Empty Tomb No More

Recently I wrote about Being Stuck at the Empty Tomb, New Perspective hopelessly out of reach. Rarely have I gotten what I asked for so quickly. Maybe it was my utter devastation, my complete lack of direction. Maybe I was just empty enough to listen finally, to hear the whisper of the Holy Spirit tell me to open my Bible to the book of Romans. I did and what I found was perspective, the exact thing I was seeking. I don’t have easy answers but I have a new outlook, sometimes that is all it takes to start the day anew, to find the energy for a shower , to make lunch, to go smell the flowers.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” How many times have I heard that haunting call of Jesus at the cross, always considering the agony of Jesus dying to humanity, the burden of our meanness and judgments and horrible behavior requiring that he suffer the worst that we may experience the best? I haven’t ever stopped to imagine what God must have felt, to be separated from His Son in that moment. Yes, He knew the outcome, He knew how long it would last, but He also knew that in the deepest darkest moment when His child needed Him, He could only remain close but not fix it all, make it better, stop the destruction. I am horrified to realize that my sinfulness caused God to be separated, even for an instant, from His Son.  I also realize that God fully understands the agony of an estranged parent. He gets that pain of one left alone while sin runs rampant and destroys the family. He knows the only way to restoration and redemption is to be rejoined with Him. All this time while I thought I was suffering alone, begging God to return these children to me, He was saying, “Lisa, I want them to come home to me as well.”

I was drawn to the book of Romans today and as scripture so often does, the words jumped off the screen to me, they were alive.  I read the first chapter and was shocked to see that this new estrangement epidemic was not so new after all. Paul wrote about it: “They keep inventing new ways of wrecking lives. They ditch their parents when they get in the way.” Romans 1:30 I have wondered how my Stella could reconcile such a hard heart with what is preached in church each Sunday, I know my Arrow has stepped far away from his Christian faith. Before either of them can be returned to me, they must return to God. After all, they were His first. His agony must be horrific, to see His children so far away from knowing Him, believing and trusting in Him. In my weakest moments, I thought God had left me in this misery, I missed that we were suffering together.

My new perspective changes nothing in my relationship with my children, or lack of one. What has altered though is my closeness with God. No longer battling with Him, feeling lost in questions about why spring can come again but not my daughter, I understand now that the flowers bloom and the birds chirp as we together look for hope that they too will see those and hear those and remember that He is the creator of all. As my daughter shows the buds of new life to her daughter, surely she is explaining about the God who delivers anew our second chances and forgives us. As my son prepares to welcome into the world his daughter, can there ever be a more spiritual moment than that? Surely they are facing opportunities to find Him again and then they can find me. Perspective, I see you.

I know now that my prayers are not that God might hear me, that He might see my pain and my worry and that He might bring about the change NOW!!! How many times have I moaned that I cannot go on? How many times have I called out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He has been with me all along, the separation only in my mind. No longer helpless or powerless, I am united with a mighty God who can bring these children home, home to Him. Restoration to the greater family of Christ, then to ours. Together then we will smell flowers and feed birds and laugh and go to church and praise a God who loves us enough to give us the hope of spring days during dark winter moments. Now I join with God to pray that they grab hold of the faith of their youth, that they turn back to Him.

My new perspective, not from a bottle or the store but waiting for me in scripture all along. Psalm 62 reminds me: 5Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. 6Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

Do you see the lilacs bursting on the bushes, the breeze bringing the sweetness of spring into every open window, filling our homes with soul lifting hope? Can you hear the songbirds, as they busily seek twigs and strings, preparing to build nests and lay eggs and carry on with life, fulfilling their purpose? We won’t be shaken today friends, if we stay steadfast in our unity in the Creator of all. My new perspective is quite an old one, sometimes I misplace it in the dark. Blessedly, God shines some light and doesn’t let me get too lost. I trust He will do the same for those I love.

I Will Wait

Sometimes our heroes aren’t those who have come before us. They don’t wear capes or turn colors.  Maybe they don’t do  a single magnificent thing but rather millions of small everyday things, to remind you of what character and integrity look like. 

My hero is my daughter.  Born on the United States Marine Corp birthday, just missing reveille by a few minutes and her  due date by 3 weeks, she has forever set her own schedule. Testing out of 19 credit hours upon entering Purdue, she graduated in 3 1/2 years rather than waste time:  our “always late” girl.  She never feels rushed, never moves quickly.  Rather she absorbs her environment then records it on a canvas with little effort.  If she likes a song, she teaches herself to play it on her piano.  Find a craft she can’t do, she will figure it out and put a new spin on it.  Build a desk, sew a costume, program my tv, she can fix anything.  Fix everything.  She doesn’t like to cook, growing up with a restaurant in the family she has great food safety knowledge and an uncanny ability to find someone, anyone to prepare food for her.  

Traveling and learning are as much of who she is as her beautiful green eyes, she eats information about other cultures and languages as if is feeding her very soul.  The respect and compassion she shows to other cultures was never more clear to me than when we traveled together in South East Asia.  I learned invaluable lessons about respectful traveling, brave adventures, and trust from her.  Her year in South Korea cemented her broad cultural respect and love of Asia.  She taught me to just go, whenever I have the chance, go. 

But the child who is now  25 as I prepare to celebrate 50 years in 2 months, who I have spent half of my life with, is so much more than this list.  Maybe because she was born on the birthday of the Always Faithful, she is the most loyal person I have ever met.  Loyal to any passion that takes her heart.  Loyal to all things, all people, all animals, all places, all words, all concepts, that touch her heart.  She won’t let go, she will be there regardless of distance or time in between.  The fierceness of her love, the calmness of her exterior, the determination in achieving her goals are hidden by a silly, wry often sarcastic sense of humor.  A wicked ability to remember and recite movie or tv lines, reciting them at the best moment, a focus on cat gifs and llama nonsense belie her true heart.  

This girl has stood the test of time, has fought her battles, has never had an easy road.  She had early pain that changed her course so you better believe she doesn’t accept yours as an excuse.  We have come to know she moves faster than anyone around, while she is sitting still.  Her brain never stops.  Her integrity won’t quit. She will make me laugh until I fall on the floor which no one else can do.  If you count her as a friend, you have been given a truly unique gift.  Hold on to it.  She will.  And Lord help us when her baby comes. That fierce love may only allow those in the inner ring of her trust to get near.  Happy Birthday, Sis.  you amaze me.  

I wrote those words 3 years ago, unaware that only a year later I would be ejected from her life. I would get one more chance to say Happy Birthday to my daughter and now two years of silence. Yesterday I woke up believing I had a meeting at church, that it was November 15, I had mentally skipped right over November 10. I knew it was coming of course, her gift and card sit on my dresser. I just for the first time ever shut it out. Until I looked at my phone and received a shock, like that first contraction that you knew would happen but still seemed so far off, so unexpected. It changes your world with the intrusion, the demand for attention. You begin to breathe differently, look for the next wave.

I sat through my contractions again yesterday, I focused on breathing and made it through each wave of my heart tightening, knowing that I would not experience the joy at the end. Yet no amount of silence from her can deny the truth of our connection, can deny that on this day especially, we both celebrate. She allowed me to begin wearing my most coveted title, “mom” as my first born. I have refused to relinquish it, I won’t ignore 26 years of laughter and tears and hugs and bedtime rituals and phone calls and packing and unpacking and all the joys that go into loving a child. I will love her forever, await the day that my phone rings and her voice, oh God, her voice is what I hear. I will wait for the day when I come home and find her on the couch, in the kitchen, sleeping upstairs. I will wait. Because I know who she is, I am her mother.