How My Husband Stopped My Pity Party

As someone who has sought comfort in knowing, who has turned toward education when faced with challenges, I have become more and more aware that I have approached my faith as an intellectual construct. In this age of ready access to information, advisors only a few keystrokes away, I trust that I can find the answers I seek to any conundrum. I know now this has hampered my ability to sit in the waiting, sit with not knowing, sit with silence. I am far too often in my head, too little time is spent truly tending to my soul. Difficult truths lie there, answers do not come so easily, so quickly. This time of slowed thinking, minimal screen time, reduced stimulation from outside has forced soul searching, maybe more painful than the original concussions that  necessitated the rest. The knowledge I crave, the up-to-minute news and constant flow of viewpoints from strangers keep me distracted and I want that back, I want to be distracted from admitting that I am harboring questions that have no easy answers and truths that are painful and I am wondering about a God who allows me to keep heading out to the wilderness with my bag full of disillusionment and discontent. Wouldn’t I be a better beacon of hope to finally be able to say that I have managed the crisis and now wow look where we are? Where we are, indeed, I can hear God whisper. It is clearly too quiet in my world.

It is too quiet in my world when I can hear wisdom from my Chef. I don’t seek advice there, that is not our natural flow. I am the source of knowledge, a rude admission, but I am strive to be honest here. It isn’t that I don’t think he has much to share, he just doesn’t trust himself over me to share it. Yet in the space created by my slowed processing on a difficult morning when I ranted about my hurts and frustrations and outlined the litany of complaints I carried regarding the state of my relationships and where was God truly in any of this (can you hear my rant, it wasn’t pretty) my Chef said he thought it was about expectation and expectancy. I stopped. I listened. Those two words were powerful and  true and convicting. I didn’t like him much in that moment. Who likes to be told the truth about their sorry selves when they are throwing a particularly ridiculous self pity party and have invited others to wear hats and sing songs to our own woeful lives? Emperor, you are naked, I heard. In my most mature voice I reminded him he needed to go get ready for his Sunday School class.

Still, those words have echoed and reverberated and refuse to leave me alone. I have been bound up in expectation of God. I have a list of chores I would like Him to complete,  neatly labeled, outlined in order of importance. Much as if I were to hand a list to Plum, I expect results. My results. Like when I asked the kids to clean up the toy room after they trashed it and they said they did. When I inspected, it was a disaster by my standards. Of course they were long gone and I put everything where I wanted it and the room met my expectations again, they did not. I obviously wasn’t clear enough with them but I am positive I have been crystal clear with God. But what if I explored expectancy? Honestly, I would rather not. But the word is bugging me and the concept is sticking around so I am starting to open up my mind to the possibilities and that may be the point.

Rather than giving my list to God, what if I asked God for a list? I think I mostly have, I have been faithful to calls to action in various ministries yet I think there is more. What if His list says wait? That is ugly. What if HIs list says trust? Seriously, can’t I just do more works? I know James tells us faith without deeds is dead but what about deeds without…faith? Can I squeeze by? What if His list says sit in expectancy, knowing that I am God and you are you and I am handling ALL and you need to manage only what I put in front of you each day, each hour, each minute? Ah, I have reached the point where I always end up, sense of control, the battle that God and I have, except it is always only me wrestling and God watching and wondering when I will ever get tired enough to stop my nonsense. Friends, I think I am getting tired.

I can’t think my way out of this mess, I can’t find an answer on any message board or listen to a podcast that will tell me what I secretly already know. I have a choice to make, expectation or expectancy.  I’ll keep you posted. I wonder if you have found yourself comfortable in either of those camps, a tent erected, fire smoldering, s’mores at the ready. If you are where I need to be, send up a signal, I might need help out of this wilderness. Also, PLEASE do not tell Chef I said he was wise. We have a delicate balance, no need to upset things. In exchange, I promise to continue to share his insights. Be well, friends, may your day hold enough silence and restoration that you might open up your expectations to allow space for the unknown. Just a tiny bit for us scared ones.

