Watching her walk away always gets to me. Both of them – when they leave me there is always a longing that whispers,
Are you warm enough?
Call me later?
I offer polite silence when people tell me (as if I’m just a wee thing) that this will change over time because I am literally middle-aged and I’ve always been like this. No, Kind Person, it won’t change. Something inside me wants my dearest ones to stay the same and never change even when change is healthy, hopeful, and even miraculous. Fortunately for all of us, I don’t get my way.
When I was in high school, after a fun night with friends I would write down every little detail of an event precisely how it had happened in my journal – as if I could freeze-frame my senses. I wanted to be able to go back to read it on some other sad day and re-feel it as present tense. It never worked, of course, but the longing to capture time has always been an impulse.
I think it’s because I prefer the good thing I know to the uncertain thing I don’t.
This week I want to freeze-frame my family. The other day our family grew by one – my brother is a grandfather for the 3rd time, God bless her. She is pristine perfection, is she not?
My nephew sent me a video of her sneezing and I thought, “OH, this might be the first time she has ever sneezed!” The first everything. And naturally this kind of change, the fresh from heaven sweet breath of a brand new human, is the very best kind. But still, it is change. Their son is no longer the baby; next to the newborn, he has instantly aged.
I get stuck on endings. You never know when you’re doing something for the last time, unless you’re the one putting the period on it yourself. Which was the last bath, the last pulling up and snapping of the pants, the last tissue squeezed nose with the added coaching to “Blow”? I didn’t get to pick. But there are endings I’m choosing these days that I’m more sure of – things that are over because I say so, and guess what? Whether it’s my idea or it’s someone else’s, it requires adaptation.
This is really good news, right? Living things adapt! Hallelujah! ‘Survival of individuals’ is an excellent outcome! Don’t worry, I do understand how these things go. I hear the cheerful promises that on the other side of difficult transitions, it’s all good. But, I sometimes try to weigh the yucky-ucky change (the glorified new thing) against the thing I’m clutching, in an effort to push myself through the process of getting to that promised other side – that place where the past is welcomed in retrospect because it was needful for the new thing to exist. I just I don’t want to be told how I should feel. I want to get there myself. I also think denial is a valid strategy. But since I can’t seem to stop my kids from adulting, it will do me no good.
So, I confess, I’m caught looking squinty-eyed at faith. Regarding my kids growing up and my future coming up roses, I want to trust in a fabulous future, but it’s hard sometimes.
Faith, whether it’s in a glorious horizon or just in your car starting on Monday morning, is requisite to life. No one would take a single step in any direction if they did not trust the floor to hold them, unless they were suited up for a freefall. Thankfully Jesus said that it only takes a little to get stuff done.
Luke 17:5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. (ESV)
For me, walking through change demands faith, sometimes miraculous faith. I tend to always think I don’t have enough. This is how I pray sometimes,”I know, I know, God. I trust you with what I don’t see and what I don’t understand, but HOW is that really going to go? Can I just have a hint? Because I feel like Moses had hints.”
And this is what I sense God’s answer to me is. “You, not Moses, are the lucky one.” He says I am in good company (according to Hebrews 11 and 12) because I am by faith grafted into a holy family and that great cloud of witnesses did not whiteknuckle change.
Our legacy is to love courageously. Do you know someone brave? Can you picture a person in your world whose shoes you would not want to stand in? They didn’t ask for this, but they will not be reduced by it; this suffering will not be pointless. This cancer, this loss, this change, this bankruptcy, this heartbreak. This empty nest. God gives us a list of brave believers who didn’t just weather change but asked for another helping, and in Hebrews 11 he includes you and me in their number.
39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
That, to me, is dumbfounding. The writer says “us” at the end because in Christ we are all “us” – and yet we are nearer to the ultimate prize than they were. And we have the Holy Spirit on call, while they had to wait for occasional outbursts. To me, that means we all look together at that promise like a target drawing closer. And faith in it seems barely like faith, the clearer it appears.
My troubles are not worth comparing to the troubles I see around me. All in all, I’m just whining lately about how much I miss the days when, if I wanted to finger through her hair or stick a $5 in her purse when she wasn’t looking, I didn’t have to drive to her apartment. I do not know if my daughters woke up warm enough in their beds this morning or when they will be back in my kitchen (but I’m hoping it’s tomorrow). They get to grow up 🙂 I can still move in my superpower, ordinary compassion, toward someone who never saw love coming. So can you. This mustardseed-faith is deep water fed.