BLACK OR WHITE!!!
Do you hear me???
BLACK OR WHITE!!!
Good or bad.
Wrong or right.
Yes or no.
How much do I love these?
They make life so much easier.
I know what to do and what not to do.
No weird subtleties that confuse others and me the most.
How difficult are these for me? They make all my decisions so much harder.
But easier is NOT always better. By any stretch.
We’ve seen enough of that in our homes, in our neighborhoods, at our workplaces, in church and especially on social media.
CHOOSE ONE OR THE OTHER!
YOU HAVE TO!!!
One is 100% wrong and one is absolutely right!
And if you don’t choose what I choose, you will be disowned.
Not talked to.
There seems to be a huge missing factor in what I love and what can be easier, but not better.
It’s a little six-letter word called WISDOM.
Wisdom says it’s not always black and white, good or bad, right or wrong, yes or no!
Wisdom allows for the whole possibly-hidden story behind what’s outwardly visible.
Wisdom often brings a third out-of-the-box thought, path, or decision.
Wisdom isn’t simple or easy much of the time.
It can nuanced and difficult.
It requires grace and patience and seeing things from many angles.
Wisdom is the way of Jesus.
He’s all about it. He doesn’t get caught up in the ALWAYS this or ALWAYS that.
He’s all about the SOMETIMES.
Sometimes it’s the right thing to walk away and shake the dust off of your feet.
And others it’s the right thing to stay and lean in and heal those in your path.
Sometimes it’s the right thing to break hard and fast man-made rules.
And others it’s the right thing to follow them closely.
Sometimes it the right thing to turn water into wine in celebration.
And others it’s the right thing to turn wine into a symbol of grief and remembrance.
When our son was a senior in high school, he and his classmates went to a very sketchy (to say the least) beach hotel for the weekend after prom.
This mama white-knuckled it on her knees through those 48-hours.
When he came home, he shared a crazy story.
A boy in his “suite” (if you can even call them that) had brought some heavy-duty drugs with him and was using them openly.
Our son did NOT want to be involved in the slightest and needed to figure out what to do, where to sleep.
Guess what he chose: to sleep in his friends’ room on the floor.
That sounds simple enough, but it’s not. His friends were girls.
Normally, this mama would never have praised her son’s choice for sleeping in the same room with four bikini-clad, beautiful members of the opposite sex. I would have freaked out just a little (okay, a lot).
But I did just that. “Wise choice!” I said to him. “I’m so glad you came up with that option and acted on it.”
How crazy is that?!?
After he walked out of the room, I breathed a quick thank you prayer for not only God keeping him safe that weekend, but granting him wisdom in the middle of not-the-greatest of options.
I was stretched out of my own black-and-white thinking in a way that still surprises me now.
So today, when the rubber meets the road and I find myself tempted to fall into the easier way of doing life, I hope to choose the much much better way of WISDOM.
It might be more work and I might be hugely uncomfortable, but it will be worth it.
For me. And for the people around me.
Not the one about just saying no.
Not the one about the future. It was a completely different, way more nuanced and complicated one. The kind that might make her big kid get defensive.
Or shut her out. The kind where she went through all the scenarios in her head.
How should approach the subject?
What should she say? This or that or the other thing? Her mind raced and looped and her stomach got all knotty inside. She loved this big kid so desperately.
She had worked so hard on keeping her mouth shut and her opinions to herself.
She did not want to do anything that would hurt this kid or their relationship. But this was one of those times when talking was really important. It couldn’t and shouldn’t be swept under that rug where the pile grows and then there is a huge bump that no one can get over or around. This was one of those times when talking was scary, but oh so necessary and really good. For her big kid.
And for her. She got up the gumption after a few nervous-nelly days to say, “Can we take a walk just by ourselves?” When the answer was “I’d love to Mom,” she said a little prayer for help, mustered up her brave mom heart, put on her cute white shoes and took the first step out the door and into what might end up horrible or wonderful. At first, she asked lots of questions that had nothing to do with anything about anything. She was hoping to make it feel like she didn’t have this weird mom agenda that was about to pounce. Next, she talked about all the beautiful sights on the walk, the tulip trees in bloom and how the neighbor had shaved her dog in the strangest of ways. She was avoiding. Finally, in the most normal, not awkward mom way she possibly could, she carefully tiptoed her way into “the talk.” She tried so hard not to “set her big kid straight.”
She tried so hard to listen and understand.
She tried so hard to share her thoughts and concerns from a place of love and not fear. And guess what? It went better than she could have imagined. What could have gone sideways, upside-down or completely backwards went mostly straight. What could have ended in tears, slammed doors and broken hearts ended in a hug. It wasn’t because this mom did it all perfectly. That is not true, not true at all. This mom actually does not really have any idea why it went so well. Maybe it was because the Tender Lover of both of their souls softened their hearts. Maybe it was because they had slept well and eaten a good breakfast. Maybe it was because they just loved each other and had worked really hard to do these kinds of talks better than they had done a million other times. Maybe it was none of those things. Who really knows? But this mom does know a few things right now. She can take a deep breath and her tummy can unknot. She will offer a huge prayer of thanks. She is not a nervous-wreck mom anymore. She is a glad one.
Nine years ago, I was a mom of a 19 year old, an 18 year old, a 15 year old and a 12 year old.
My husband commuted to a job 90 minutes away.
I was in the middle of some of the hardest and busiest times of my life.
Trapped in a mile-long to do list.
Trying to SEE God, but constantly pulled in a thousand directions, especially at 3:39 pm.
I must have read this quote somewhere.
It struck me enough that I stopped and posted it on Facebook. At 3:39 pm.
It was probably exactly what I needed at that specific time and wanted the world (or my little Facebook Friends world) to hear it.
To soak it in.
