When You Wonder If You’ll Ever Change

I love the seemingly sudden change of seasons. The one change I won’t forget was when in Tokyo, I walked into a hospital to deliver our first baby. It was hot and humid mid September. Seven days later I walked out to drastically cooler breeze. Life was different; life was new.

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I remember the day we left thinking, “Wow, this baby really does belong to us. We’re walking out of here with her and she will go wherever we do!” I stepped into this new life and cool air with a hot head. I knew it all, but a season of exhaustion, sometimes emotionally more than physically, found me. The weight of guiding a soul was something for which I was not prepared. Thank God we just couldn’t get the externals right or I would be stuck in my hot head forever.

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Tonight’s mid-September, I feel the cool again.  The changing breeze feels sudden though the world has faithfully worked its spin since the last one. It feels sudden that I’m a different mom, but the tough climbs of a decade had a place and the wind blows over a cooler-headed mama.

I smile at the future now. Not because I know it all, but because the day I walked out of that foreign hospital carrying a 6-pound bundle, the one who knew the current of my heart was prepared to carry me.

He works miracles, He does. We are mistaken to think they all happen in a flash. All of creation teaches us His ways.  The breeze can sing or smell or feel in a way that shows us how we’ve been carried when we thought we were getting nowhere.

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Feel the wind today.  Marvel at its mystery. You can see only its effects and grasp only its brushing past your skin. This, my friends, is the paintbrush of God. Ask Him to carry you along and see how He has worked the next time the breeze comes around.

 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

John 3:8

Why I Don’t Push Past Regret

I’ve been a horrible teacher and admit it readily here and there. The other day a friend said doubtfully, “Really? How so?” as if she didn’t believe me, which isn’t an uncommon response.

An early example is when Claire was 7 months old, I taught her to keep her hands down in her highchair. I thought after showing her once or twice she would get it, but of course not. I was frustrated with her “defiance” after that. I eventually trained her to do it, but this was the way with most things I tried to teach her. I was doing my job and she wasn’t learning fast enough. I missed the big picture that learning doesn’t happen in a day.

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Skipping over a plethora of times I trained without understanding or joy, we came to addition at 5 years old . . . “One plus one equals two. “One plus two equals three” is the gist of how I introduced the first concepts of math.

I might have drawn something on paper, used some beads. After a couple of explanations I let her do a worksheet. She couldn’t. I didn’t get beads out again. I didn’t let her use fingers, she just had to think and try harder. It went this way for a while and she still twitches at a new math lesson, as do I.

I have lamented this time in my life and hers when out of utero she was still forming and needing patient instruction. My heart sags 6 inches and weighs twice as much when I think of it.

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I’m told I did the best I could and she’ll turn out fine, but why don’t those words cradle and hold up my heart?

My best has been tainted by ignorance, selfishness, busyness, impatience, and fear. How can it be good enough or even okay?

You’ve been there, right? Your child hurts and your best has done it. When you’re alone and all comfort and encouragement from others is gone. You’re left with a saggy heart, a bowling ball stomach, the truth. The four walls know your best is unacceptable.

If we’re out for coffee and my failures come up I’m not looking for a pat on the back and, “It’s ok!” Please don’t pull out that sign “My Best” for me to hide behind and feel falsely better. I’ll try to do likewise for you. I’m ok with regrets.

I’m ok with them because the bitter truth, while painful as it shoves me low, has revealed the dwelling place of grace. Squeezed through a cavity of darkness and thin oxygen I discover a hidden and marvelous world.

It’s like a birth.

Standing up, dressed in my best, fighting the wrinkles and refusing to bend from the pain never took me to a world so unexplained. Passing through such a door hunched low however, my grievous heart lightens. For a moment there’s a feeling that I’m imposing and don’t belong, but it’s just then I remember, the girl who knows she doesn’t belong at the ball gets chosen to dance. So if letting my regrets push me down leads me to another place I can stand for real, I guess in a curious way I see them as friends.

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Are you weighed down by regret? Are you trying to keep yourself up and missing out on really seeing what grace is like?