I’m sitting in the grey light of a Friday morning, at the tail end of a week when it has rained and monsoon like winds have gusted, shaking down the the final bursts of autumn color. It’s the tipping point of the year, the final week before November when we cross into the shorter days, the days where night wraps it’s long arms around us before dinner is even set on the table.
I’m bracing myself.
In the living room, the kids are playing a game of imagination. It’s Friday and we’ve done reading books on couches, and we’ve baked muffins. It’s been a long, slow, week. We need this.
Through my doorway, I can see Evaline, feigning to be frightened for the purpose of their game, her shoulders are tucked up to her chin and her hands are clasped together at her lips.
Asher bends down and tells her, sternly, Evie, it’s okay. Do you believe in God?
Any house where you believe in God, it has a force-field around it. So guess what, monsters can’t even get IN.
Lila tosses her hands up in the air and looks to the ceiling with all the wonder of a seven year old, Don’t you see it? Nothing bad can happen here!
Lila takes Evie’s hand, and they twirl around. Asher skitters after them, kicking his heels up.
Life is perfect. We’re in a bubble.
Don’t you see it? Nothing bad can happen here.
I sat a kitchen table, once, looking out over a small dirt side street on an early spring evening. I was in the apartment of my Romanian host family, with a Romanian New Testament and Psalms open on the table. I was underlining verses. I was translating. I was taking notes. I was praying.
It was dusk, and outside, I watched men with mules and carts wandering the dusty road back to their houses.
Love. I scribbled, doodled like a teenager girl, in the margins of a notebook.
It was the overflow of my heart. It was the first time I fell in love. And there wasn’t any body with a hand to hold, or a kiss to share.
It was the first time, I fully felt myself in love with the God who had brought me there. The pink and purple sky folding itself downward over the tops of the buildings, laying down for the night to come, the sounds of footsteps still moving homeward toward supper, the open pages of the Bible on the table. The moment, it’s sealed on my heart, like the memory of a lovers’ kiss.
My host mother shuffled in to the kitchen and began slicing potatoes to fry on the stove top and we shared a smile. Romaneste? She asked me, glancing briefly down at the Bible. I nodded. Is good.
And it was.
Two years later, I would be home and engaged to be married.
Two years later, my host mother would be dead. She died not long after I came home, from a cancer that was probably there, already starting, in that kitchen moment. In the moment I felt closest to God, there were cells, just an arm’s length away from me, multiplying and strangling and killing this woman as she made her husband supper.
Don’t you see it?
Nothing bad can happen here.
Except, none of that is true, Asher, Lila, Evie and Alex.
The badness gets in. The hurt gets in.
And it’s more real than monsters.
I once had the faith of a seven year old, arms open wide, face to the clouds.
But, where once, I sat wistfully looking out into the twilight hours and marveling at the goodness of my God, now I grumble and huff over forgetting the milk at the grocery store and getting the kids to karate on time, and I seem to need him only in the moments where clearly he seems to be missing.
Or worse, I don’t remember to need him at all.
I’m not the same girl who doodled love in the margins of notebooks, and who sat wistfully looking out into the twilight hours and marveling at the goodness of my God.
Because, how can I explain this good God to the family who has been broken? How can I reconcile this loving God to the loved ones who have lost babies, lost parents, lost spouses? How can I reconcile a God who loves, with a world where unwanted divorces happen, and where love itself is being redefined, where it’s growing and challenging and changing, everything.
How can I explain, to anyone at all, how I hold myself at arm’s length in my own walk with my first true love?
And how do I explain to my children, that though they are forever protected and safe through the blood of the cross, they can still be hurt. Badness can still get in.
And it will.
On the heels of conversations I’ve had with Jenny this week, and after a day spent reading these two posts (For a Faith that Wanders and One Dangerous Question), hearing the conversations about faith and protection coming from the lips of my, completely unaware of the conversations I’ve been having, children, I can’t not pause.
I just can’t not.
I don’t wonder in my faith, if God is real, if God is present.
I know he is. I know it in an unshakable and terrifying and comforting, all at once, knowledge that nestles itself in the core of my heart.
I do not wander down paths of doubting anything other than myself and my own abilities to comprehend that which once seemed clear as glass.
So, I’m pausing.
I’m all ears.
I’m all heart, God.
What say you?