“I miss her, Mommy,” she says of her biological mother, finally releasing the tears that had been locked within her gait for a day.
A whole heck of a lot of “missing” was wedged into that one innocent phrase. She used the only words she had.
My little girl was physically missing all that this one woman was while her everyday life had the imprint of all that this one woman wasn’t. Her life held a lot of “missing.” More than a cuddle and a kiss goodnight and fantasized memories was the ache of a child whose life went unwitnessed for all the mile-markers you and I put on facebook and in those baby books. I don’t know when she lost her first tooth and she doesn’t remember being potty-trained.
She sure was missing her biological mommy — and who am I, here, holding pieces of this story that’s nowhere-near-whole, trying to make sense of a pain that I know is much deeper than she even feels?
This time around we holed her up in her bedroom with her very own moleskine and a few colored pencils and a simple instruction: talk to Him, baby girl. I knew that He sees what I don’t see.
An hour later she came out, full, that broken gate now lifted, with pages of pictures. “This is me in the garden with God, Mommy,” she says, acknowledging the black squiggly-line in her picture as a snake under her foot. She didn’t have words — only tears — for her grief, hours earlier, but Someone spoke into that wordlessness.
My wee thing encountered God. He didn’t toss platitudes about “The Christian Life” her way nor give her flat instructions for slightly-better eight year-old living. He didn’t send her on a mission. He took her for a walk in His garden. (And, apparently, He gave her gleeful power over a snake.)
Four and a half years in — and, in some ways, their issues are bigger than they were when I pressed their faces against mine for the first time. Home is now safe and safe means it’s safe to unravel. What once was belligerent behavior is now the unearthing of pain. Serious pain. Blood was spilled on their childhood. What do you do with that stain?
Yet on the outside they curl up by the fire and read books and play checkers. Their scars, to most, are hidden behind their hair bows. But we see it and they see it. We can’t avoid it.
And there’s something crazy-beautiful about the inability to put a neat little cap on this loss.
The first time I cried in front of Nate was the night he fell in love with me.
We watched some stupid movie and my guard was down and my heart got triggered. I let the tears slide down my cheeks, salty all the way into my lips, in hopes that he wouldn’t notice. But they wouldn’t stop falling.
I couldn’t hide behind myself any more that night.
He saw something there.
An “automaton” was what he used to call me. It was as if I’d been programmed in one direction and nothing would get in my way — definitely not feelings.
For years I lived like this. Just live, don’t feel. Feeling hinders living and achieving. But what happens when those feelings don’t answer when called upon any more? What happens when they won’t bend to your will?
“I miss her, Mommy,” says the girl who can’t bottle that loss for another day. She can live an outwardly-ordered childhood. She can say “yes, ma’am” and memorize scripture and clean her bedroom and read the classics and score the winning soccer goal, but if that torrent stays snapped-shut, she’s missed opportunity for the very thing that will give flight to her life: relationship with God.
A phrase we toss around but miss in its meaning.
Do I really relate to God? Do I take the inner movements of my heart and turn them into conversation with Him? All the inner movements?
When my heart is wounded by a friend (albeit a small “ouch”), when Nate and I aren’t connecting like I want, when I’ve read something online that makes me feel all small and insecure on the inside, when I’m lonely — these dissmissables want to hang out in my periphery, acting as if they don’t really have an impact on my spiritual growth, when not one of them goes unnoticed by Him.
We were made to talk to God and our own personal sense of loss or lack or loneliness doesn’t require a detour during which we can address it. How we handle these things isn’t peripheral to our relationship with Him, it is the very starting place for conversation. When we’re bone-dry and our hearts feel cold, the first question to ask is “what am I withholding from my conversation with God?”
“I’m not that deep,” says the one who wants to pass off a dry heart as a personality quirk. Said me, years ago. But we were made in the image of our Maker and our Maker is deep. We wait for the fireworks of our faith — the mission, the promotion, the opportunity, the door wide-open, the evangelistic escapade — all the while He’s whispering, talk to Me about what hurt today.
She missed that mommy’s hug and He met her right there.
We live in an unfeeling world that’s persuaded us, I think more than we know, towards numbing the very feelings that crack open our hearts to receive His love.
We can’t know Him as Comforter if we don’t, first, mourn – even the little things.
Is today a day to grab your own moleskin, some colored pencils and time with Him and ask Him to meet You in that very feeling you’ve been hoping would just go away?
Making it Practical:
To have an appropriate perspective on our emotions and the role they play in our walk with Him, we have to start with His Word. There’s no better time than now to ask Him about your heart, while searching His Word for scriptures that describe His emotions. They’re in there and, though you may be surprised, they aren’t buried. If this concept of exposing your emotions in a conversational way to God is new or uncomfortable, might I suggest a study on the emotions of God’s heart?
One of the ways I’m applying this understanding of who He is as a relational God to my own everyday living, is by adoring Him. There is a community of us adoring Him over here, and a few posts below that unpack the notion of adoration:
For Your Continued Pursuit: Matthew 5:4 | Isaiah 51:3 | Psalm 18:4-6, 19 | Psalm 42:7 | Psalm 27:4, 6-10 | Genesis 1:27
Photos compliments of Mandie Joy.