Category Archives: What If
The internet has been all a flutter this week over the arrival of the new royal baby. You would be hard pressed to visit any news website or social media outlet and not see something about the big news.
And for each media outlet post, there has been every manner of remark about Kate herself, and the timing and fashion in which she left the hospital. I have seen everything from undying devotion and awe to downright hatefulness. She went home too soon, too fast, she was dressed too nice, and on and on.
April was C-Section Awareness Month and for every article I saw float across my Facebook feed, I saw hundreds of hateful, argumentative and judgmental comments from all sides of the C-Section “debate.” Even an article I wrote about my own experiences with my third baby received some of the most spiteful and downright vicious comments I’ve ever heard in my life.
How is it that we who nurture sweet babes at our breast, who lovingly tuck notes into lunch boxes and blankets under chins long after the lights go out, can be so destructive to one another? How can we who love, hug, cry and defend; we who care for and nurture because it’s in our nature suddenly become divisive, angry and hateful to the very ones with whom we should declare unity – all because of the way in which our children came into this world; or how soon we came home from the hospital; or how we choose to educate; or immunize; or, or, or…
I truly believe that all women mother someone, whether or not that’s what we call it. LisaJo Baker just wrote a stunningly beautiful article on this very idea. As she says so beautifully:
We mother because we can’t not. Because there are friends in the cubicle next to us who have been hurt and need a soft, safe place to come undone. We mother because we’ve watched our grandmas make slow, determined soup for the sick. We mother because the next door neighbor can’t change her tire in the blistering March wind and of course we call AAA for her and wait and shuffle feet and rub cold hands because she asked for help. Because, of course. This is what we women do. We give ourselves away — little bits and pieces of who we are, of our courage, of our deep faith even on the nights we’re the most afraid. We bear down and we find ways to bring life to people desperate for air.
Every decision we make is a global decision.
Like the dropping of tiny pebbles into a pond, every word and deed splashes deep in this world and then ripples out unto the farthest reaches of the shore. One standing on the other side might see the tiny motion of a minuscule wave and not realize the point from which it began, so small and insignificant it seems, but it reached that shore none the less.
It is the same with us, dear sisters. Each harsh word, every divisive comment, every hateful and smug action against one of our sisters ripples round the world and shakes deep the core of our humanity.
Likewise, every act of kindness, each word of compassion, every hand extended in peace changes the landscape of this world. Though they may not seem to splash as loudly, I believe they reverberate far deeper and reach far wider than any act of hate could ever hope to.
What if it started with me, plopping a pebble of grace here, a stone of kindness there, as I walk alongside you, my sisters? Then, what if you joined me? And then your neighbor? My teacher? What if one by one we made our mark? What if the ripples of grace and compassion surged and spread until the whole good earth resonated with the weight of it until one day, pulsed to action by the rhythm of grace, we moved together so that our grandchildren awoke to find this world a very different place?
What if they found themselves raising children alongside one another with support and love regardless of homeschool, public school, un-school, under-the-sea-school? Whether home birth or VBAC or in-the-car-on-the-way birth, each woman discovered herself and her story truly valuable? Truly beautiful?
So, sisters, on this Mother’s Day – and every day after – let’s give one another the gift of grace…and maybe a piece of cake that we don’t have to eat hiding in the bathroom…and together let’s start a ripple effect that will change this world.
I see her sitting there everyday. Rain, shine, snow, wind, she’s there.
Her skin is dark, weathered, worn. Wisps of black-grey hair peek out from underneath her near thread-bare scarf, her long skirts gathered around her legs as she sits criss cross on the sidewalk under the tree. That big tree that leafs large in the summer, rains gold in the fall and stands tall and threatening in the winter. Some days she has no shoes; today she does.
She sits and rocks gently back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, one hand clutched to her chest. Eyes distant and empty and I wonder if she wishes she was anywhere but here? What is this city to her? Home? Hell?
When someone extends enough mercy to make some semblance of eye-contact with her, she begins her plea…I’ve never been able to discern what language she speaks. Is it German? Gypsy? Romanian? I really can’t tell.
With one leathery hand she reaches out to anyone who will look; with the other she gestures to her mouth. Her eyes telling a story most of us don’t even want to imagine.
Often times I make sure I carry something extra in my purse – an apple, a granola bar, something – so I can hand it to her. I don’t like to give money. You never know what they will do with it.
Day after day I walk past her…multiple times a day I see her face, hear her garbled speech. And sometimes… I just get angry.
I wonder is she homeless? Where does she go at night? She’s never there at night. Is she embroiled in some kind of panhandling scheme? And will her handlers beat her if she doesn’t gather enough today?
Maybe she’s just unable to get a job. Or maybe she’s just too lazy to work, I think to myself on my worst days; and I hate who I am in those moments.
One day I walked past her and smiled gently, but shook my head no. Not today, I try to say with my eyes.
Later I came by again, bringing lunch home for my husband and myself. It’s our little ritual once a week on a day all the kids are in school: we treat ourselves to a tasty lunch.
