“I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” Joshua 1:5
This bible verse is the one my son Jon picked for his confirmation verse. His grandmother gave him a plague with this verse and its hanging in his room. I don’t know how much thought went into selecting this verse, but I was glad he picked it and I had always liked that verse.
When Jon was 5, his dad and I divorced. Jon, his brother Bob and I moved into a new house. The house was on Elm Street and it was new to us, but not new. It had a lot of character, including some rooms that had been finished in cardboard rather than sheet rock. Our new home. For me it was a home, but I know for the boys it was one of two homes. They had a new split sense of home. I will probably never fully understand how that felt for them or the lasting affect it has had on their lives and their sense of home.
We lived in the house on Elm Street together for the next 12 years. We named the house lil’ blue for its blue siding and the special place it held in our hearts. It eventually became home to all of us and the place my kids grew into adults. Twelve years later as we were preparing to move we had replaced all the cardboard with wallpaper, replaced all the carpet, painted all the walls – twice, remodeled the kitchen and bathrooms, put in new windows and fenced in the yard. We left our mark on its wooden bones and gopher pocketed yard.
When we said our good-byes to lil’ blue in 2007 we didn’t know then that we’d be moving again a year later in 2008. Our sense of home became each other, our dogs and our favorite belongings that were moveable and easy to pack. In the home we live in now, it again became my home faster than it did Jon’s. He lived here, but he didn’t like it much and often talked about lil’ blue and how he missed her.
His high school graduation came in the summer of 2009, a year and half after we settled into the house that was hard to like. The best name I can think of for this house, the only name I can imagine coming from Jon’s mouth would be “the awkward grey-green box with the small rooms”. As I prepared for Jon’s graduation party, it was hard for me to spend too much time thinking about the road I travelled with Jon during his school years. I always ended up strolling down the path that had a big sign that read, “You let him down”. Thoughts that reminded me that some of my choices had made his experiences difficult and disruptive. Lately I felt that I had disturbed his life more than I had provided a restful peaceful home.
Early in the morning on the day of his party I stood in the kitchen and found myself staring at the posters of pictures I put together of Jon’s life. Pictures of his first day of life and every other small and big moment, up to, and including, his graduation ceremony. The pictures were beautiful and intriguing to me. As I stared I realized that we were never really alone. God had been with us the whole time. He had been with Jon. He had never left him, never forsaken him. He was the constant source of love that held us all together, watched over Jon and bringing us all to this very day of celebration together. Jon’s face, picture after picture was smiling. He was surrounded by family and friends, laughter, birthday cakes, adventures and awkward stages. The pictures told a story of a full-life. A happy life.
I dissolved into a puddle of tears – praising God for having been with us and for showing me that in such a loving way. We aren’t promised an easy ride through our lives, but we are promised that we will not be alone. We will not be forsaken by our Father in heaven who loves us just the way we are.