 

The Truth about My Faith

When 9/11 happened, I was glued to the news for weeks, my tears and fears joining with all those across the world who felt the shock slip away as a new reality settled.  When Hurricane Katrina hit, I delved into the coverage and ached again with those who suffered, eventually adopting a dog who had been found swimming in the waters, full of parasites and stained fur from God only knows what he had encountered. Another hurricane has hit, tragic stories abound and I sit impassively, barely scanning the news, flipping through my twitter feed as images of horror mount. My husband has not so lovingly accused me of becoming cold, a charge I have incredulously argued against. Yet the surging waters have done little to reach me.  How did I come to be so disaffected?

My passions ignite for causes, I am active politically and I march for justice, but still I reserve my heart. Avoiding human interests stories, instead focusing on data as if my role has been to merely research and highlight anomalies, I engage from a distance. While I have not yet found words to convince my Chef and maybe even myself, I know somewhere within me lies the capacity to feel.  My pastor remarked that grief  builds up, like layers, doesn’t go away. We may move on but one more loss can take us right back to all those layers, all those losses. I understood what he meant, I knew those layers. Between each one was my feeble and often heroic attempt to begin anew, to rejoin a world that I trusted would not hurt me or betray me or take away what or whom I loved. A naive ideology that allowed me to restart but the trust was misplaced, the hope was  bargaining with a God who didn’t keep His end of the deal. Not only did another loss occur as it absolutely does in life but with it, my faith was eroded, becoming brittle, fragile until the only truth I knew was that I wanted to believe but trusted only myself.

Faith like the “praising in the storm” kind has not been an obstacle for me, but what about when the storm lifts and the rebuilding doesn’t happen, when all lies in ruins and mold begins to grow? I read again and again the story of Job who lost it all and didn’t lose his soul, who trusted in God that what he lost was not his in the first place. Job drives me crazy, this ridiculous man who doesn’t wallow and whine and give up and spend a year in bed. I am sure the lesson is there for me, if only I were stronger. Instead I have allowed the one sure thing that might actually buffet me from the winds and the rains to stay away and then I cry out that I cannot feel God even, I blame God for not returning my property and my people and giving me just one easy day. No, I cannot claim a faith the reaches deep within me and sustains me, I have bargained too many times and lost.

In my teens I began to read The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, philosophy that has greatly shaped my thinking. His words on sorrow and joy echo within me, I know these are my layers.

“Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”

The truth is that my Chef is right and so am I. I am cold and feelingless, my emotions buried in coffins with dead relationships and dreams for the future.  Yet I know that just as Jesus was resurrected and I do believe it was so, I know that my life blood would run warm again if only resurrection would come back into my life. I often wonder if God and I are playing a game of chicken with my sanity and my soul, seeing how much I have to lose before I fall on my knees in total surrender to Him. Poor theology, this vengeful image of God. I am not Job. Out of protection for all who enter my life, arms reach it is, a trick I play to ensure nobody gets hurt, maybe especially me. The flood waters are rising, the layers cannot absorb even another drop.

I know too the words of Emily Dickinson, “hope is the thing with feathers” and of course my favorite Maya Angelou quote: You may write me down in history, With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt, But still, like dust, I’ll rise.  Words meant to inspire and push me onward, not inward as I hide in my fortress, cold and alone. I have risen, I have risen indeed, but I have not accepted THE resurrection for me. The cost of fighting through the layers has indeed been steep. Empty of joy, surrounded by sorrow’s skeletons, I await the bird’s song of hope as a new day dawns. Is this the day I surrender? I know like the bird and the flood waters and the next big event, as sure as life happens and losses bring sadness, so too does God wish to walk with me. I know this. One day maybe again I can feel it.

Can We Become A Hurricane of Hope?

