I was driving down the road, jamming to the radio with all four kids in the back. Kelly Clarkson’s “Piece by Piece,” started playing. I started crying. My kids can’t understand why I love the song when it makes me cry. I’m glad they don’t understand, but it breaks my heart that one day I know they will.
I don’t share what I know of Kelly Clarkson’s back story. The song doesn’t describe my story. What gets me is the theme. The deep heartbreaks of life and the redemptive healing power of love.
We all have our stories. Mine was when I was a young teen trying to deal with things that rocked me to my core. My mom has always been there for me. Always. I also had two best friends, along with some other great friends, who hung around even when I was NO fun and had no words to explain what was going on. They loved me when I couldn’t love myself. The worst was yet to come, though.
In my late twenties, I struggled with postpartum depression after the birth of my daughter and then again after my twins were born. The second round was extreme. I’m not talking about “baby blues,” I’m talking about real postpartum depression. I’ve had depression before and this is a completely different animal. To make matters worse, there were things from my past that I’d never dealt with that came to the surface. It was horrible. However, God put people in my life that I needed. I had a family member who stayed at my house to help me with all four of my kids until I got better. I had a friend that consistently came over just to spend time with me. When the medicine the doctors put me on ballooned my weight out of control, my sweet friend was there to tell me that no matter how big I was, I had a beautiful face, so it didn’t matter. Again, my mom was a constant who was there as much as I needed her. And there was my husband……. He didn’t understand what I was going through, but he tried to support me in every way he could. He manned up and took up my slack. For the first time, he got up with the twins at night so I could get my sleep and get better. He took care of the kids and the house. No matter how big I became, he still told me that I was beautiful. Every. Single. Day. However, when I got better and I was pulling my own weight again taking up all my responsibilities and laughing and joking once more, I thought, “This is it. He’s gonna walk now that I’m alright.” He had seen me at my very worst and I was sure my illness had damaged his love for me. It didn’t. I overheard him on the phone with someone one day. He said, “She’s back. My wife is back!” It wasn’t just what he said, but how he said it. It was like his very existence depended on mine. I cried.
Love can be a powerful emotion, but the effects of actively loving another human being are even more powerful. They’re redemptive and healing. These people who have poured love into my life and filled the cracks in my heart will always have a piece of it. They earned it and it’s theirs.
Feeling “loved” is great, but experiencing love is a completely different story. There’s a reason Jesus says loving others is only second to loving God.
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” And, He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and prophets.”