“I opened for my beloved, but my beloved had left; he was gone. My heart sank at his departure. I looked for him but did not find him. I called him but he did not answer.” Song of Solomon 5:6 NIV
One of the hardest facts of life is that people move on. They may feel they’ve outgrown us or we them, or that there is too much distance or difference between us and them for any meaningful continuation of a relationship or friendship. Sometimes of course it is us doing the leaving behind.
Often these partings are the culmination of a slow demise, a difficulty communicating, or they may come after a break of trust. Other times it is a selfish move onto something or someone else who seems better, and we feel left behind, discarded, abandoned and alone, and often broken-hearted.
If we are abandoned and don’t see it coming, we can feel caught totally off-guard. It can feel like a catastrophe, as though the world were coming to an end. If it is the end of a marriage or relationship, it can also feel like a bereavement, as though half of us is missing. Like someone whose partner has died, we may well keep turning around to talk to someone who isn’t there. Devastated doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Some of us are abandoned by parents, either when very young, and put up for adoption, or later by needing to go into care. In the first case we probably don’t find out till later in life and have a great shock and a lot of questions to deal with, and in the latter, it must feel like the world has crumbled under our feet.
Even If we haven’t known any of these greater abandonments, we have surely all been left behind by someone we trusted or thought was our friend. However shallow or high the drop, the fall (not to mention the landing) is desperately hard. But perhaps at some point we can look back and see our abandonments with different eyes. Hindsight and time are great healers of course, so that is easier to do the longer it was ago. Maybe we can see a rescue or a release instead of a desertion. Maybe that relationship, that friendship or bad parenting was crushing us.
If I had not been abandoned myself many years ago, I might never have come to understand that greater and safer relationship in my life that I have with God. What a calamity that would have been! I will never make light of what I suffered in the aftermath of my heartbreak nor what any of us go through when we are cast aside, but I will begin to slowly and circumspectly rejoice that I have received instead a new heart, still scarred, but joined to my Lord, the living loving God of mercy who will never leave or reject me. To rejoice too in relationships that were made stronger in those years when I was at my most broken, and in the new ones that have come since.
It is certainly true that God can use all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose, as Romans 8:28 tells us. And we learn through these painful leavings and partings, whether of lovers or friends, that there is really only one person to be utterly relied upon, who will never leave us or forsake us.
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