I didn’t grow up in a Christian home, but I did grow up in an average American home in the 80’s and 90’s. Christianity was still woven into the everyday and wasn’t offensive in public. Christmas I knew was about Jesus but to me it didn’t extend beyond the cute little nativity set my mom painted and sold at craft fairs. Easter I knew was also about Jesus and his death but I didn’t understand that and I knew nothing about the resurrection. Most of what I learned about God came from the Andy Griffith Show (which came on CBS after my mom’s soap operas) and from the evangelical neighbors next door and their daughters who were determined to tell me about God.
Each day I’d head outside in the backyard to play. The neighbors would also play in their backyard everyday. They had a “real” playset straight out of a catalogue; needless to say I desperately wanted to play on their playset. I was terribly nosey and watched through a knot hole in the fence as they put the set together, each screw made me more envious. When the set was done at last the new neighbors emerged to play. I watched with curiosity; sure these girls must be rich and spoiled to have such an amazing thing in their backyard.
It took a few days of watching them for me to realize they seemed pretty normal. One girl was my age and the other was only a year and a half younger. They seemed like best friends, a strange concept for me since my own sister was so much older than me and was currently in middle school and wanted nothing to do with me. At last, on a whim, I climbed to the top of the fence peaked my head over and said hi. That was the beginning of a very fruitful friendship. Each day they’d play outside on their playset and I’d climb the fence, poke my head over and chat with them.
I don’t know how to put into words what I feel for you. There is a bitterness in your existence for me, yet I know I have at last come to forgive you. Like Job cursing the day of his birth I too cursed you praying you “would be in darkness, nor let God above care for you, nor let light shine on you” (Job 3:4). I was weak with my own pain, I wanted the darkness to seize you and yet it had somehow found it’s way inside of me. What good could come of this? What peace is there for the soul torn apart? What use is there in tears that fall silently in the night? My pain was great yet there was something greater still at work.
It took five long years of dreading your calendar day before at last a fog lifted and I came to realize I don’t hate you anymore. You can exist again. You can have peace because I finally have mine.
Six years ago I woke up and opened my eyes and I did not hate you, but that did not last long. It was shortly after waking up that I realized the little heart beating inside my belly had ceased. The agonizing denial lasted only a few days until the doctors confirmed what my body had already told me, Joshua was dead. Without ceremony he was gone almost as if he had never been there in the first place. But my heart knew as it broke in ways I couldn’t define or put into words. An emptiness I had never known swallowed me up from the inside out. I sat in sorrow by myself and consumed anger towards you until, without me noticing anger in turn consumed me.
I, who pride myself in my wordsmithing, could not find a way to express the anguish inside of me, nor to reflect on or do honor to the short lived life that had been inside of me. Even now, when I feel more joy and less sorrow for the life that was, have a hard time expressing what lies in my heart. I want to share what I feel even though the words aren’t graceful because I know there are others who have experienced the pain of loss who need to know, that if they can find a way to let it; sorrow can turn into joy. That is the greatest lesson I learned from that dark day, and the days to follow, that sorrow and joy - like the greatest of dancers - meet together as tears that gracefully give and take across the dance floor of your cheeks.
You are Forgiven,Cait
Sometimes when the kids get grounded they just have to sit an feel the pain of the punishment and other times they get the opportunity to earn back whatever it is they lost. The other day they were a mess at bed time, jumping on the bed, flickering the lights, spitting at each other… Do I need to go on? They got grounded from video games and friends for 3 days. Yesterday they had to feel the pain of that punishment, but today I gave them the opportunity to work it off. As we walked home from the bus they eagerly inquired about their punishment and learned they would have the ability to work it off, their friends were there.
We arrived home and 10 minutes later I hear a knock on the door, it was their friends. I kindly told them they’d have to wait until the kids were done with their extra chores and was shocked and surprised when they said they had heard and they were there to help. Man parenting is really hard sometimes. Of course I wanted to make my kids scrub the toilets and pull weeds on their own; this is a punishment and they need to feel the discomfort of it… But at the same time what a Godly picture of community and friendship it would be to let their friends come alongside them and shoulder the burden.
Today I let their friends help them because the beauty of such a gesture on their friends part was profound and overwhelming (I mean the boys bathroom that makes me gag, yuck!). Naturally we’ll be talking about all of this with the kids before bed time so they understand the weight of their friends’ offer and we can link it in their minds to biblical principles and because everything is a teaching moment even if school isn’t strictly at home anymore.
It was pretty cute to watch from a distance as they worked together to scrub toilets, wipe counters and cabinets, clean baseboards, and sweep and mop each bathroom together. I was proud of them for doing each bathroom together rather than dividing and conquering (as I probably would have done in their shoes) but where is the community in that? The girls did the same thing while pulling weeds together and cleaning up toys from the lawn.
I’m about to get #reallife on you all here. I’m forgetting all grammar conventions and just going to tell you straight! If you take the time to read all this, thanks! If you haven’t got the time just take away that life gets dirty sometimes, and messy, and exhausting, but it’s still all worth it!