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This is headed in a good direction. Just wanted you to know that.

We've always made family dinners a priority (thank you, Stasi). They really are the centerpiece of a family life, the places where stories get told and life gets processed and a lot of informal teaching gets passed along. Laughter, banter, pass the salt and you gotta hear what happened today. When our oldest son, Sam, left for college, there came that night where we no longer set a fifth place. Four placemats, and we all had to face the loss.

Then Blaine left, and it was three placemats. There have been a lot of quiet dinners these past three years; Blaine brought a lot of life to that table, and it's hard to be the one son left with mom and dad.

After we took Luke to college Labor Day weekend, Stasi and I came back and basically avoided dinner for two weeks. There was company, and some travel, and late days at work...and we were avoiding the inevitable. Neither of us wanted to sit down at a table for two.

What I wanted to share in all this is something beyond our sadness. I've been so keenly aware how easy it is when you are hurting to make agreements. This is the time you've really got to watch over your heart (Prov. 4:23). Too easy to go from the immediate pain, which is real, to something sweeping like, "Life is just loss." Or, "I hate change." Or, "What is there to look forward to now?" Pain can so quickly open the door to other things you don't want to let in—like despair, or hopelessness, or resignation.

And what has been most noticeable is that we actually have a choice whether we will let Jesus comfort us. Really.

Pain can feel so "true," so "real," that we actually push the comfort of God away because we feel we need to stay in the pain to honor it, or because it might be the most we've felt anything in a long time, or because those subtle agreements have begun to creep in and we give place to pain as what is most true about life. And I don't want to do that. You don't want to do that.

No agreements. No pushing Jesus away. Whatever the loss may be.

 

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About John

John Eldredge is an author (you probably figured that out), a counselor, and a teacher. He is also president of Ransomed Heart, a ministry devoted to helping people discover the heart of God, recover their own hearts in God's love, and learn to live in God's Kingdom. John met his wife, Stasi, in high school.... READ MORE

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