"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Mother's Lament

photo source
I sent her off on a jet plane.

She is only going for a few weeks this time---a trial run, really.  Not the real launch.  Not yet.

In one big, true way I can see she is more than ready and it "feels right and good".  And, yet...
And, yet... wasn't it just last week that I was helping her eat, stand and learn to walk.  Wasn't it just yesterday that she was snuggled in or singing and swinging in my yard.

I keep saying it to friends, when they are kind enough to ask--- it feels like I am birthing again. It feels like labor.

Horrible, wonderful, productive, sickening, necessary and painful labor.  When you give birth to a baby, you know that this is "right and good" and you wait and watch in wonder.  It is "as it should be".  But, man---oh---man, does it hurt.  This has been my experience these past months as we ready our family to launch our first daughter.

As she walked away from us at the airport with bounce and confidence... I wanted to feel excitement and joy.  And, I did.  She is ready.  Mixed emotions swirl---joy, pride, peace.  But, what I feel most strongly is deep grief and sadness.  It is so hard to let go.  Tears came unbidden even in the very public airport.  They stream out, with little attention to the "appropriate" time-and-place.

Tears well up even as I type.  How do I do this with You, Lord?  How do I trust more and lean into You alone?  

When a woman gives birth her everything changes.  Scientifically we know that labor and delivery changes a mother's brain, her muscles, her hormones, her skin---it all changes.  Before I was pregnant, my hair was a light, bright blonde.  After birth, my hair quickly grew thicker and darker. All "young" toe-head blonde Stephanie was lost with this babe.

These babies.  These dear ones change everything.

And, now, I find myself in the same state.  Changing.  Watching, waiting, feeling the swirling anticipation and anxiety.  Eighteen years of my life with my heart, soul, and body turned toward her.  ...and now she walks away.  With beautiful, bounding energy, she prances away into the passport line.  It is as it should be.  Right and good.  And, it is deeply painful at the very same time.

I checked my phone yesterday way too many times; obsessed with wanting her "touch" via that whatsapp or messenger.

I close the door to her bedroom, so I don't have to look in to the empty as I pass by.

I struggle for the gumption to make our regular Saturday morning fun-breakfast; as if her not being with us makes it less than.       Ah... the pains of labor.

I read in Ann Voskamp's newest book, "I know a mother's labor and delivery never ends, and you have to keep remembering to breathe" and my soul shouts: Yes, Ann!  Yes! This is exactly what I have been saying these past months.  I will remember to breathe, Lord.  Breath You in---the giver of life, my hope, my strength and my joy.  

Breathe.  Just breathe.

"As long as I have life within me, the breath of God is in my nostrils."  Job 27:3

Watch and wait.
As with labor and delivery, good things are coming in the midst of the pain.
God things are around the corner.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

A Strange Song

We received hard news the other day.  My response was raw.

I was deeply sad, confused and angry.  I truly thought that God was saying "yes" to a particular request---and then He said, "No".  I felt like a bewildered and disgruntled child.  I felt duped.  The rug had just been pulled out from under my feet.

Had I heard wrong?  Apparently!

Only last month my mentor asked me, "How do you relate to God in your grief? Do you express it to Him?"  I had found myself dumbfounded with the question--- relating to God in the grief.  In the midst...

So much still to learn.

Ranting through the day, I gave it a go.  This concept of authentic and real interaction with God. With all of me---the real me.  These raw emotions.  Could I simply have them and communicate them honestly to my God? Could I, as David and Jesus did, express those hard emotions directly to my Father, in faith.

"Where are you God?"
"Why have you forsaken me?"
"Will you remain silent forever?"

Like my husband, who gently, gracefully and calmly listened to much of my rantings that day, God seemed quietly sitting with me.  Receiving it, but not responding.  Present.  Solid.  Okay.  God was okay.  His Presence didn't falter.  I didn't feel His wrath at my strong, ugly, raw emotions.  In my anger, I asked. I questioned.  I demanded.  I cried.  It wasn't pretty.

It certainly wasn't the first time---but, it was a significant step for me in being wholly and truly ME with God.  In the midst...  Raw and real with God.

Late in the day, standing at the sink and washing my hands in the warm water, my heart cried out, "Father..."  A cry of "Ugh.."  A deep sigh of frustration escaped my lips.

In that very instant, suddenly came the strangest song...

It was Elvis Presley.  (A caveat here---I simply do NOT always have a song in my head.  Rarely. Very rarely, in fact.  And, I certainly don't have Elvis in my head!  When even was the last time I heard Elvis?!)

In that moment, clear as day, Elvis was singing into my thoughts, "Love me tender, love me true.... for my darlin' I love you and I always will"

There it was---and I knew.  I knew, as surely as I was conscious of the warm water washing my hands, that this was God's heart speaking.

God was asking me, in the most tender way, do you love Me, even so?  

Job 13:15 "Even though He slay me, I will trust Him."  

He was saying, My love for you does not falter or shift.  All I ask in return is love.  Love me with all your heart, with your soul and with your mind.  

Stephanie, love me tender.  Love me sweet.  Never let me go.  Love me tender, love me long.  Take me to your heart---for it is there that I belong and will never part.  

This God.  This amazing Lover that offers Himself and His love to me, over and over.  For always. For keeps.  ...all He asks from me is to remain in that love.  He asks for my love. 

I am not told to understand Him with all my heart, my soul and my mind.  No.  I don't have to understand.  I don't have to agree.  I just must love.  

Yes, Lord, I love you.  I love you tender and sweet.  I am yours.  
All I want for Christmas is You!  

"We love because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19)

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