A pohutukawa tree clung to a boulder on a border between land and sea.
The ocean tide comes and goes. The wind thrusts and blows. What is such a vulnerable tree doing in such a risky spot?
I often wonder that myself– why I put myself in harm’s way.
Why do I meet new people when I’m leaving soon? Why do I connect with old friends when we will separate within a few weeks? These questions have rolled and crashed over me like the waves at Kua Bay on a winter’s day. Being in my hometown for two months helps me confront the relationships of my past and now. Currently, I am caught between two countries. I was born and raised in Hawaii, USA. I live and go to university in New Zealand, my parents’ home country. How does that work, I often do not know. Yet here I am now between two school years, after joyful social occasions at home, faced with the hard questions of relationships. The question, endlessly, endlessly as the ocean, resounding, Why, why love at all?
I thought about it.
Over the past week I met with friends from my high school graduating class. Some are in university, some have DTS. We haven’t seen each other since the beginning of this year. Therefore here comes your classic questions! What was your favorite thing about college or DTS this year? Three separate people, different locations– what did they all say? (Listen carefully). They all said friendships. Not the awesome college course or the mall near by or even what God taught them specifically…. but instead, the highest of the human heart was relationship.
And that’s what also gives us the greatest pain, right? You think of all the times you have been emotionally hurt, and it wasn’t because you sat on top of a mountain alone and then all of a sudden your heart says OUCH!! No. Pain doesn’t originate from isolation. We are bumped, bruised, hardened by interacting with real people.
Then, if loving people is the “problem”, the disturbing talent of some becomes keeping up the appearances of relationships without having the hardships of them.Movie nights that never turn into anything else, humorous jokes that never transition into meaningful conversation. You can tell the group of friends that are trying to keep each other at arm’s length emotionally. You just have to listen for a day, and see if it ends with conversation about their hearts. (Not that you should be giving the depths of your heart to everyone, there IS wisdom involved with such situations!). Okay, where was I. The shallowness of some relationships…
Am I pointing fingers? Well, if I do, of course that blame has to be cast on myself before anyone else. I travelled through a stage in life when I shut down meeting new people, just because I had been hurt too many times by the airplane syndrome. Those beautiful aircrafts that hold so much adventure, but gave so much pain when they carried away someone I loved (my siblings, best friends, classmates, the list goes on and on.) Oh– but wait– there’s that indicator of pain again– love.
If love is the culprit behind so many hard seasons of life, why bother? I suppose it’s the question of all humanity, asked and answered countless times. But surely you and I could do with a reminder again.
Go back to that tree.
The tide comes and goes, exposing roots, the wind blows and berates her bark, leaves, and flowers.
Yet that tree is holding on to something firm.
Strong. Not fluffy sand that dissipates with the slightest wind. Instead, a huge boulder, of solid rock that does not wear down. Is the tree potentially going to lose some branches? Will it lose some composure and normalcy? Of course. But is she afraid that she will be toppled altogether? No. Not at all. Why? Because, though– at high tide you cannot see the rock– she clings on nonetheless, letting her roots run deep, her soul be fed, as well as made strong. What do you see? Nothing but the tree, broken and not lifted up.
When you look at someone who is weathered through much hardship, you cannot always see at first glance what has carried them through. Not seeing the support right away doesnot mean that relationships and separations are easy. Far from it. I do not survive being caught between two countries because my friendships are shallow. Far from it! My heart is whole because I have a relationship that carries me through all storms. What do you know? That to trust God with your heart, however risky, is to be secure.
I have not been the best at trusting Him lately.
But maybe… today… I can depend on His word, rather than unbelief. I can see with eyes of faith, proclaiming the words of my Beloved to myself… literally saying His truth out loud with no one but God for an audience–
“Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Take heart, because HE has overcome the world.
The one who loves despite storms,
despite our troublesome, worthy relationships.
THAT’S the answer to the question “Why?”
Because He’s worth it.
Love always was.
Photo credit: my lovely postcard from Renee George, reminiscent of a poem I wrote about this all.