Thanks to time and the many seasons of life I have lived, I now value pictures much more than I ever thought I would. I take more pictures than I know what to do with most days. Of course, I take pretty much every picture on my phone and print very few of them. But, thanks to technology and Google Photos, I can pull up those pictures anytime.
It wasn't until after Kevin died that I really felt the power of pictures. Even one single, simple picture can make years seem to melt away and drastically change my mood to match the mood of the day captured in a picture. I can't explain it, but just looking at a picture of Kevin makes it seem so surreal that he's no longer with us. It tricks my mind into thinking he's just out on a job and he'll come through that door any minute. It makes the years of addiction and pain melt away to look at a picture of him before addiction. Happy. Young. The man I married.
In a rare burst of energy the other day I decided to clean out the junk drawer in the kitchen. That's when I found this picture:
I remember this picture. It was the summer of 2001. I had just graduated from college and I was spending the summer traveling with a few other members of Praise Song to do a camp at Windermere. Our group was with the 6th graders and we were leading worship for them. (I promise, I was doing actions for the song "Ain't No Rock" when this picture was taken. "Ain't no bird, gonna flap it's feathers...") Kevin and I had only been dating since February, but I already knew he was the one. There was not a doubt in my mind. I fell even more in love with him on this trip. He was such a gifted worship leader. I know those that only knew him in the last 4 years wouldn't believe he was much more than a good guitar player with lots of issues, but believe me, he loved the Lord. He loved using his gift of music to point others to Christ. He was a natural worship leader, despite his numerous other faults. I wish more of the people I now know and love could have known the Kevin from this picture.
But when I found this picture (which I am fairly sure had been on the driver's side sun visor of his truck for years), I noticed something I had never noticed before and it quickly became my favorite picture. He's looking at me. Really looking at me. And he's proud of me. And he loves me. And because honesty seems to be my thing, it felt like he hadn't looked at me, really looked at me, in years. Addiction got in the way.
He knew I was there. He didn't doubt my love or support, but he didn't look at me. Didn't see me. And, honestly, it felt like that meant he didn't really care about me. Need me. Want me. Because that's what the enemy does. He lies. He is the father of lies. Every nightmare and bad dream I have had about Kevin since his death, and even before, have been rooted in this: he didn't see me. He didn't love me. I was nothing to him. He's not even on this earth anymore and the enemy is still using that fear and doubt to lie to me and make me question everything about Kevin, his life, our marriage, and our family.
And it's the same thing the enemy does in our relationship with God. Satan convinces us that, because life is hard and not what we envisioned, that God doesn't see us. Doesn't care about us. Doesn't need us. Doesn't want us. He never did and never will. And that makes it easier to walk away. Easier to choose anything but Christ. Anything but joy.
Please believe me, no matter your scars, poor choices, or hard circumstances, God loves you! He sees you. He knows you. He works things for His glory and your good. Dear brother or sister, listen to the words of life those who love you speak over You. He has not left you. He has not forsaken you. He has much more love in his eyes for you than Kevin has in this picture. There's no comparison. He wants you to grow and know Him more deeply. Sometimes that means a change in jobs. A change in relationships. A change in homes. A change in marital status. A change in continents. A change in family number. Sometimes it doesn't feel good. That's when satan swoops in and begins to plant those lies.
Please believe me when I say that I've had lots of moments of doubt in the last few years. I've done my best to be open and honest, but I don't share everything. I don't share the temper tantrums I throw at God. I don't share the times I shout at Him for leaving me here on my own or crying over not being seen. I don't share the complaints of having to be the one to deal with insurance, take out the trash, and kill all the bugs. He hadn't done most of that in at least two years (a loving God graciously preparing me for what He already knew was ahead in the picture of my earthly life), so I've been complaining about those things for a long time. I get it. I know your hurt. Here's what I want to say: scream. Shout. Tell God how you really feel. He can take it. He's so much bigger than we even realize. Your questions and doubts and misunderstanding Him won't change Him or make him smaller.
But, when you've exhausted your words and your energy is spent, sit. Be still. Listen for Him to declare His love to you. It could come through His word, a sweet friend, a card in the mail, someone at work who doesn't even know God. Be still. Let Him speak. Let Him move. He'll prove that He sees you. Every.time.
Oh, Father, remove the lies. Show Your love and care for us each day. Fill our minds with Your truth so when satan's lies come our way we can recognize them immediately. Break through the darkness of our circumstances with the light of Your truth.