This is my ten year old daughter, Ellen, and her biological grandmothers. My mom is on the right in the white. Both the women and the girl in this picture hold such a profound part of my heart that words just simpy don’t work here.
It’s real love.
The realist of the real.
It has been ten years that I have spent loving this child but probably closer to twenty five years that I have spent dreaming about her.
I remember laying in bed as a young girl, imagining being a mother and picturing a room for two daughters. I imagined award ribbons and pictures and momentos tacked to a cork board.
I had such good ideas for how my life would work.
Relationships (of all kinds) are simply put the best and worst part of human living. It’s incredible to love even with the inevitable grief. For in the suffering that comes with human relating we get to experience compassion. And it’s this compassion that is the core of what makes “relationship” so much to be prized: to have love is to have hurt is to have compassion.
In John 14:27, Jesus says “my peace I give to you, my peace I leave with you”. He says this to secure the comfort of our hearts. Even when he is gone – beloved teacher, shepherding friend – his peace is present.
Tonight my house filled up with people and love and laughter to celebrate Ellen’s birthday. For the first time in ten years, the dinner was on – house set – candles lit – prior to first guests arriving. Throwing a dinner for twenty gets easier but the following does not..
Hours later the house emptied. Until even my lovely ten year old and her darling sidekick Lucy were buckled into their dad’s car which pulled out of the driveway to go back to the land of Netflix and cocoa puffs, cable and ping pong to complete “dad week”.
I walked back into my colorful home that smelled like the warmth of red sauce with a hint of cinnamon and overall calm. I found the silence and the emptiness both soothing and shattering and allowed the wave of it all to wash over me.
As I sat crying – heavy tears – I thought about all the mothers longing for their babies as I longed deeply for mine. The ones born, the ones to be born, the ones that may never be born, the ones born and passed.
I thought of the marriages and relationships that suffer from demons and closets and skeletons. That suffer from selfishness and fear. That are choked by anxiety and drowned with depression.
I thought of how I wished I knew the root of sin. How I wished I could close in on the little tick of sin that breaks good things and lock it away. This way people don’t have to hurt. This way longing and sadness and loneliness don’t happen.
This way birthday parties last forever.
Then I thought – “Erin, my peace I give to you – my peace I leave with you.” And instantly I allowed my heart to enter the loving compassion of Christ and I cried not needing answers.
Surely we want to understand so much! Surely we want plans and tactics. We think of what we need that may relieve us. We think of how to get to the root and change the course. But really – perhaps in these moments when our hearts gasp, we are to resist allowing our minds to stir and the urge to try and figure something out.
Maybe, instead, we are to accept an invitation to enter into God’s peace.
It was left for us. We should rest in it.
In Phillipians Paul writes “May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ.” (Phil 4:7)
And it’s so true, guys, it’s so true – peace is here for us. We are invited into peace when our hearts are quaking. This peace guards us.
It allows us to cry and drip snot on our floor and not have answers. It is when we enter this without the need to know that we get to experience divine compassion.
And it’s this —
It’s this experience of compassion that I guess really allows us to be free from the world. It’s like when we fell as kids, skinned our knee and freaked out at the blood to then have somebody’s loving warmth and care calm us down. All was made right. We forgot about the trauma.
What we want from people and relationships is valid… our sadness is valid. Our longing is valid.
So feel it —
— in doing so, I have found equal to this is the validity of calm and freedom.
Which we can also so feel.
Valid is the power of God to be compassionately present and working always and forever in our lives.
ps: hug your babies if you got em ;) for all the mamas who can’t.