There's a story - maybe it's a scene from a movie, maybe it's just an email joke making the rounds, but it goes something like this:
This guy decides to leave his cat with his best friend who would come over to the house and live with his mom while he's away. He told his friend, "Just feed the cat three meals a day, and take good care of him." The next day, he phoned his friend and asked, "How are things?" "Everything's fine - your mom is fine, the cat is fine, everything is fine."
The next day, he calls, asking the same questions: "How are things?" "Things are fine." "How's Mom?" "Mom's fine." "How's the cat?" "The cat's DEAD." "WHAT?!? How could you let it die?" "Well, I'm sorry, but I couldn't do anything, I didn't see it. But what I think happened was that the cat was on the roof, fell off, and broke his leg. Then, he hobbled out into the road, and got run over."
The first guy said, "Well, couldn't you have tried to break it to me over time? You could have said it bit by bit. For example, you could have first said 'The cat's on the roof', then the next day said 'The cat fell off the roof, and broke its leg,' you know?" "Yeah, yeah, I get it. See you later." "OK. Bye." He hung up. The next day, he called again. "How are things?" "Things are fine." "How's Mom?" "Um, Mom's on the roof."
Well, the cat's dead - except it isn't a cat - it's someone I used to think was pretty special. And he's not dead; he just has a wedding date set for June 16. Obviously, things didn't turn out as I'd hoped, but I thought that giving it time would make a difference. It made a difference for him - he's getting married in June to a 35-year-old divorcee with 2 kids. His mom was kind enough to give me a "the cat's on the roof" at Christmas - their family newsletter mentioned the engagement (although this is the fourth or more time he's been engaged), so it wasn't a complete shock, but it's still hard.
It helped that I had read this from This Fish, but as comforting as Heather's blog entry was, it didn't quite fit. So, I went looking further and found these excerpts from Corrie Ten Boom's book, "The Hiding Place" that were just what I needed:
(On the prospect of her father's death): "I burst into tears, 'I need you!' I sobbed. 'You can't die! You can't!' 'Corrie,' he began gently. 'When you and I go to Amsterdam, when do I give you your ticket?' 'Why, just before we get on the train.' 'Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we're going to need things, too. Don't run out ahead of him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need – just in time.'”
And then this:
"How long I lay on my bed sobbing for the one love of my life I do not know. I was afraid of what father would say. Afraid he would say, “There'll be someone else soon,” and that forever afterwards this untruth would lie between us. 'Corrie,' he began instead, 'do you know what hurts so very much? It's love. Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked that means pain. There are two things we can do when this happens. We can kill the love so that it stops hurting. But then of course part of us dies, too. Or, Corrie, we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel. God loves Karel, even more than you do, and if you ask Him, He will give you His love for this man, a love nothing can prevent, nothing destroy. Whenever we cannot love in the old human way, God can give us the perfect way.'"
It is amazing how God's grace is available for those unexpected (by us) events - those bumps in the road that could derail us from our course. A couple of times in the past, I've been the recipient of that grace - both times, it was completely unexpected, but it was there just the same. This time has been another one - and I am grateful to God for the foundation He's laid in my heart and in my life to prepare me for this just now.
I'm not to the point where I can be happy about it yet, but I think I'm moving in the right direction. All of the "not God's will" reminders are there - I just need to stop and catch my breath.