Hurricane Harvey has landed ashore during the same week the sun forced millions to lay down their phones and go outdoors. Is it coincidence that during these days of absolute political chaos when Washington has provided ever increasing evidence that our leader is not up to the task of caring for all the Americans under his wing that we are reminded that nature is fierce, fantastic, forceful? Are we not being pointed to a different leader who doesn’t abandon any during a crisis and speaks words of unification that can be found in the life and actions of His representative, Jesus, no need to wait for the next tweet or rally?  Love your neighbor, entertain angels, be still.  I would argue that as the world becomes crazier and more hate captures the headlines, Our God is bigger, stronger, more present than ever in the everyday interactions between real people. We are being invited to participate in saving not just Houston but our communities.

As millions face the devastating losses that are sure to follow in the wake of the Harvey, we  all have the opportunity to show our best selves. America is amazing at rising to these challenges, donations to charities surge with the water and churches across the country ready their teams of builders and cleaners who swoop in, skin color of recipient  never a question. Yet smaller floods of pain and worry swirl within our own communities, losses that break the backs and hopes of people who ride the bus with us, roofs of sorrow at mounting debt from healthcare for our elderly  and our addicted cave in on those who sit at our lunch table. Children with no books in their homes or homes to carry their books to, communities of color that have been targeted by an unjust war on drugs as surely as if the eye of the hurricane landed within their neighborhood, all across America. We are surrounded by hurting people, everyday. Can we see them, without a catastrophic natural event?

Our better angels tell us to rush to Houston, to text money to the Red Cross, to support all the relief efforts. As the waters subside and the rebuilding begins, as the news cycle seeks out the next big event, I urge us all to keep listening to the angels. Those stories that fill us with hope, the boys in boats rescuing others stranded by the waters, the folks who find animals left behind and reunite them with owners, we can be those stories. We can be the next flood that covers our community with hope and after school snacks and a chance for a future. Hurricanes are rain droplets, one joined with another, strengthened by wind, all concentrated on a goal. What if we became a hurricane in our community, one connection at a time that grows from a rain shower of love into a tropical storm of generosity into a hurricane of hope and acceptance? We have a leader who has set this very example for us, who has asked us to love our neighbor.

As we sit frustrated by our inability to go rebuild houses in Houston, our desire to help pushing us and we aren’t sure what to do, listen. Those angels are telling us to go, to get out of our comfort zones and talk to someone who is hurting and needs our assistance.  Houston is all around us, hurting is everywhere, together, we can bring on healing waters.

Why We don’t Pee in the Dog Pool

I saw a picture the other day of a vacuum cleaner that was still going strong after 40 years. Hundreds of comments were posted, admiring the beauty of this old machine that  with general maintenance and some loving acceptance of the noise it generates has lasted even with daily use. Many comments noted that memories of visits to grandma’s house include that equipment, nostalgia trips that felt cozy and stable during current unsure times. I was left wondering what future generations will recall of visits to grandma, what will be the lasting impression when our society has accepted the concept of disposability. Our mantra:  broken? buy a new one. New model has arrived? Get in line for the first release. I can see that this is where we lost the ability to offer grace, to be humble people,  to seek forgiveness. We have internalized the disposable ideology to include relationships with spouses, children, employers, most importantly with our Creator.

Babies learn object permanence between 4-7 months old. We are designed to spend, shy of a few months, the entirety of our lives understanding that just because we cannot see something, it still exists. We are created to look for what we know is missing, to seek out what was just in front of us, to search for what we know to be true.  To learn object permanence, stability must exist, same items around the house, the table in the same room every day, constancy of environment. When something breaks and we change up, we are teaching our children that broken means bad and new is better and then wonder why they whine at the store for a toy every time. No we did that, with our new phones and better watches and nicer shoes and fancier cars, with a new toaster and blender and vacuum. What could we teach them and remind ourselves if we leaned into the space of brokenness, if we struggled to fix what has stopped working?

