for fun, not because I have something to prove.
Because Jesus, in all of His kindness, has covered me with such grace that I don’t have anything to prove anymore. I am at peace because of Christ. All the rest is just icing.
It is the kind of grace that makes me want to be gracious…even to a Great Dane mix who is afraid of everything.
So, I will be patient with Allister. I will get up early to take him out so that he doesn’t have to go out in the storm. I will walk him on the back roads until he isn’t afraid of trucks. I will stand in the rain with him instead of using an umbrella until the fear seeps away from his big, loving heart. I will help him get to know men who are kind and safe so that he can learn to trust.
I will always come home to him again.
And with each gift of grace and compassion offered I will remember the One who loved me until I could love from a heart that was full.