I know being outside breathing in fresh air, feeling the sun on my face and moving my feet at whatever pace feels right is all good for me. However, ever since I ditched the ear buds on my walks, my thoughts are much more intrusive than I’d prefer. Many times I end up crying while walking – maybe that’s good for me too.
Overall I’ve been on good terms with God throughout the last few weeks. Free will means God doesn’t control everything. God didn’t plan this or want this for me. God is with me in my suffering. However, yesterday I had to lay a few things out for God while I was walking…
From as far back as I can remember I loved to play with dolls. This isn’t because my parents only bought me “girl” toys – I just loved dolls. I had most of the variations of Cabbage Patch Kids. I had one doll that was very life-like – it was occasionally used for Baby Jesus on Christmas Eve. I also had all the necessary doll accessories that Cabbage Patch sold in addition to the Strawberry Shortcake refrigerator. And, there was one time I convinced my mom that I needed real diapers. I loved playing with my dolls.
When I was eleven I started babysitting. Barb was a first time mom who worked from home – she was a writer, maybe she taught too, I can’t remember. I started helping her when her first daughter, Anna, was only six weeks old. Once when we were changing Anna’s diaper, she peed all over the changing table. Barb was a bit overwhelmed, so together we got everything cleaned up and Anna was good to go. From an early age I was comfortable around babies.
During summers in college I worked at the Jewish Community Center in the 1s and 2s rooms. We went swimming every day and took naps and played. I watched them figure out words and food and toys. I still have pictures somewhere of all these little people who are all probably nearing the end of high school now.
I remember when my first niece was born. Watching my sister-in-law labor was one of the most amazing moments of my life. She was so strong and brave and in the moment. Yes, she’s eleven years younger than me – but I wanted to be like her some day. And then meeting Rosemary – I can’t describe the love I felt for this tiny little baby. Now there are four precious little girls who light up when I walk in the room – or when my face pops up on the phone.
On Brad’s side we have two nephews and one niece – with the exception of a year, I’ve been part of their entire lives too. Watching Brayden grow up is so fun. Now we have conversations about dog poop and how he knows where the moles are in our backyard – it turns out almost-five-year-old Brayden knows pretty much everything. Being an aunt, I thought, was just one step closer to my heart’s desire…
So God, here’s the thing. You made me this way. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Ps. 139:13). I know lots of people who weren’t created with a heart for children. People who don’t desire to care for and love babies. People who are annoyed by all the questions and who dread talking with teenagers. You didn’t create me like that though, did you? You created me with a heart that loves them from day one until forever. I remember making funny faces at Anna when she was crawling and she laughed and laughed. I remember sitting in the baby pool with those toddlers and they crowded around me, wanting to be closer. My lap isn’t big enough for Rosemary and Anastasia and Juliet and Maggie – all who want to be the one sitting on me. Laughing with Brayden and celebrating with Hudson and picking out a ridiculously cute outfit for Ivy – it all brings me so much joy. This is who I am. I even enjoy them when they’re awkward middle schoolers and independent high schoolers. Each age has something so beautiful to offer.
God, if you love me – change my heart, take away my desire, make me like one of those other people who don’t care. Do something. Make this better.
And, as I cried, trying not to sob on my walk, I thought about my parents – the two people who love me more than anyone else in the world. If they could fix this, they would. If they could take away my pain, it would already be gone. It was in that moment that I understood God a little better. I understood how God hurts too. And so, in my last pose of yoga yesterday, laying flat on the floor with my arms along my side and with my hands open, I imagined God on one side and Jesus on the other – both laying next to me with their hands in mine. I felt their hands in my hands. We just lay there together. Nothing could be said to fix it. Nothing could be done to make my pain go away. We just held hands. And that was enough.
As much as I want my heart to change, I know if it did, my love for Brayden, Rosemary, Anastasia, Juliet, Ivy, Hudson and Maggie wouldn’t be the same. And, I don’t want that to ever change. So I have to find a space where I can hold joy and pain together – a space where I can sit with both. Because when I lose one, I lose something much more. I need to get comfortable living in the tension of joy and pain because I think this is where I’ll be for quite some time.