Straight Paths

I believe Dee was in her mid-fifties when admitted to hospice, a prominent beautician who owned and managed a local salon. You have to love the name of her salon, “Dee’s Wigwam”. It’s been years since Dee died, so some of the details have faded. I can’t even recollect her illness, but I’ll never forget her elegance and grace. There was just something about her.

I was fortunate to have a onetime brief encounter with Dee’s daughter, Debi, who was in her mid-twenties and appeared mature and confident beyond her years. Dee had been admitted to the hospital, and Debi and I sat in the lobby getting acquainted. Debi reflected on what a “wonderful mother” Dee had been. Debi shared, “Mom always told me, ‘You’ll always be my horse even if you never win a race.’ ”

What unconditional love and acceptance! No wonder Debi exuded such maturity and confidence beyond her years. This is the kind of unconditional love and acceptance that extinguishes the fear of failure and rejection; that frees a person to step out from behind their pretenses and defenses; and risk becoming who and what they are designed to be. But stepping out from behind our pretenses and defenses takes more than courage, it requires trust. And the world doesn’t condition us to trust, does it? Therefore, most of us have “trust issues”.

But I am here to tell you that you can dare to trust God even when you don’t trust anyone else. I dared to trust Him over 40 years ago. I was disillusioned with myself and with life, and I was desperately empty and searching for God knows what, to fill the void inside me. I thought, “I’ll read the Bible,” so I read from midnight to five o’clock in the morning, but no change! I asked, “God what do you expect from me?” Then I told Him, “I give up! I can’t do it! If I’m going to be saved, you’re gonna have to do it for me,” but still no epiphany.

I sighed and decided to open the Bible and give God “one more chance.” I flipped the Bible open to Matthew chapter seven and read, “Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you … If you being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” I thought, “Surely it can’t be as simple as just asking. Surely God expects me to clean my life up first. But even if I could, how could I undo the things I’d already done?” So I decided to take God at His word, and I said to God, “God, either you’re a liar or you’re telling the truth. And if it’s true for other people, then it’s true for me too. So I’m asking.”

There’s no way I can communicate the love and grace that filled my heart that morning. I couldn’t believe that anyone would accept and love me just the way I was. I didn’t even love or accept myself. That day I became His horse even if I never win a race. This is the kind of love we all long for. This is the kind of love a person will live and die for.

How about you? Do you long to be accepted just the way you are? Then dare to step out from behind your pretenses and defenses and stand naked before your heavenly Father, “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5)

Loren Hardin is a social worker with SOMC-Hospice and can be reached at 740-357-6091 or at lorenhardin53@gmail.com . You can order Loren’s book, “Straight Paths: Insights for living from those who have finished the course,” at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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