So, there are days when from start to finish you feel like you’re just putting out fires and simmering down arguments and controlling your own tongue. Then there are these days when the afternoon is calm, the sun is shining in, the trees are swaying in the breeze, the fan is spinning inside to a quiet hum, the kids are watching a little something in between acting out a little something, and a boy – your oldest – is finishing up fourth grade Math while taking care of his sister and his Momma. He stops somewhere, oh, between every other problem to say, “Hey Mom, what’s your favorite pizza?” and “No, no Ruthie, let’s not do that.” and “Mom, I really, really love you!” while he’s blowing kisses and caring about you in that way that you hope will never end.
There are months and months without seeing a family member or talking to a best friend on the phone, and then there are good weeks when you get to walk for miles with sisters just talking about everything under the sun and over the moon. There are semesters of school that seem like they will never end, days and nights when you give more only because He has poured more into you, and by the end some test score makes you feel exactly the way you felt most of the year…unable. Then there are long, dark, angry nights when you let God know through every tear that you told Him so – that you were not the woman for this job! That these kids are suffering because of your inadequacy, and in the darkness He holds out His candle of Truth. He gives peace. He gives hope. And He says ‘Yes’ to your every ‘No.’ And for whatever un-logical reason but for every loving Him reason, you yield and whisper, “Okay.”
There are days and nights when husbands and wives just get up and get through another day. They love each other and their kids, yes, but there doesn’t seem to be the time or money to think outside of the everyday normal. So, you go on for weeks, months, years (?) just trying to balance marriage and parenthood and work and check books and spending and giving and sitting and going and… And then you wake to a day when your husband tells you it’s time to get that thing that’s been bothering you for years taken care of. You kind of think he’s just talking; so, you go on about your days wearing jeans and flip-flops and just not thinking about it. Then, he says it again, and this time, you think he actually might mean it. So, you make some calls, you set up appointments, you drive back and forth to that office up north several times, your van breaks down at one of them, you’re not sure if any of it’s going to be covered by outside sources, and then miracle after miracle happens and you remember: I was just praying and asking God if maybe He might find a way to let this happen. But you know you weren’t really thinking it would any time soon because in comparison to so much worldwide need this ranks quite low and you are content with that reality. There are so many times He just amazes me with His care for us because really, there are so many other needs He could be caring for, and when He chooses to care for me, I am reminded that He loves me. Me. Anastasia. A girl of no great significance in all this wide world (we are but a vapor – a blade of grass) but of such significance to Him that if I had been the only one who needed a way to heaven, Jesus would have still come.
(Wow! Just writing that out gives me the sweetest awareness of His presence.)
Sometimes, you just need to know He loves you. I do! I need to know that I’m not just being a “Good Girl” who doesn’t do a whole lot of the “Thou shall not’s” in order to raise “good” little boys and girls who won’t do a lot of “Thou shall not’s.” I really need to know that when I’m good or naughty, when I’m skipping or throwing a tantrum, when I’m prone to trust or prone to fear, that He is near and loving me through it. I need every ounce of mercy, grace, faith, and love He has to give me because I need to give every ounce of mercy, grace, faith, and love He has to give, to the people in my life. Because if my life is not about loving Him, sharing Him, reflecting Him, revealing Him, my life is is wasted.
So, this summer I will be joining a whole wide world of women (truly, whole wide world…with books translated into – Afrikaans, Croatian, French, Hungarian, Dutch, German, and Spanish) to talk about the ways that He loves us. Within this whole wide world, there is this wonderful group of women who have decided to read side-by-side with me – to read about how He loves us in the midst of pain, depression, sadness, healing, rejoicing, and comfort. It is a scary thing for me to walk side-by-side with others and say, “Hi.” – to open myself up and also to be there when they do the same. We are all tender under all the layers, and it’s just down right frightening to put your scars out there for all to see and touch. With every bud opening, there is this risk that someone will just trample you or pluck you right off, but if we never risk the opening – the breaking, we will never see the beauty unfold.
I pray that we will see over and over again how He loves, how He cares, how He is near. I pray that we will never walk through another day when we don’t know for absolute surety that our Jesus loves us!
This longing to know the Truth of His love begins from, well, the beginning. The other night I sat rocking Baby Girl and comforting Miss “Grace” as she lay in bed crying over Aunts that had to leave. I sang through songs that I used to listen to with Grandma Ward on the A.M. Gospel station; I did a little round of what I could remember. Just when I was beginning another song, Hannah asks for the one I began with. She just really wanted to hear it, and I smiled because I could relate. My daughter spoke the request that my heart speaks daily – this desire to know, to believe, and to hear…that Yes, Jesus Loves Me.