“I Love You, Princess”

I don’t particularly fancy being called ‘Princess.’ I don’t actually very much like pet names in general, but that one specifically calls to imagination frills and sparkles and horrifyingly dramatic tendencies. In all honesty, it’s not something I have to think about or deal with on a regular basis, as no one I know ever calls me by it – all but one – and the first time he said it, I have to admit, I was a bit taken aback. It was my Uncle Dallas, Christmas Day of 2006. My dad had just left our family, though at the time we didn’t know it was for good, and as the holiday festivities wound down for the day, Uncle Dallas wrapped me up in a great big bear hug and whispered in my ear, “I love you, Princess.” Almost before I could even register the words, tears were stinging my eyes, threatening to spill over. This one word was all it took to remind me that I was precious and treasured; that I had someone looking out for me even as I watched my world fall apart.

Another world fell apart this week as Uncle Dallas was taken suddenly to be with his beloved Lord and Savior. One day it’s life as usual and the next he’s gone, leaving behind the beautiful memories and shattered hearts of those who love him most. It’s got me thinking an awful lot this week, about an awful lot of things: About the frailty of life that I still take for granted – I see death far too frequently here in Karamoja, and it’s no less devastating, but it is tragically less shocking. I’ve thought about the things I left unsaid, and the last “I love you, Princess” I missed at Christmas while here in Uganda. I’ve longed to hug and sit and cry with my family, to tell stories and recount ‘remember when’s’ together, and I’m glimpsing what it is to grieve from afar. I’ve been humbled, once again, with the reminder of just how very helpless we are, and along with so many who have traveled through the valley of loss, I can’t help but ask, “God, why?” Why now? Why him? We still need him here.

I guess what it really comes down to is faith; to the time old trials and lessons we’ve learned over and over again. Do I truly believe that my God knows the plans He has for me, plans to give me peace and hope and a future? Can I rest in the promises that He is Good, that He will never leave me nor forsake me, and that one day He will wipe away every tear from my eyes? Do I trust Him when He says I can take joy in tribulation, this tribulation, because He’s using it to draw me closer and make me more like Him?

Can I believe those promises for my family as well?

I don’t know why, but that last question is far harder for me than the rest, it just always has been. I’ve been through just enough in even my short life thus far to know the Lord takes each and every of my heartaches and turns them into holiness. He brings about joy through pain, comfort in sorrow, beauty from ashes. But when it comes to the people I care most deeply about, somehow my heart forgets the refining that comes only through fire and longs for nothing more than to remove the pain entirely. It’s a whole different type of surrender – to relinquish the control I never actually had to ease their pain, and to trust that The Lord still has only the very best – far better than I could imagine – in store for each broken heart. That knowledge is the light at the end of this dark tunnel; a glimmer of hope and a promise that we will make it out of this darkness and one day be able to look back and see how He carried us.

But I also think there’s a special beauty in the sadness; that the joy that comes in the morning is more blessed because of the pain in the night. So while I know the dawn is coming, today it’s ok that the ache is still all too real. Today the tunnel feels impossibly long and each step forward impossibly hard. Today it’s ok just to sit in the loving arms of the great Comforter and long for the reunion where I’ll again hear my uncle say, “I love you, Princess, welcome home.”

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~ by eileendekker on January 16, 2015.

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