We’ve been in the car a lot lately. Kasen and Kesleigh are pretty good travelers, but on our way back from Ft Worth recently, Kasen had a little meltdown. He was tired of being in his car seat, and kept repeating, “I want you.” to Miranda and I. It’s a phrase that he says quite often when he wants us to hold him, but the number of times he repeated it that day in the car was overwhelming. Sometimes we can get away with just holding his foot, but he was having nothing of it that day. By the end, he was screaming “I want you!!!” over our explanations of why he had to stay in his car seat. He asked. He cried. He yelled. He squirmed. He mumbled. He kicked. Whatever it took – he was willing to try anything to be with us. Unfortunately, for his safety we couldn’t allow it.
Do I scream “I want you!” to God like that? Am I willing to do whatever it takes to be with Him? When I feel trapped, do I cry to Him at all? Or do I just squirm around trying to get myself out of the mess on my own? When I do cry out to Him, what if He remains silent ’cause He sees some sort of danger or purpose that I can’t see?
I had a little fatherhood metaphor moment over the holidays. Remember the old “Footprints in the Sand” poem? (You know the one where the guy can’t figure out why God left him when things got tough and God said, “That’s when I was carrying you.”) I was walking with my son, Kasen through the snow and he decided that it’s wasn’t much fun so he stopped and cried holding up his hands for daddy to pick him up. I did. Anyway, I went back and filmed the footprints a few minutes later. I wonder how many times, God has picked me up? I suspect that He’s probably carrying me right now as I struggle through this time with no job. Anyway, here’s the video:
No matter where you are in life, you can probably say, “Wow! I’ve never been here before. Life has thrown some things at me, but I’ve never felt like this before.” It seems that even in our “normal” everyday lives, there’s still always something new – something different that turns things at a new angle so it all seems new. Consequently, we’re always breaking new ground – walking into uncharted territory. New terrain is normal – it’s what we do, if we’re alive. This means we’ve gotta always be ready for the unexpected and it also means that life is truly an adventure.
During our time at my mom’s house for the hurricane evacuation, I was watching Kasen and learned something about new terrain. Let me explain: He has been walking for about a month, but he’s still working on it. He still stumbles around a bit when there’s an incline or a little step – or if he’s going from concrete to grass, etc. My mom has a concrete porch in the back of her house with stepping stones in the grass leading to another bricked area with a porch swing. The weather was beautiful while we were there so we spent quite a bit of time outside. Kasen loved the stepping stones, but couldn’t navigate them very well. They were too far apart for him to use them properly, and so he would step into the grass and then up on a stone, then down into the grass again. . . .you get the picture. If I walked all the way out to the swing, he’d just stop and cry for me to pick him up and take him there, but if I went a couple steps ahead of him. . .he’d give it a shot and walk to me. He fell almost every time he went from the stone to the grass, but each time he got up again and would clap for himself and say “Yeah.” (That’s something else he’s learned recently.) Each time I’d join him in the applause and he’d continue. Whenever he made it without falling, he also clapped and I joined him then too. He needed the encouragement either way – besides that, the applause is what made the whole experience fun. As a father, I loved cheering for him when he’d get up after a fall and also when he made the step and kept his balance. I know he loved it too.
I wonder if this hurricane and the new terrain that we’re learning to navigate is similar? Do we have enough people around us who will cheer for us whether we succeed or fall? Are we being the kind of people who will cheer for others either way? As we enter into this new terrain, will we continue to walk – taking one step at a time, or will we be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task? Do we have people in our lives who will go with us through it all without getting too far out ahead? Will we go through it with others?
For that matter – isn’t this the case with anything new in our lives? Isn’t it better when we do it together? When there are people to encourage us and walk through it all with us?
Tears soothe the eyes. They moisturize the dryness. They soothe. It’s a mystery to me how this works, ’cause it goes way beyond soothing just our eyes. Tears soothe our hearts. They remind us we’re alive. Tears affect our hearts, but they also express them. The greatest moments of our lives, both good and bad, are usually accompanied by tears.
This past week (Skiing in New Mexico) was the first time I left Kasen and Miranda for any real
length of time. I didn’t really imagine how difficult it would be, but
as the day approached, I could feel these emotions welling up inside
me. I had worked all day getting ready for the trip. I loaded the church vans with the youth that night and then went back home to finish my personal packing. I had hoped to finish early so I could just cuddle with Miranda bit and play with Kasen, but they were both in bed before I was anywhere close to being ready. Then I realized, I couldn’t find my wallet. I searched everywhere. . . . Nothing. . . .what could I have done with it? Where could it be? Oh wait. . .maybe I left it in the church van when I went to gas it up. I left the house to look ’cause I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep without knowing. I found it in the van. My mind raced back and forth over all the things I had to do to get ready as I drove home. “I think I’m finally ready.” I thought as a unlocked the door to the house. I wasn’t all the way in the door and I could hear Kasen crying in his crib. “Yes!” I thought – maybe I’m demented for being happy he was upset, but that meant that I could go and comfort him. I picked him up gently and held him close as I snuggled into the rocking chair. I whispered to him and prayed over him as I rocked. It was such a tender amazing moment. I didn’t really expect it, but I cried. I did the same a few moments later as I laid down to bed next to Miranda and prayed over her as she slept.
It’s amazing to think about now. My son was actually comforted by my voice and touch. What an honor and privilege it is to be given that kind of influence and trust. I wonder now – was he more comforted by me? or was I more comforted by his total dependence and trust?
On Maundy Thursday, we did a small service and remembered the events of the last supper. As I told the story to our students, I cried again. Jesus loves us wholeheartedly. That night He had an intimate moment with His closest friends, and He gave Himself completely to them. Just as I had done with Kasen, I remembered how He had whispered to them and prayed over them. I was comforted by him. Was He comforted by my dependence and trust?
Tears reveal our hearts and soothe our hearts. If tears accompany the greatest moments of our lives, then our tears also reveal our values. What we cry about, is what’s important to us. I think I can live with that – ’cause that means that Jesus is important to me and that Miranda and Kasen are important to me.