I see broken people all around these days, marchers who are filled with hate and friends who post about hurting with depression, parents who are struggling to pay for school supplies and marriages that are on their last breathes. What if we stuck with each other in that broken place, what would that look like? I know I have worked hard to teach Plum personal responsibility, the old “you break it, you buy it” mentality. Just yesterday he went outside with me in the early morning, straight out of bed, no stopping for a potty break. He loves to pee outside among the bushes. I know, another post, different responsibility. Still, he got some wild idea to pretend he was one of the dogs and go about  the yard marking his territory, leaving his scent. Early morning, secluded yard, cover of darkness, all good until he chose to pee in the dog pool. Yes, that is where I drew the line. The dog wading pool where our beasts go to cool off after many romps across the grass catching the ball, chasing each other or just relax during the heat of the day. HE peed in their pool. When I told him he had to empty and refill the pool, he claimed it was an accident, he said it would be too hard to empty it, he looked for any way to slip out of his responsibility for the wrong doing. No matter, even if it had been unintentional which being half an acre away from the indoor plumbing we have graciously supplied for his bodily needs, several feet away from his normal hiding places in the bushes, the guilt was his. He aimed, he peed, he must fix. “But gran, it is too hard!”  Indeed.

As I watched him pull bucket after bucket from the urine infused water, I knew he wouldn’t do that again. He would not only chose more carefully what to destroy but also appreciate that we show respect for the belongings of others, that we fix what we destroy. Much like when he was attempting to throw tantrums early on, I allowed him to do so in his own room with his toys, encouraging him to break his things which would not be replaced but setting the boundary that tantrums and destruction would not be allowed in common areas. Incredulously, he told me he didn’t want to break HIS things! Of course not, and neither did I want to sacrifice mine. Thus, no tantrums. Patience, persistence comes in that very fixing, the moments or hours devoted to nothing else but concentrating on righting a wrong. Grace meets us in those places, when we are repentant, straining muscles of our own ego, dedicating ourselves to the task of restoration of another, to the parts we broke. Rushing the task like buying a new pool or for me to clean it out for him, speeds us on through our encounter with the Holy Spirit, our opportunity to ask for forgiveness and receive it.

We have broken the backs of our brothers and sisters of color, we have broken boundaries within our marriages, we have allowed children to be hungry and parents to struggle to provide even as they work 40 hours, we have hurt each other. Until we accept responsible and stop shifting blame, looking for wiggle room that eases our conscience and lets us zoom into new relationships without fixing what has been broken within the old ones, we are continuing to miss our own encounters with God. We cannot fast forward to the good parts, we cannot have memories of grandma’s long lasting sweeper if we don’t repair the hose along the way.  Those encounters with grace, those times we have restored what is broken, when we have admitted our own broken selves to another, fessed up to our sins, well, just like anything it gets easier the more you do it. A skill practiced, a habit built. Given my own history, I cannot hide behind false pretenses, say I didn’t do it, it wasn’t me. My sin is out there, yet it makes it even easier to confess more and more when I am wrong, to admit when my own impulses led me to pee in the pool. Further, the gift of grace that I receive so lovingly pushes me to share, I want everyone to feel those sweet moments that come from a cleansed soul, the relief of restoration, coming closer again to God rather than hiding in darkness and shame. Grace is an investment God has made in me, one He urges me to make in others. But first must come confession.

Friends, have you hurt someone? Like a crystal heirloom vase you knocked over as you raced through the day, it cannot be swept under the rug and ignored without cutting someone’s feet. Go get that sweeper, fix the mess, own up to what you have done, make restitution.  It won’t be easy, it may take time away from other fun exciting events, you may have to listen to the vase owner’s hurt and disappointment for longer than you wish. Still, stick with it. Grace will find you right there. The alternative is just more brokenness, more pools filled with pee, more cut feet, more hurting people. Shall we work on restoring, shall we remember to value what we have, can we commit to just a bit less disposing of what really matters? Lets take some tender time with each other and listen as the Holy Spirit guides toward grace. All the best memories reside right in that place.

