“Why doesn’t anyone else have to do this Mommy?” she asks again as we drive to another specialist appointment. No matter how I answer, she still has the same question. It’s as if there are no answers for her, for this kind of question. Yet.
With adoption, there are some days that I feel like we have a home full of cavernous stories that only God fully knows. As each piece is brought out for us to see, not over months but years, I can tell we’re near to change. Near growth.
One of mine reads a novel about an orphaned childhood and a severed story and an absurd amount of pain and asks the innocent question: “does anyone else have as horrific of a story as hers?” I get that lump in my throat. How can I tell her “yes, baby, you — you do.” They forget. Often. Is it our nature that He’s given us by which to cope or is it man’s way of avoiding the wound that enables us to feel the bare hands of God as a salve?
In their amnesia, there’s a lot they forget. And forgetful minds lead to forgetful eyes and those eyes, they go searching for something to make an impression. Anything.
For the one, she looks straight at her toothy-grinned friends eating ice cream with never-interrupted play. Surely never-interrupted lives, she thinks.
And she’s young and doesn’t even yet hold a phone in her hand, this potential portal into feeding our envy that all of us carry.
It’s almost as if it’s inevitable, and at all stages of life, this amnesia. This forgetting that all of our life is entwined with His story — a grand, plot-twisted page-turner. The aimless searching and looking at others’ lives that happens when we forget, it isn’t just for the pre-teen.
Sometimes it’s not the searing pain that makes us forget that all of life is a story, sometimes it’s merely the slow-drip of mundanity. Another carpool run. Another version of the same argument with our spouse. Another trip to the dry-cleaners before Monday’s flight. Another rushed dinner after soccer practice.
When you have twenty-minutes of quiet and you’ve forgotten there is a bigger story and a bigger God, there’s little reason not to “live the dream” through another person’s highlight reel. When you have twenty-minutes and there’s not a bigger story, there’s little reason not to see your pain as “only you” and then isolate your heart into the far corner of the gym relegated for those who weren’t picked to live the dream. Might as well peer into another person’s life and escape.
I have twenty-minutes in the middle of the afternoon and five options inviting me to escape the truth that I was made for something so bright and so real and so powerful that it would illuminate the people I touch and the things I do … that I was made for Someone so bright and so real and so powerful that He would overshadow me with His light.
And sometimes I still want to just choose one of those five options.
It feels easier. The amnesia.
There’s an epidemic happening among our people. We were meant to carry a glory that would draw any stranger into the person of Jesus and the cure isn’t merely to put down our phones (though perhaps that’s not a bad first step).
We’ve been given a look into our neighbor’s kitchen and our friend’s vegetable garden and onto our cousin’s daughter’s report card — none of which, of themselves, are bad things — but for a people who have forgotten the story we were invited into and the rich and unfolding plot to which we got linked when we said yes to “Jesus”, this look can become an escape.
And, if it becomes an escape, it can derail us.
While I’d love it to be as simple as “put down your phone and take the twenty minutes in the middle of the afternoon to ask Him to show You Himself”, I think there’s a heart-fissure underneath all of it that won’t ever stop alluring us until we see it, acknowledge it and address it.
Some days, I’d rather look at my friend and envy what her hedge-trimmed life looks like — with three well-matched children (that I’ve never seen shed a tear in her feed) and her shiplap walls and soapstone counter-tops — than I would address the part of my heart that started the looking with that slant eye, in the first place.
We’ve subtly made Him out to be a plastic Jesus, such that real-life ache and dreams on-hold and even the droning on of another Monday that was just the same as the Monday before don’t seem natural to bring to Him. So we escape into another person’s storyline — the one we wish we had, the one that we envy them for living, the one that seems brighter and bigger and more alluring than the sock-bin waiting for me in the laundry room. Mindlessly — we escape mindlessly.
There’s a lot more mindlessness than we’d like to admit happening for those of us who are offered the mind of Jesus, inside of our very heads.
All the while, the pages of His Word use phrases like “being filled” (Philippians 1:11) and “the riches of the glory of His inheritance” (Ephesians 1:18) and “He gives power to the weak” (Isaiah 40:29) and “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).
These aren’t reflections of a plastic Jesus with arms that don’t bend, keeping us feeling human beings at a distance. This is what happens when we take that twenty minutes, get honest with God (and with ourselves) about what we’re feeling in the current moment and ask Him to show up.
So, today, what about that twenty minutes? Or ten? That five minute walk down the street to meet the bus or get the mail? What if instead of stuffing what’s inside and escaping into another world, we asked Him to meet us, right where we were? What if we introduced our eyes to the epic story available in Africa and in suburbia, in five-minute increments, knowing that a five minute conversation today where I feel His spark against my raw insides might actually lead to a ten-minute one tomorrow?
People, it’s time to wake up. There is a deep, thick and ever-unfolding connection with God — the story of all ages is available to us while we change the laundry today.
I don’t want to find myself at sixty-two, having missed it for a lifetime of ten-minute increments of escape (though sixty-two isn’t too late!).
Photos compliments of Cherish Andrea Photography.