Christianity · Faith · Family · Kids · motherhood

This is not how it was supposed to be

My boys and I head down to the trail, the toddler in the stroller, my oldest on his scooter. It’s the first day of spring and we can feel it. We arrive at a spot on the path where there is a break in the trees, allowing the sun to shine down in all of its brilliance and warmth.

“Wow, this is beautiful!” My oldest exclaims. And it is. Wholly, and Holy, beautiful. A taste, a glimpse, a hint, of Home.

The chickadees are singing their sweet song. Crows caw to each other from the branches of evergreen trees. The snow covers the ground like a quilt as she slowly wakes from sleep.

“Maaah!” my toddler exclaims, over and over and over again. It’s his way of saying “more”. He wants more of the golden retrievers, the collies, the terriers trotting by. More of the seagulls soaring over our heads. More of the joy as he watches his brother speed ahead. More of the wind in his face. He wants more of it all.

Our hearts are hungry for beauty.

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Sadness has touched so very, very close to home this month. The grieving in my heart is microscopic compared to the pain my dear friend is carrying, her husband stolen from his family without any warning. Barely time to breathe a good-bye. He is no longer there to hold her when she’s lonely, laugh beside her joy, share in the wonder of their growing daughter. The weight of her grief is unfathomable. It makes me weep. It angers me. It scares me. It leaves me feeling lost and alone.

This is not how it was supposed to be.

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The boys and I stop at a bench for a snack. The oldest hunts for animal tracks in the snow, makes a trail of his own, climbs rocks and jumps off of them in delight. They share the bag of crackers I’ve brought along, now smushed from travel. Their faces just inches apart, blue eyes staring into the other’s. They laugh together as their little fingers race for the last crumbs, shovelling them into their hungry mouths.

This is communion. This is joy.

We stomp through streams of melting snow on the way home. Chat with neighbours. Bask in sunshine, removing layers one by one. By this time we’re parched, and guzzle down tall glasses of water when we get inside.

This is rest. This is fullness. This is life.

This is how it was supposed to be.

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I put a pot on the stove and slowly pour in the silky orange soup. Dig through the fridge for the goat cheese that will be dolloped into our steaming bowls. The toddler starts to whine, screams at his brother and hits, they fight. I raise my voice and send them to separate rooms.

This is not how it was supposed to be.

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I’m lost for words, for thoughts. The only thing I can do is look for help in something stronger than myself.

I read about Jesus’ death. When He is facing the most terrifying moment of his life, just hours from being nailed to a cross, what does he do?

“They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, ‘Sit here while I go and pray.’ He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. He told them, ‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed…” (Mark 14:32-35)

He finds quiet, he finds solitude. He draws close to the Father, calls out his name from dry, trembling lips – “Abba” (the Aramaic word for Father) (Mark 14:36).

I must do the same.

Father. Comforter. Love.

My Hope.

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When my boys were infants, I spent many nights awake with them when they were fussy. Something would be bothering them, a mystery to me, and so I would return to their rooms, again and again, rocking them, nursing them, pacing hallways with them wrapped tightly in my arms. I could barely lift my eyelids under the weight of their exhaustion, was often cursing under my breath. But still I comforted.

And if I, as weak and selfish as I am, made it my goal to give rest and comfort to my children, then how much more does God desire to do the same for His children? And if I, a bewildered new mother, was still able to calm my babies, how much better is God equipped to bring peace to us in the midst of our troubles?

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I wake to see the red of the sunrise streaming through my dining room window, and in the evening I watch it set from the living room. It never fails. It is there day after day after day. In the same way, we trust in a God who never leaves. Who lives in the here and now, and offers himself to us in every single moment of every day. Who longs for closeness with us. He wants to walk with us through our pain, and our joy.

Abba.

He is Good, though the world is broken. He is Light, though the world is dark.

 

And so I, following in Jesus’ example, the author and perfecter of my faith, draw closer to the Father. Who has a love for me that will never fade. It is always passionate, always relentless, always faithful. Like a child, frightened and hurt, I lean on Him. Resting in His strength, knowing that His love will wash away my fear (1 John 4:18).

This is intimacy. This is communion.

This is how it was supposed to be.

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When my son goes outside to play in the backyard, I watch from the kitchen window. I wash dishes, cut vegetables for supper, laugh at his antics as he runs around the yard on his made-up adventures. We wave every now and then. Make silly faces at each other. Sometimes the glare of the sun against the glass prevents him from being able to see inside.

“I’ll watch for you out the window,” I say to him as he enters the chill of the outdoors, bundled so I can see only the black of his eyelashes and pink of his cheeks.

“But I don’t know when you’re going to look out the window,” he says. “Because sometimes when I look in the window I don’t see you.”

“That’s okay,” I respond. “I see you.”

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How blessed are those who do not see – but trust anyway! (John 20:29)

The Father’s eyes can always see. Let this be our comfort. Our desperate love-song when we have no other words. Our lifesaver to which we cling.

Come.

May we run to the one who hears our sorrows, who knows and understands the overwhelming ache in our hearts. May we put our trust in his perfect love (1 John 4:16).

And if our hearts are close, let’s open them. If our hands are hands clenched, let’s release our grip. Love always was, always is, and always will be the answer. This is what I am slowly learning. There is rest and life and peace waiting for us, if we would only let Love in. And as we lean in, He leans closer. Waiting to wipe our tears and hold our fears in his very hands. The ones that are big enough to form the earth in all of its vastness, yet close and tender enough to create the intricacies of us.

Even when we struggle to have faith. Even when His face is hidden from our view. Even when our world falls apart and nothing makes sense. We have Hope.

Believe in me. Call on me. I am near.

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