 

Choosing to Seek Wholeness

Last night I attended a meeting of friends at church who want to do more, be more, reach out more into our community. We began, as all meetings begin, with introductions, we asked why we each were there, what drew us to become interested in this emerging prison ministry at our predominantly all white highly educated upper middle class church. As each person spoke, I waited for my turn and mustered my courage to share that I was not just a friendly observer but a participant in the prison system, I knew personally the impact of a felony record. I have come far in the last couple of years. The distance, this journey is due in large part by the healing words of one Steve Wiens. I have written  here and here and here about how my friend Janet picked me up, got me out of bed after a severe bout of depression and introduced me to this guy from Minnesota who blogs, has a podcast and was then sending out the first chapters of his first book, Beginnings. He spoke straight into my soul, he breathed the Holy Spirit into me, he told me to try again, that I was more. I now call him my friend, a great honor to be in relationship with him. Friends, he has written a new book and I want you to know and hear and see him! He brings healing to us broken people.

I cannot lie and say I am fully invested in his new book, Whole, because I am still living into Beginnings. I wish I were ready to move on to fresh words and exploring more deeper healing for all my broken places. His words bring that. I may be about a year away from that, I see the richness he offers. I know this guide book is there when I am at that place. Words like, “We actually need to be liberated from the old place to keep ourselves from bringing it along with us to the new place.”  That is scary stuff for me, this letting go and trusting. Am I ready to dive in and accept this journey of wholeness or stay in the exploration of my brokenness a while longer? I feel him pulling me, into a deeper trust relationship with this Jesus guy and I am resisting. The first step is admitting you have a problem, right? Yet I trust Steve, he is laying a path out of the wilderness when I am done wandering, when I am finished whining about manna and my slavery.

Steve writes, “Seeking wholeness is always about leaving one place and going somewhere else. It requires movement. It’s almost always painful, and very often you don’t really know where you’re going until long after you leave.”  I know too from my immersion in his earlier words in Beginnings that I am choosing to be stuck there, maybe I am resting there, in the passing of seasons and the acceptance of new growth and seeds and facing my monsters. Still he offers, “One of the most courageous things you will ever do is to turn away from shame and return to the face of God, where you will find oceans of mercy.” Steve has gently beautifully held me as I have made my turn, propped me up as I courageously accepted my past and spoke my history aloud in that meeting last night, sharing that my passion for prison ministry was personal. With each step, I AM becoming WHOLE, growing into my relationship with God. It is possible his newest book is sneaking into my walk with tiny nudges and whispers of restoration in spite of me.

Friends, are you seeking a new beginning? Are you looking for a path out of the wilderness? Let me introduce you to my friend Steve. He brings wisdom and clarity and peace to these troubled times, but be prepared to have your life altered. He is not content to leave you where he finds you. Don’t we all need friends like that?

Find more about his new book at Whole, his podcasts here, and find him on Facebook, Twitter Instagram or go visit his church like I did. I am telling you, the man is accessible, real, honest and with us on this journey. Wanna get going? Let’s do this!

Solitary

How My Friend Woke Up

With every mention of the change in her apartment complex, the sly skirting of any true honest words like African-Americans or black people, choosing rather to imply that things were “just going downhill,” I had cringed and sought to find a path towards understanding. For months she had shared the concerns of many white’s with limited exposure to actual people of color and excess involvement with internet sites and biased news, societal depictions of bad guys in black so pervasive she didn’t even realize her perceptions were tainted. I wondered aloud if these kids she worried were doing drugs had shown evidence of that or were just skateboarding like the other boys? The little ones who played without supervision, how much did she watch her child outside, how much did any of the other parents? Blessedly her boy played, shared snacks and raced about the parking lot with all of the kids, regardless of skin color, more interested in Pokemon battles and squirt gun fights where he is almost always the one who gets shot because he loves to fall down dramatically.

