A tribute to our Cole,
Our family surrounded the dinner table, each of us sharing a high and a low from our day. In a perfect world, each of us would give the one sharing his/her undivided attention, eye contact, affirmation or curiosity. In our imperfect family, we’re a mess of interruptions, talk-overs, and sometimes indifference. However, each night we have another opportunity to grow in love and offer a piece of ourselves in an imperfect environment. Several had taken a turn when we came to Meseret. “My high is Cole coming to park to play with me after school.” She’d barely spoken the words in her thick Ethiopian accent when you jumped out of your chair, arms held high in a victory pose, face lit aglow you exclaimed, “That’s the first time! This is the first time I’m her high!” It had been 15 months since they’d joined our family. 15 long months for all seven. My heart leapt for you. You have wrestled hard. Wrestled with fierce determination. Wrestled through the pain of rejection and the ache of feeling unloved.
For eleven years you’d been the baby of our clan. Life of the party. Born to play. Born to love. And everybody has loved you. Winning over a heart has been as natural as taking breath. Relationship has always been your passion. It never occurred to us they’d not receive you.
You moved toward them, hungry to connect. And their straight arm screamed, “NO!” Lover refused, heart crushed. Day after day. Week after week. As you moved in, the straight arm raised. Your eleven year-old heart grew angry, masking the wounding pain of rejection. And our “baby” lost his space. Overnight, you became big brother and middle child. Rejected and displaced. In your angst, your hunger for connection was overcome by control.
Control??? I never imagined I’d speak your name and control in the same breath. Stress responses catapult us into the unforeseen. We brace ourselves. Become rigid. Clamp down.
You rebounded between pursuit, anger, and tears. As I was tucking you into bed one night following an anger-filled day, several months after your sisters had arrived, I asked if perhaps you were angry because of their rejection and it was easier to feel angry than the pain of rejection. Without hesitation, you matter-of-factly replied, “Yep, pretty much.”
You have always possessed the rare gift of articulating your heart.
For months, we shed tears alongside each other, in each other’s arms. I kept the vision before you…you have a rare opportunity that few men ever embrace: to move into another, love and nourish the soul of another when she offers nothing but the straight arm. When nothing in her life has called forth her invitational soul. When invitation is far too terrifying and feels like death to her. You may choose to learn of love in it’s purest form, for the sake of the other.
After eight months of moving toward them, meeting the straight arm, and angry retreat, something within you shifted. Your truer, masculine self emerged in the form of playful pursuit, energetic engagement. Your hunger for relationship with them outweighed the pain of rejection. This kind of love is from Heaven. And through you, Heaven disarmed the straight arm.
Your movement still scared them, yet you no longer feared their rejection. Strength rooting into the One who is Love. And this One who lives in you began to pour forth and deposit life into her imprisoned soul. You nicknamed her “honey.” She related to you as anything but your “honey.” Stiff-necked would have been more fitting. But your Lord graced you to see through his eyes and you spoke vision into her by renaming her….“honey.” As the days and months went by, your playful pursuit continued and the straight arm softened. Slowly, her soul is growing more permeable and receiving.
As we sat around the dinner table, and your “honey”, in thick Ethiopian claimed you as her high, I believe there was another looking on with his arms held high in victory pose. Your Eternal Father belting out, “Well done, good and faithful servant! Because you are battling fierce, she is tasting my love through you. And she is becoming more permeable to me as well.”
And now these three remain: faith, hope and
. But the greatest of these is
1 Corinthians 13:13