When Love Grows
Two weeks ago, my mommy got married.
She was radiant and he was beaming. Their day was a true picture of the redemption Jesus has for those who love Him.
I remember the moment I realized Greg Humbles was in it for the long haul. It was the day he accepted my invitation to walk my mom down the aisle on my wedding day. From the time I met Greg, he had been intentional about his interactions with my brother and I. I took it as his way of protecting us and maybe himself too, until he and mom figured out what they were doing. Him agreeing to participate in my wedding day gave me confidence that he wasn’t going anywhere, and that belief overwhelmed me with joy and sadness.
That’s rough, right? As I overanalyze my feelings here, I’m struggling with how to express what I mean about the sadness part. I want to be honest, even if doing so showcases my flaws. Flaws or inconsistencies. Or both. It was barely a year after my dad died that I asked my mom if she’d ever be open to remarrying. The thought of her spending the rest of her life alone completely terrified me. It was a huge area where I just simply refused to trust Jesus with her, although I prayed constantly that His provision would find her someone to love again.
She was too cool about it. She’d say she was open to it, but years passed and her main form of socializing was to attend “women’s only” Bible studies. I’d get on her case and essentially demand she take matters into her own hands and find someone already. I was preparing to move back to Albuquerque and leave her behind. My heart knew she didn’t need me, that she’d be fine… but my head told me I was her savior. That sounds extreme, but here’s my honesty. Even as I type, a lump is forming in my throat. I think about the love I have for my mom and my confusing sense of responsibility to take care of her. Yet my mother is the strongest woman I know. She doesn’t need me.
“Love is not found in the intensity of your grip but in the tenderness of your release.”
Jesus has always, always had my mom in the palm of His hands.
I remember one day, we were driving on upper State Street in Santa Barbara, trying to imagine what our new futures would look like in light of my dad’s death. I asked mom if she had any new hopes or dreams for herself and her answer astounded me. I can’t recall the exact words, but it was something to the affect of: “I feel like I’ve been so completely blessed in my life so far, that I wonder if maybe my time has passed.” She didn’t mean it as if her life was over, she meant that maybe her blessings had been used up and now all she had left to live for was a monotonous life on her own. This coming from a woman who had just lost her husband of over 25 years to suicide that same year! And before that had lived for years and years with the many challenges and hardships of the depression that had caused that suicide. Her humbling perspective was that she had been so blessed, there weren’t any blessings left for her. Gosh.
We hoped for one another. We joked about who would get married first and we prayed specifically that the Lord would take care of the other before ourselves. The Lord answered my mom’s prayer for me first. However, I was introduced to Greg one day before I got engaged. That was November of 2014. My answer was just around the corner.
Several years ago, as clearly as I have ever experienced before, God told me that He would redeem my winter. That November He began that work in me. Yet as my mommy’s wedding day drew closer, I struggled. “I have found the one whom my soul loves.” But what if it’s the second one your soul has loved? I’m just now learning that a growing love for one person doesn’t equal a diminishing love for another. My heart hurt as I thought of my dad, and the life we all could have shared. It’s hard to explain the actual physical pain that can come from grief and anger and even growing compassion for someone you love but can’t hold onto.
“Redemptive motion, as beautiful as it is, still involves loss.”
A woman lost her husband. A man lost his wife. And on February 20, 2016, the Lord fused together the broken pieces He’d held safely in His arms all this time and He redeemed the lives of His beloveds.
Sometimes through the darkness it’s hard to see the love of The Father. And it brings tears to my eyes to reflect on my mom’s wedding day and have no doubt in my mind that she is deeply loved. That Greg is deeply loved. That our families are deeply loved by Jesus. He makes all things new.