Eight thirty in the morning and the word is distant.

Everyone is here with someone important to them, and I am a million miles away. I am trying not to notice the clusters of people sitting together, and I am trying not to be lonely. I am trying not to be angry, but I am also remembering all the softball games with you there in the bleachers and me, trying not to see you and afraid and wishing so much that I could just be there alone. I am remembering the blur of north Texas in my windows as I’m crying and trying to make it somewhere else. But it’s eight thirty and I’m wishing that you could somehow have understood that this is the place that I wanted you to be. The one place you aren’t.

Restorative relationships training. There are no eyes for me to share the joke with, but I laugh at it alone. God, I need this.

Hebrews 11 is happening. I’m still laughing to myself. But I’m also listening, and what I’m learning is significant: the expectation is our own obedience. We are talking about all these people who died before they got to see the result of their lives. About the unfinished story. The unfinished story is not a failure.

We are not a failure.

I know about expectations. I have learned it from these exact words. I know about them in my life. About expecting things to happen to me or for me, and about how they let you down. I learned a long time ago that if you come in without all these expectations, you get the freedom of following God without fear and without resentment. I thought I put down expectations years ago.

But she is talking about expectations in relationships. About the fact that when we expect someone to be something or do something…we write this story that isn’t ours to tell. As much as disappointment can destroy me, it’s even more toxic when it’s more than disappointment, it’s you letting me down. I was not born to fix you. You are not here to save me. We are just supposed to follow. To obey. To love each other well and not try to finish the story early.

I expected you to be here. I expected you to care about me. I expected you to…

Do you have any idea how hard it is to let that go? Do you have any idea how much I want to have some kind of happy ending? How much I want to sit in this room with you and feel some kind of resolution? I hear her telling me that it’s coercion, not obedience, unless I give up on expecting you to be all of this.

There has been enough coercion here. Nevertheless…

I’m angry, but I’m trying not to be. I’m asking God to take it from me. The best I can do right now is to hold it in an open hand and pray it falls away. Our story is unfinished. I promise to you not to write an ending without you, and not to resent you for lingering here in the sharp part. Faith is a process that may never produce anything. The process is the gift. The faith is the gift.

I won’t wait. I’ll just be here.

(I really do think that every human being in the world should be required to hear Kim Bandy give restorative relationship training. And I am starting to realize that the next sixteen weeks might rock my world more than I realized. I mean it’s been one day and I’m already just…aghast…I’ll keep you posted. I’m all about admitting that I could use a little restructuring)


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