At the mercy of others
Perhaps this is a theme for my year, I wrote this post on the matter just a couple of months ago. My intrinsic, God-given wiring and strength is being a giver of mercy and compassion. But being the one who needs help is hard for me. I delight in making food for people who are sick or sad or hurting. It brings me great joy to see a need and be able to meet it. I just mailed a package to a precious friend in Chile and my imagining her receiving it brings me a smile, many times a day. I love standing in my kitchen making the perfect blueberry pancakes because I know everyone in this house thinks they’re the best ever.
Also deeply woven into the fabric that is me is the heart of a mother. Ten years and counting and my heart is less mine all the time. When things crumbled a bit here over the past few days and life unraveled more than a little, I wrote to a couple of friends:
I feel like such an inadequate mother.
I had all the reasons why I was. If only I’d been in the right place at the right time and done just the right thing and kept everyone perfectly safe and unharmed and so on – then it would have turned out differently. While I sat at home waiting for text updates from the ER, madly cleaning the kitchen, because what else could I do, I made a long list of “if….then” statements. The more I came up with the more in a quiet frenzy I was – I am the wrong one, I’m not qualified to do this, look at how I’ve failed. As my silent panic grew, our pastor called, it was late and I was outside in the dark checking on animals. He couldn’t have known that my mind needed a holy interruption so desperately.
He asked if he could go sit with Chris or if his wife should come over and I tried to talk without wavering but had little success. I spouted the lies that had seeped in so fast and spoke them as if all of me believed them to be true because at that moment, they felt true. He wasted no time, he said no, not true and spoke fervent truth over the garbage in my head. And it washed away. It did. It simply could not stay.
I whispered thank you, promised to call if I needed help. I tucked one more kid in bed. Again. I pulled the most worried one out of bed to sit with me and wait. She finally fell asleep so I got to work preparing middle-of-the-night dinner for the early morning return of my beloved and my eldest son. I could breathe again once I hugged them both. Still a host of unknowns and wait-for-the-appointment-after-the-weekend but at least we were all under one roof. There is something I love about that, something that always brings a level of peace to my heart.
All my ducks were in a row this week. I organized a blueberry picking trip then a picnic following at our home. I scheduled a fall checkup for the van before the baby came and the months of rain too. I booked well-child visits with our family doctor for our kids that needed them. I wrote “goat clipping” one night, a midwife appointment another evening and filled in all these lovely aspirations from my to-do list. I was going to plan a months worth of meals for September. I felt pleased as punch that we would get all this done before the fair and before the baby and before school.
Then in one fell swoop, one poor choice, one moment…the course of our week (our month, our autumn) changed and doctor visits were cancelled, new ones were made, the van will need to keep running happily without maintenance, the goats are still furry and we had to tell everyone the berry picking fun was off. Suddenly, there were no ducks in a row, not even any ducks to be seen.
And here I am, in this place where I need to be held up instead of my much preferred spot of doing the holding. I say yes to help with kids, runs to the store and all sorts of things because I can’t do it by myself. I’m not meant to. And if I try to, not only do I lose but I steal the delight, the blessing of everyone who WANTS to help, to love, to serve by not giving them a chance to.
The gut-wrenching truth that I may spend the rest of my life learning is that I can’t control the outcomes of my kids’ choices. I can love them with everything I am. I can teach them all sorts of wonderful things. I can provide a safe place for them to be who they are and pursue their interests and passions. But they will have to learn on their own the hard stuff of life. It will probably break my heart. More than once.
All I could hope or ask for is that in those places that hurt, that disappoint, that discourage and leave them feeling a little bit lost…that they would see and hear and sense the voice of the One who loves them like none other, in their midst.