“I was wrong,” she said to me yesterday. Huge important words that we all must be willing to say, to speak out loud to another person who will hear us and not let us go peacefully back into our ignorance but say yes, child you were and now lets go forward, one more step. The horrific events of Charlottesville and the aftermath of a leader who cannot find a unifying message of condemnation for hate to bring hope and healing has at the very least brought this young woman further along on her own journey. She told me that she worried when she let her child go outside, what could happen when he played with these children of other colors. She didn’t mean to be racist, but her own history of substance abuse was adding prejudice, coloring and distorting who the bad guys were. Missing the irony that she herself had once been the very person she now feared, she fell into the us vs. them trap. No more, she vowed. She asked for ways to gain more information, she wanted some way for a mom at home to be active yet safe. Her big steps in attitude gave me the hope the president failed to provide.

“I know now that while I feared for my son to go outside, they fear everyday. They are probably afraid of me!! They fear everywhere. I was afraid of them, they are always afraid, wondering what could happen to their children at school, on the bus, who might say something or do something. My God, that is horrible!” I listened, I cried, I offered support as she shed her own hate like the robes and shields and white hoods we have all worn to some extent. White privilege allows us to choose when to get into the battle, when to go back home to our safe neighborhoods and schools and return to our lives, until the next rally or vigil or sense that the violence might be reaching into our spaces. After all, how many of us were truly outraged when Philando Castile was killed? Was it the loss of Eric Garner? Michael Brown? Freddie Gray? Laquan McDonald? Alton Sterling? My God, wasn’t the killing of Tamir Rice enough to wake us? Yet no, it required the streets to be crawling with proud young men spewing hate, unfurling flags of bigotry and taking the life of a young white woman, threatening a synagogue, for America to grasp the horror that has permeated communities of color for decades. Still, collective awakening from comfortable illusions means we are now joining with our sisters and brothers, tagging in with sheepish faces knowing we hold guilt and our own shame and yet must act or accept more of the same, an unconscionable choice. What grace we are given, those of us who come so late to the game, and yet still we are invited in, we have to come in, we hold the power of privilege. So I listened and shared books and action steps and carried this newly woken friend along as she wept her shame into the phone.

Accepting our role in voting for a man who was supposed to bring jobs but instead has wrought divisions and fear, facing exactly what it means to be free, the responsibility required of us all to ensure that very freedom reaches everyone within our borders, regardless of color or ethnicity or gender or who we love, we are waking up, one white American at a time. Integrated apartment complexes where children of all colors swap a Jigglypuff for a Pikachu and race on bikes long into a summer evening, where the only hoods worn are those of batman and spiderman as shouts of little boys fill the air, this is how we ensure a different future.  And phone calls to someone who hears us say we were wrong, this is the first step. Many steps will follow, but we have to begin with this brave honest self-evaluation. Our future depends on it.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

 MARTIN NIEMÖLLER

Unfurl

What I Have Learned from the Tooth Fairy

It has been a week since I was forcibly pulled from my routine, slowed from commitments and chores and larger responsibilities to rest my brain from another concussion in only two months, this time after being rear-ended by a bus. I am not healed fully yet, I am still supposed to avoid screens and allow my eyes to look at apparently nothing beyond flowers and butterflies. I hate not being able to read constantly, I hate not being able to write daily. I want my life back, I want my schedule returned, with maybe a few adjustments. Yet the events of the past week have made clear that taking time to see those flowers and smell them as well, to be completely present as my Plum heads into first grade with time to notice all the changes this summer has brought, this time is a gift. Much like the wand that the tooth fairy left him last night, sometimes the best gifts are tiny, filled with magic that I miss. I am often too busy to notice them. More often than not, I need a major shift in my universe to clear my thinking and sharpen my vision.

