I think one our biggest setbacks as humans is our tendency to not really understand love. We like to compartmentalize and categorize it. We take something so amazingly bigger than us and bigger than our understanding and we try to trim it down and cut it up in to something we can more easily digest.
For Easter Sunday, I invited my ex-boyfriend to church and to our family celebration at my parents' house. (Yes, I cleared it with my husband first.) Now, readers will automatically read "ex-boyfriend" and put that in to their own terms and probably find it awkward and maybe really strange (or possibly inappropriate) to invite your ex to have Easter with your husband and family. However, he was my boyfriend over fifteen years ago when I was in High School and College. Again, readers will automatically think, "Oh. High School love. No big deal. Puppy love." But, he was more than just the guy I dated in High School. He was also my very best friend, who I told everything to, went everywhere with, ate lunch with every day, and went grocery shopping with his mom. We were inseparable. And, most people are allowed to stay in touch with their very best friend from their late teens.
Staying in touch with him would not, admittedly, have been a good idea in the first several years after we split up because there were definitely very strong romantic feelings still intact and some raw emotions that needed some years to heal up. But, after time went by, we got back in touch and stayed in touch here and there over the years.
I have a hard time with the categorization of love, and always have. There seem to be so many rules we have put in to place. You are supposed to love your in-laws and accept them as family, but if a divorce happens, you are automatically supposed to "forfeit" those people as family (and in some cases, give up all contact with them) and not love them anymore. Some people view love in the form of bloodlines and legal documents. We have love in compartments in our heart: love for friends; love for family; parental love; people we USED to love; people we love now....
My husband is amazing, as I have touted many times on this blog. He knows me better than anyone in the world ever has. He accepts my inability to let people ever completely leave my heart and is secure enough in my love for HIM (which is vast, I assure you) to allow me to love all the people around me, no matter what compartment the world feels like they should be in. He took it in stride when I walked up to our dinner table on our honeymoon cruise with another man. (He was disabled and alone so I couldn't just let him try to fill his own tray and sit by himself!) He has sat on the back-porch of my ex-in-law's house, shooting the breeze with my ex-husband and his family. He has watched me hug them all and tell them I love them. He has listened to his daughter call my ex-husband "Daddy Terry" because that is what her big sister and brother call him. He looks at me and I shrug my shoulders and he shakes his head, but he knows it is how I want things. He jokingly asks me, "Are we running a daycare here?" when I have 3 other people's children at my house. I want to allow love to seep in to all the cracks that we create as humans and make things as close to whole as possible. And he allows me to be me.
When I had a recent conversation with the aforementioned ex-boyfriend (something I have never hid from my hubby, by-the-way) who was going through a rough time, I hung up and called my husband to ask if I could invite him to Easter, and I was a little nervous about his reaction. I prefaced with: "I have a possibly inappropriate request for you...." He laughed when I finished and said, "Why would you think I would care about that?"
So, this morning as I sat on the church row with my parents, my aunt, my brother and family who made a surprise visit from out of town, my husband, my children, and my ex-boyfriend from High School, I was overwhelmed by the feeling that this is how it will be in Heaven. As a kid it is hard to imagine that Heaven will be awesome because, honestly, it sounds boring. As we get older, it starts to sound amazing. In Heaven, love will be love. We'll finally understand it. That's what I believe - I believe we won't have categories anymore. I think Heaven will be almost like today was. It won't be about who's blood related, who you have a physical attraction to, which legal documents are filed at the Court House - we will just love each other and we'll be free to do so. We'll worship God (everyone we love on one pew), no one will think it's strange if we cry while we sing praise songs, if we have trouble putting "ex" in front of in-law, if we still care about our boyfriend from High School, if we love someone else's children like our own. Love will just be love. And, then we'll all go back to the house and eat a meal, fellowship, and play football in the front yard together (without getting winded!! And, I won't be a klutz anymore!) and we'll just be one big family with so much love between each other that it can't be put in categories. And, we won't miss anyone. We won't have to watch my brother and family get back in the car to leave with tears and sorrowful embraces. We won't worry if people are okay when they're gone. We won't be thinking about those who have gone before us - they will all be there.
I can't wait! And, I can't describe how grateful I am for the cross - for my assurance that I'll experience all of that someday. For the love I was surrounded by today. For the pain that Christ endured for all of us. God laid on my heart today that even though love has hurt me sometimes - loving someone else can be so painful: When they leave you, when they disappoint you, when they live too far away, when you watch them suffer, or when they pass on and grief feels like it will consume you. But, Jesus said to me today: I suffered and died for you - sometimes loving other people is suffering for them. But, in the end, the love is still there and it served it's purpose on Earth. Especially if it helped pave their way to Heaven.
Happy Easter. I hope yours was every bit as wonderful as mine.