My former-orphans wear flip-flops with flower appliques and madras shorts and big bows in their hair. They ride bikes and climb trees and weed the garden for the day’s “Team Hagerty” task. They have tea parties underwater and sport goggles that I sometimes think might leave a permanent ring after summer, they’ve been on so long.
They dress themselves up in normality.
And I forget.
Until she melts down, just shy of an hour before we’re to leave and meet new friends for dinner — all those years of insecurity mustering themselves up into one deadpan expression. She goes under and I go with her. Not sure whether to press pause on the plans (as we’ve done so many times before) or press ahead, I get stuck in my thoughts.
We’ve made our home her cradle, a place where her still-infant heart can beat, and bleed. She can cry safely here. Her body jumps sizes — multiple sizes — in one season, but her heart moves only inches towards healing. Healing — real, lasting healing takes time. I know this. I knew this. “This is what we signed up for,” he tells me in an effort to pull me out of the pit.
But I took my eye off the ball.
When I start to believe that the Christmas card we sent out — the snapshot of our “finest hour” when all clothes are pressed, nails are scrubbed and smiles are vibrant — is truly our most glorious moment, I lose sight of all that fills up my insides.
Our God was birthed onto straw and soil.
And He calls us to another way. A better way. “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you.” Matthew 14:13-14
When I expect to be repaid, no matter how subtle, my insides wither. Repayment, like that night, was a child whose countenance shouted “I am loved” despite her history and whose mommy could count on her to be steady. Other times, with the rest of them, it’s “beating the odds” and matching up, normal, against children who didn’t know loss before they lost their first tooth.
I came here for another reward. One that can’t really be marked by the naked eye, and may even go undetected by my eye which discerns if I don’t watch for it. And when I tweak, prod, tug and push this life of mine to fit into another mold — the mold whose greatest glow shines externally — I miss the beauty of what happens underground.
Isn’t this the message for all mothers, for all people who have found themselves buried — hidden — under circumstances that just aren’t repaying us for the sweat we’ve shed?
It isn’t a consolation to not be repaid, it’s a prize. We were made for another world’s currency. And our life is a series of God-initiated circumstances which awaken us to the reality that our greatest reward is birthed into dirt.
My lot just happens, today, to be adoption. The place where you lack reward may be elsewhere. The scenery changes but the effect is the same. He is using this feast in our home to teach my flesh, that thinks it craves normalcy, that what I was really made to crave was Him. Only Him. Even the greatest goal of my motherhood — and trust me, I still have them and hold them dear, these prayer-goals of mine for our home — falls grossly short of the one pursuit that may mess up my outsides but set me free on the inside.
When she looks down after I tell her I love her or her sister weeps in loss for another mother that’s not me, I feel His hand on my shoulder. Gentle. Tender. Knowing. Brushing my skin with a holiness so “other” yet so mine because of who He is.
And I remember.
My payment is Him.
And He — this God-Man who has seen my squandered moments and my heart’s vomit and continues to reach in, not away — is an endless invitation. He is extravagant.
And it’s this reminder that produces another “yes” in me for tomorrow.
If my days are going to be won by His Words my end can never be the people I serve or the party I throw.
My end must be Him.
First two photos compliments of Mandie Joy. Third photo compliments of Cherish Andrea Photography.
And a note: as you may have gathered, summer days in the Hagerty home are for slowing down. Schooling takes on a different rhythm, as do our lives. I’m resuming writing here, but with no set schedule. And since our summer-Mondays don’t feel like Fall, Winter, or Spring Mondays, I’ll be pressing pause on Monday Morning Chais. Adoration is still very much my bedrock. I’ll resume adoring over here, just not on schedule :). You can sign-up by using this RSS feed link: http://www.EveryBitterThingisSweet.com/posts/chai/feed or by entering your email address in the second box on the right-hand side.