Shallow pocket

I’d never been to daycare before.

I was about 4.

My mom dropped me off at the daycare because she and my dad were painting the house. I felt abandoned, confused, and lonely.

Then a teenager girl put her arm around my shoulder and I saw all the toys–including a squeaky toy hammer just like mine–and I was okey-dokey.

And then after snack (I think it was) we got to go in the backyard and that was when I saw the WONDERLAND PLAY PLACE . .

(Apparently my mom had some trouble convincing me to come down from the play fort at the end of the day and wanted to know why I was so excited about the squeaky toy hammer when I had one exactly like it at home.)

Empty pocket

At about 11, my best friend moved hours and hours away.  When you’re a kid, you can’t drive a car or buy plane tickets or a house in another state, so there wasn’t much I could do except write letters and talk to her long-distance on the phone from time to time.  About a year after the move, her life had become quite separate from mine.  I was beginning my years of hermitage, my years where I felt so empty.

Deep pocket

I was trying to climb out of the empty when, at 21, my father died.  I grappled with missing him.  Missing him was something that seemed too slippery to ever really look in the face.  He had changed so much in his dementia that I struggled to remember who he had been.

When I look back, those years have almost a dream-like quality.  My memory for those years is poor (my memory in general isn’t very good).  It was through occasions (like his birthday) and dreams that I missed my father the most.  The missing was slippery not only because the dementia had changed him so much during the last part of his life, but also because I couldn’t face that I had really lost him–something I couldn’t control, undo, or fix.

New pocket

The latest time of missing has been for my Ben, and the 1,0002.38 miles (per Mapquest) between our cities.  I never knew I had a “Benjamin Thomas League” to miss until last year–July of last year, July 22 of last year.

My heart aches to be with him.  I miss hugging him most.  I miss his arms, his eyes, our face-to-face talks.  I miss being in the same room with him.  If Jesus is willing, I’ll be on a plane at 7 a.m. on the morning of May 17–the day after school gets out–but that is still 37 days away.  37 days has never seemed so far away to me.

Our lives have pockets.

I’ve had shallow pockets and deep pockets, short pockets and the long pocket of life without my father.  I’ve had empty pockets where the loneliness has been easy to see, and stuffed pockets where there are plenty of distractions.

How about you?  Have you had pockets in your life?  Maybe you’ve had lots of shallow ones, or a really deep one.  Maybe you’ve had mostly empty ones, or maybe you’ve worked hard to stuff them with distractions.  Maybe you’ve been in a long pocket for most of your life, and you don’t know how to get out.

Missing is powerful.

It’s especially frustrating to a Type A like me because missing isn’t something you can usually control, or at least not very well.

I can’t control who lives and who dies.  And, although I could probably follow a friend somewhere if they moved, I couldn’t travel all over to be with all my friends who have moved away.  Illness, accidents, aging, work, financial status, divorce, shared custody, and the choices of others can stitch pockets for us that we wouldn’t have made for ourselves.  Sometimes, we sew our own pockets of missing, like I did for years in staying away from most situations where I could have made friends.

While we have some say in some reasons for pockets in our lives, we have no say at all in others.  And sometimes we can’t undo pockets we ourselves have sewn by our own mistakes.

But the worst and most powerful missing doesn’t come from a pocket.  It comes from a hole.  A hole that goes down and down and, because there is no seam to keep it from stopping, goes down and down forever.

The worst missing of my life has been the bottomless pocket of missing something indefinably big, frighteningly important.  I didn’t know what I was missing, and most of the time I didn’t even know I was missing something that could sew up the torn seam. 

My life was a game of “try to fill the bottomless pocket”: read more books . . buy another game . . make more friends . . get a puppy . . shop more . . get more education . . go on more adventures . . get healthier . . read more magazines . . become more beautiful . . find a boyfriend/husband-to-be . . do more charity work.

The seam was missing, and, while I looked for things to fill the bottomless pocket, I sort of knew none of them would ever really do it.

There was still this empty free-fall of missing, this hole of missing not something, but someone–someone I’d never met and wasn’t even sure I was supposed to meet, someone who could sew up the torn seam.

I missed God.

The bottomless pocket in my life was the hole of missing God.

For years and years, I missed God.  For most of that time, I couldn’t have told you what I was missing.  I should have at least known that all the “somethings” I tried to fill the bottomless pocket with would not work, but I didn’t.  But I did know that I kept getting lonelier and more panicked because of the missing seam.

Missing someone can feel like the worse thing in the world.  But the truth is, it isn’t.  There is something far worse:

Not missing someone who you really should.

If I didn’t miss my father, something would be wrong.  If I hadn’t missed my best friend, I couldn’t have really called her my best friend.  And how could I say I want to spend the rest of my life with Ben if I never cared that he was 18 hours away?

Missing God is good, too.

Missing God means that we know He’s not walking in the Garden with us anymore–nor are we in the Garden of Eden.  Missing God means we know, in our hearts, that we sin, and that it is our evil that keeps us away from God.  Missing God means we hurt for the severed relationship.

As bad a feeling as it can be to miss Ben, I wouldn’t take the feeling away if I could.  I want to miss Ben.  Because I miss Ben, I want to be near him.  Since Ben paid for the plane ticket for me, I don’t have to worry about paying for the ticket myself.  I can go see him in Pennsylvania this summer.  Until then, I can talk to him and read his messages to me.  But for me to go this summer, I have to receive the ticket from him–and I will!

God wants us to miss Him.  When we miss Him, we want to be near Him.  Since God has paid for our sin for us through Jesus, we don’t have to worry about paying for our sin ourselves (which we can’t do).  We can go see Him in Heaven when we die.  Until then, we can talk to Him and read His Message (the Bible) to us.  But we have to receive the ticket from Jesus.

I have found the seam to my bottomless pocket.  That seam is sewn only by Jesus Christ.  Though this life has many pockets, the one pocket I don’t have to have is the bottomless one.  Because I have given my life to Jesus Christ–who has paid my debt with His life–I never have to miss God again.

I never have to miss God again.

That’s one pocket . . that’s been closed.

My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming.” (Psalm 27:8, NLT)


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