The Love You Didn’t Get To Keep

A few weeks ago I sat down with Holley and Suzie to chat about letting ourselves be loved in our Facebook Live broadcast. Walls became part of our topic so quickly, probably because we all have them or had them. Holley said something profound that has echoed in my heart since then.


“Maybe it’s not about taking down our walls but having a gate.”


Something inside of me relaxed and welcomed that thought. Gates can be opened. Gates can be shut. The door of my heart can remain open even when love hurts a little but it’s up to me to decide. Guarding our hearts isn’t giving others the cold shoulder, but stewarding our heart’s outflow.


“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23)


I have loved hard and walked away not getting what I wanted. Walls became wounds that I had to deal with while giving myself room to grieve the “what ifs.”


Sometimes when I miss him most, I flip through old pictures and remember what it was like loving someone I knew I couldn’t keep. I tried to recall those moments of uncertainty wondering if I would be a good mother to a son, I was so terrified that I wouldn’t be.


This was years ago.


It was four months of being unstable, crying a lot, and wondering what we had gotten ourselves into. Four months of fighting and doing our best to protect him. Four months of falling so madly in love that it made no difference that my skin wasn’t stretched out from carrying him for nine months like I did my girls.


I had different kinds of stretch marks, ones that expanded my heart after I took the walls down. Time may run out, but love worth having lasts forever even if it’s only the memories that linger instead of the actual relationship.


I would wrestle with my man-child and then kiss him on the lips. And one night when all three of our kids were asleep, finally, I looked at my husband and said, “He’s my son”.


Everything about loving him scared me senseless. He was a flight risk and I knew it. Once again I felt that risky, head-over-heels love that wrecks you. The one that leaves you forever marked. Memories swirl around me as I watch a little boy slurping down his chocolate milk with his mom at a coffee shop with tables that are too tall for me. I stare at the boy three years older than the one I loved. I smile and hurt simultaneously because he was worth the risk. I never really understood the mother-son relationship before. But, I do now. I only had four months to fall in love hard and walk away without my pint-size prince. I get it now.


They smell differently, it’s a mixture of wet puppy, wildness, and dirt. They love differently. They destroy things and leave a trail letting you know exactly where they have been. And when the mess is gone, you miss it. I know it sounds strange because I like things orderly and in place. But, I miss his mess. But I don’t miss the chaos, court dates, and multiple people wanting to infringe on our safe-haven. All I wanted was him. Throw out all the dreams I had and my career finally starting to go somewhere without interruptions, nothing else compares to my deepest desire to mother my children. Nothing else matters.


I used to stand him on my legs, his hands in mine and sing, “One Day My Prince will Come.” At only eighteen months he said very little, but he knew the song and would smile and sway as we did our special waltz.


One day my prince will come and he did. And then he left.


We had found out about our little man a couple weeks prior; his mom was at a crossroads so we met with her to discuss her options, adoption being one of them. I was in shock when she called on a Sunday afternoon asking us to take him. By Tuesday we were starting the process of adoption. It was unheard of, but the family found us and felt like we were his hope for having a different life. He was dropped on my doorstep with almost everything he owned fitting into two laundry baskets. With shaved head, only a shirt, and a diaper he was fourteen months old, beautiful, and broken.


Love fixed him and in the process, it changed everything within my heart and my family. We echoed the heartbeat of Christ, fighting for the orphan and the widow. It was selfless, laying down our comforts to welcome a love with so many issues that required so much attention.



But, then the storm hit and we handed him back just like she had handed him to us months earlier and drove off.



Depression hit our home hard as the smell of little boy no longer filled the house. I tried to hold it together because that’s what women do. My husband and girls needed me. As much as we all grieved, my man suffered the most from this loss. He was all in from the very beginning and was so hands-on with the little guy.


It was hard on our marriage.


It was hard on our hearts.


About a month later, my husband took me on a date and when he asked me where I wanted to go I said, “Anywhere that it doesn’t hurt.”


But, you can’t escape it or run away from it. You face it. So, that’s what we did. Together. Of course, I wish I could have handled things better with less fear and lower walls and fewer questions. But, I wasn’t on medication then.


I wish I would have told his mom that I was proud of her and hugged her tight like I did when I first met her and whispered to her that she didn’t have to give him up. But, I didn’t and that’s okay. I invited a silent storm to take over our space with court dates and play dates as I learned to live life less tidy. I learned how to play rough like little boys tend to and love soft throughout attachment issues while holding my breath until the paperwork said he was mine.


I would do it all again and do it better, or perhaps the same, and let love stretch my heart again and again.


I have decided to leave the lights on at the door of heart for messy people to come in and let me love them for a little while. But, doors and gates that close are okay, too, when needed. We can trust the Holy Spirit to lead us when people are a question mark.


Walls up or not, gate open or shut, only God knows the reasons why. Do your best to explore your pain, not ignore it. You might have doorless walls, no gate, or entry way. But, I promise you this…you are worth loving and someone wants and needs to be loved by you. God loves you and he knows why you have trust issues. But, you can trust Him. His love never leaves us, checks out, and it is never based on performance or conditions.


Much love,

Jennifer Renee


The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

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One thought on “The Love You Didn’t Get To Keep

  1. Jennifer That was such a good love story of you and alittle boy, life is full of unknowns ,that is why it’s so important to have God on our side. Thanks for sharing your hurting story with us. God is good. Love you and your wonderful family

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