I heard her mumblings before I saw her, and something stirred in my soul.
But I kept walking.
I didn’t even look at her.
After I got home, I let myself admit what I was trying to ignore down on the street: I should have given her my meal.
Even later, I needed to go to the grocery store and I told myself that if she was still there, I would buy her some food.
She was still there. This time, she didn’t look at me. She was reclining comfortably on one elbow and smoking a cigarette.
A righteous wrath burned within me. Are you kidding me?? I knew it. I knew it was all a scam. I’m sure she has enough food at home and this is just something she does for the money. How dare she!
However, while in the store I couldn’t shake that stirring from before, so I bought a bag of whole-wheat mini-baguettes.
As I neared her place, I found myself wishing I knew what to say to her. But I didn’t. We don’t speak the same language. So I just smiled sheepishly, and handed her the bread. Not knowing if she truly needed it; not knowing if she really was wanting money instead; just not knowing.
She took it and bowed her head. And then she looked at the bread as if it were gold. She looked at it the same way I looked at my first baby the moment she was born. She sighed a sigh of relief and neither one of us needed words.
I struggle sometimes balancing the mantel of being a “responsible Christian” and not perpetuating an already broken system, and having compassion and extending grace I’m sure I would hope someone would extend to me were our places exchanged.
I still have my suspicions about the legitimacy of her plight, but the truth is I have no way of knowing. And so I smile, and any time I can, I give.
And now I know her name and I can’t help but wonder…what if God is using me to call her by name?
I tried to have a conversation with her yesterday, but we speak nothing close to the same language. However, the smile on her face when she sees me coming tells me that Love rarely needs words and Grace is a universal dialect. So I will continue to operate upon the advice given to me by a friend: when in doubt, give grace.
And I will walk even more humbly with my God because what He is showing me about Himself through this woman on the corner.
I stand at the sink, sleeves rolled, heart heavy.
I dunk the plate into the bowl of as-hot-as-I-can-stand-it soapy water because the pipes have been backed up since Wednesday and the plumber doesn’t come until Monday but I need to do something.
The suds swirl and cover the dish and I scrub and I pray.
The liar whispers, “What if He doesn’t?”
“And even if He doesn’t,” I say.
If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up. Daniel 3:17-18 (emphasis mine)
It has sure felt like a fiery-furnace kind of year. I think back to this same time last year, how we prayed for God to get us back to Ireland.
And everyone asked us, “But what if He doesn’t?”
“And even if he doesn’t, He is worthy,” we replied.
The pot of cool water for “rinsing” feels refreshing as it soothes the scalding heat of the cleansing water. Like the balm of the reassurance that His ways are not mine; His ways are oh so much higher.
Dunk. Sud. Scrub. Pray.
I think of my friends with the scary diagnosis. We pray, we believe, we expect miraculous tests.
In the quiet places the accuser whispers, “He won’t.”
And we all ask, “What if He doesn’t?”
And she whispers, with trembling voice, “Even if He doesn’t, I am His.”
Dunk. Sud. Scrub. Pray.
I think of my family. The ones I love. I pray for healing. Please, God.
My own heart whispers, “But what if He doesn’t?”
Yes, even if He doesn’t, He is good. He is holy. He is kind. He is Love.
The suds are fading and the water grows cool. The dishwasher serves as a drying rack and I wipe my hands. They are rough and chapped from the heat. Like my heart.
So I pray.
And I remind myself with Truth and I thank God for His goodness…
Even if He doesn’t.
Have you ever really felt like you needed to invite a friend or acquaintance over to your house for tea or coffee, but didn’t because the house wasn’t “right?”
Yeah, me too.
You see, I’m not what you would normally consider a “homemaker.” However, I’m redefining my definition of that word. You see, I’m learning there’s a lot more to cultivating a warm, loving home than just sparkling floors and crumb-free counter tops!
Join me over at Intentional by Grace as I talk about leaving the pretense behind and getting on with loving folks! Come share about the times you’ve thrown caution – and dust rags – to the wind and allowed someone in to see the “real” you.
If you’re popping over from Intentional by Grace, I want to say thank you for stopping by! I hope you’ll make yourself at home and stay awhile. Let me know you were here so I can say hello!
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but raising kids is hard. Whether you have family around or not; a huge church or just a couple of like-minded folks; whether you have one kiddo or ten. It’s heart wrenching, twenty-four-seven, soul-aching-full-of-love hard work.
And like most things that are hard, the rewards are almost incalculable.
When that hard work includes shepherding young hearts to follow hard after Christ, and trying to set an example of how to do that when you yourself are a flawed human being, sometimes we get…tired. We need help.
Join me today at The Better Mom as I share one of my most favorite images found in Scripture, and where I extend a request to you for help – and an invitation as well. I can’t wait to see you over there and hear your story!
If you’re joining us today from The Better Mom, I just want to extend a warm welcome to you. I’m so delighted you popped over today. I hope you’ll join our little community here as we share this journey of life together. Let me know you came by so I can give you a virtual hug, a cuppa tea and get to know you a wee bit better.