To bask in its freeing and life-giving truth.
God SEES me.
God loves me.
Right in the middle of the mayhem.
Right where I am, not where I “should” be.
Right at 3:39 pm.
He SEES me.
He loves me.
Maybe that day, I got a little glimpse that held me up when I needed it the most.
Maybe I blasted some music on my iPod, headphones tangled around my neck.
Maybe I stopped and danced around the kitchen with dirty dishes piled high in the sink.
And maybe today at 3:39 pm, I’ll need another peek at the never-ending love of God.
Maybe I will throw on some worship music.
Maybe I will dance freely around my office.
And maybe nine years from now, this will all happen again.
At 3:39 pm.
I hope it does. I sure hope it does.
One day, a girlish woman looked down at her big burgeoning belly and she had little red lines.
She freaked out a bit.
“Those are STRETCH marks,” her very own mama broke the news. “They will always remind you that you are a mom.”
What seemed like both three days and 75 years later, her big kid, yet still-her-baby, was taking one more step to new-found freedom. Away from her. Out into the world.
She glanced in the mirror that night, tears staining her cheeks, and those little red lines, albeit mildly faded, spoke gently to her about all the ways she had been and was still being
Before she was quite ready. Often taken-aback by what was in front of her.
To her limits. In…………….all……………the……………..ways.
In her thinking. More open-minded. Less judgmental.
Above and beyond. The call of mom duty.
From the inside out. Just like the burgeoning belly. Bringing new life.
Beyond her imagination. Who knew? There would be all this s–t–r–e–t–c–h–i–n–g?
By her child. Of course.
She took another hard look at her now mid-life, bumpy belly and she gave thanks for those little red lines.
For all the s–t–r–e–t–c–h–i–n–g. That had happened and was still happening.
Not just on the outside. But on the inside. On her heart. On her soul.
“Those are STRETCH marks,” she whispered to herself. “They will always remind you that you are a mom.”
A recycled candle jar.
Long. Slow. Deep.
Words said to me over and over again with every single contraction I had as I labored with each of my four kids.
Long. Slow. Deep.
Words I say to myself whenever my heart starts to race, my palms get sweaty and my brain is off to the races, filled with anxiety and dread.
Long. Slow. Deep.
Words the Tender Lover of my soul speaks to me when the heartache both within and around me feels unbearable.
Long. Slow. Deep.
Words that I imagine were spoken to Mary by the women in her caravan coaxing her through the laboring pushes and birth of Jesus and the comfort and joy that prevailed in the afterbirth.
It’s past midnight.
Someone I love was in much pain earlier.
Most days, I would push it aside and go to sleep.
I’m sitting at my table just breathing.
In and out.
Breathing in her pain. Long. Slow. Deep.
Holding my breath for just a few seconds as I hold her before the God who is with us in the middle of our pain, our heartache.
Breathing out the love of God to her. Long. Slow. Deep.
I’m not in the physical room with this one I love. I can’t be right now.
I can’t take away her pain.
I can’t make it magically all better.
But I can breathe for her.
I can breathe with her.
Long. Slow. Deep.
In the story of creation, God took the dust, the dirt, the ground and breathed life into it. His powerful, beautiful, love-filled life.
What sprang forth in all its beauty was us. You and me.
We were glorious.
We were sacred.
But we were also fragile.
But God didn’t and doesn’t stop there. He didn’t and doesn’t create us and then leave us alone.
We are still glorious.
We are still sacred.
And we are still fragile.
We need Him, His breath of life, every single day.
In our pain.
In our fear.
In our sadness.
Even in our joy.
We need His powerful, beautiful, love-filled life.
That’s why I breathe.
Long. Slow. Deep.
For those I love.
Often for those I don’t even really know, but can love because they are glorious, sacred and fragile just like me.
Each of us takes about 20,000 breaths per day.
20,000 chances to inhale our individual and collective suffering.
20,000 chances to hold each other and bring each other to the One who holds us in the palm of His hand and in the recesses of His heart.
20,000 chances to exhale His unending and unfailing love to one another.
But most of our breaths are rushed, fast, and shallow.
We move at a pace that requires this. Rushed. Fast. Shallow.
It’s no wonder we miss out on the powerful, beautiful, love-filled life that God has to offer us and we have to offer each other.
So tonight, at this dark and quiet hour, I don’t want to miss out. I want to be present. I want to soak in the power, the beauty and the love that is ready at the waiting.
I do nothing else but breathe.
Long. Slow. Deep.
For the one I love.
And for you.
I had to set my alarm for the first time in nine months.
I left my home in the cold cover of darkness to pick you up after five whole months of being apart.
I spent my whole entire day “getting your room ready” (since it had become where we “store” everything).
Our grocery bill is going to be quite a bit higher for the next three weeks.
We both had to quarantine to the best of our ability for the last bunch of days.
I had to fill my pantry with all your favorites and drove back out to the store because I forgot something.
There will be more dirty dishes and meals I haven’t made in months.
ALL of that just doesn’t matter. Seriously.
WHAT DOES MATTER IS ALL OF THIS:
I watched you embrace the dad you have had wrapped around your finger since you burst forth on the scene in that sterile hospital room.
I heard your particular footsteps scampering to the bathroom this morning.
I soaked in the smell of your perfume you’ve been wearing since you were 13.
You sat with me eating your favorite cereal and we just had time to talk face-to-face.
The puzzle board is back out with pieces scattered in very neatly arranged areas.
We are going to decorate the Christmas tree together.
I am hearing your laughter right now as you chat with your brother.
We went on a walk today in the freshly fallen snow.
You are here if I want to see your face, be in the same room with you, and hold your hand on the couch while we binge watch our favorite mom/daughter show.
WHAT REALLY MATTERS IS THAT YOU ARE HOME.
Best mom present ever.