My Plum has held on to his first loose tooth for many months, avoiding letting go of the inevitable. He was afraid of the pain, freaked out about losing what was clearly part of his body. Even as a new tooth sprouted up behind this wobbly baby tooth, he refused to follow the wise words of all around him, he wouldn’t wiggle it. He chose to eat around it, then began to choose soft foods to ensure he didn’t bump it. Finally nature prevailed and last night his tooth was hanging on by a literal thread. Reaching for a bit of gauze, I asked once more to feel how loose it was. One tiny tug and out it came. His relief filled the room, he rushed to look in the mirror, a spontaneous hug came my way and the decision was made that I am in charge of extracting all future teeth. As he slept the tooth fairy visited, bringing delightful gifts I had purchased over a year ago from an Etsy shop in preparation. Today he is twirling the wand she left behind and reading his note again and again, glorying in his elevation to “big boy.” I realize as I often do, I can learn from him.

I know I hang on to my own “loose teeth,” those things and people and roles in my life that need to be released, even as new growth is trying to emerge. I am fearful, anxious about the pain, I want to keep it all. My own “row of shark teeth that will ensure braces” and corrective measures later, even greater pain and discomfort, yet tightly I grip. I don’t wiggle and bite hard onto life, I avoid risks. I will never find my own little wand under my pillow, no notes congratulating me on moving forward in life if I stay stuck in what is so evidently not meant to be. My Plum believes I am strong and sure enough to always remove his loose teeth, he doesn’t know how scared I really am to remove what has already separated, what is trying to move away, in my life. What if I gave one good tug and accept that freedom, that relief? Like my best boy,  I recoil at the thought and stick to soft foods and easy choices and wallow in the misery of limbo. Not quite attached, not quite gone.

I fell asleep thinking of all the firsts I have experienced with this child. I bottle broke him, taught him to sleep through the night, potty-trained him. I took him to his first day of preschool (I sat outside the room the entire time, what understanding teachers he had!). So many more, I have lost track, some terrible and some amazing, but still he trusts me when on any precipice, when he is ready to take a big jump, he knows I will catch him if he falls. My love for him is limitless, truly accepting of even his worst days and we have those. What would it feel like to be loved like that? Actually, what would it feel like to trust that love, because I do have it, I merely need to accept it. I have a parent who loves me this deeply, who wishes to help me be free of old ways and long held beliefs that no longer serve me, to be cut loose from bonds that restrict growth and offer the relief of painful grasping onto relationships that no longer fit my life. I have that love, if only I would trust as surely as my Plum trusts me. How does he do it?

Step by step, time and again he has given me opportunities to prove that I will catch him, that I will not fail him. I don’t make promises I cannot keep. I say no when his safety requires, when he needs to rest and when vegetables are a better snack than candy. I stay up late to worry and pray while he sleeps. I don’t tug on loose teeth before they are ready, really really ready to come away. I bring new ideas and experiences into his world, allowing him to choose which he wants to grab as his. I hug him when he wants and needs and scoot further off when he wants some space. I don’t take offense when he vents his anger at me, I know his sweet words of apology will soon follow and that I am his safe place for all his feelings, even the not so pretty ones. Does my God do any less?

I know intellectually this is EXACTLY how my God loves me. All that is missing is my trust. How frustrating it must be, to have proven time and again His faithfulness and still, I resist allowing Him to catch me when I fall. During some rocky months of Plum’s past, when my relationship with him was being undermined, he didn’t trust me. It was awful. It broke my heart. I try not to remember those days, the pain of tiny acts of teaching him again that I am who I am. Yet I stayed true, little by little he let me back in to his own broken heart. God has never wavered, with big promises kept and little whispers of assurance that I can go on when I doubt. He always catches me when I fall which I do often. Rather than wishing for my own magic wand, accepting the love, trusting fully the One who is teaching me to love this child, that seems a better use of my quiet time. Step-by-step, wiggling ever closer, I am truly coming into relationship with God. Just as my patience with Plum knows no limits, fortunately God has given up on me yet.