Hearing Their Voices

A dear friend of mine invited me to join her in an Advent study this month, so my time with the Lord has been directed by the hands of a curriculum over the last few days instead of my usual method of reading through a book one bit at a time. The change has been good for me. Yesterday, I played catch up after the ice storm that “entombed” North Texas (as one meteorologist put it) disrupted my usual schedule for a few days. While my husband spent about 48-hours on-shift, the kids and I spent our days at my parents’ house.

During my catch up yesterday, I read several passages of Scripture promising the coming Messiah as well as one that encourages us to love each other with the love of Christ (1 John 4:7-8). After hand copying the passage into my journal, I started to make some observations that ended up melting into application. The words poured out of my pen the way stories often do. There was a desperation to scratch them out, so I did, and then I closed in prayer and went to bed without thinking much more of it.

Then, this morning, I shared some snippets about the Advent readings in our group and found myself rereading those observations and applications in my journal. As I read those last words I had scrawled across the composition book late last night, I realized that they were someone’s words spoken aloud a very long time ago. I typed them up and shared them in a Facebook status, this time listening more closely so that I heard the rhythm and all of what this person had to say. What I typed ended up a bit different from what is in my journal:

There is a love that is stalwart and sacrificial. It hurts to the point of death and then keeps loving with all the fury of our righteous God who requires a holiness that is unspeakably beautiful and breathlessly rich. This love straps on work clothes and can hardly clean the dirt from beneath her fingernails before she plunges back into the muck to fight it out again with that wretched old liar who attacks with the relentless bloodlust only the killer of men’s souls can possess. This kind of love refuses to give in. It persists beyond the end of all things. It clings and heals and nourishes. It sustains. This kind of love is much more than I could begin to give, but that don’t keep me from letting it flow through me. It ain’t my love that you feel, child. It’s His.”

I finished, and I couldn’t discern initially whose words they were, but I knew that I know the person and that I’ve known this person for a long time. I heard Addie’s voice, but they weren’t her words. She was quoting someone else. Someone she loved very much. And then I knew. It was her. It was Grandmother Patience with her back beat into furrows from Elias Beckett’s whip. Grandmother Patience who bent to serve those who broke her.

I don’t know if these words will ever appear in a story or a book, but they are in Addie’s heart, and they are the blood in her veins. These words are why she loves Lydia and Hal and all the rest with such tenderness and fierceness. It isn’t her love that pours out on them. It’s His.

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