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Can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky are like shooting stars...

What do you do when it just plain crazy hurts?

When things said and implied make you feel small and bruised and alone?  When relationships strain in a rattled last breath before the final death.  And you feel it there - the hollowness and the empty and the dark.  And you can’t make it stop and it’s all twitching before you and you’re twitching within.

How do you make it better?  Or just okay?

When communication happens but is dishonest or only partial information or stretched truth... what then?  What do you do when you can look at that friend or that family member, look them straight in the face and love them madly and insanely, but their words and their actions shout full and loud and you think, “You’re full of BS.  I know it and you know it and you know that I know.”  

What do you do when you’ve been slapped into the interrogation box with a jury that have long since stopped listening?  What do you do when they say they want to know your side of things but they don’t really listen for it?  Or when the verdict comes down and it’s so unfair and so untrue and injustice bleeds and you want to claw your eyes out and theirs too.

And you’re left wanting and waiting and you know the right responses.  You’ve learned them.  You know that we have to, have to forgive the way God has forgiven us.  And your mind conjures up images of how Christ Himself was scarred for us and how He knew pain and rejection and loss.  How people took His words and twisted them.  How they didn’t see the real Him, but assumed they knew all they had to.  You know you have a Savior who can not only sympathize but who can empathize.  He’s walked the hard roads and the cold roads and been left in a garden with a broken heart and blood tears while friends slept near by.  Oblivious.

You know you have to forgive and offer grace, because “That’s what Jesus would freaking do!”  You go through the motions, but your heart still beats with the drum of memories.  Memories of words slung around and calls not returned and cruel actions taken.  And the bitterness bites at your fingertips and gnaws the edges of your spirit raw... so open and torn that you consistently feel like you’re one step away from a massive meltdown - or an all-out scream-fest.

But I’m not God and I need God.  I can try to do what Jesus does and even now as I feel the remembrance of past hurts or stories friends have shared, I sigh and look up from my kitchen counter and see the words hung above my kitchen cabinets: “Live simply. Love generously.  Care deeply.  Speak Kindly.  Leave the rest up to God.”

And I want to burst into a hot mess of tears and angst because I can’t do that.  I try to live simply and instead I get stressed out.  I try to love generously but more often than not I find I am loving but with a contingency plan: love until you harm me and then no more love for you.  I try to care but sometimes a history of caring starts to get speckled and wrinkled old with bitter trails.  I try to speak kindly, but many times I’m found in the midst of full-out gossip or I step back and rattle my words back into my ears, like pennies in a can, and I find it’s so ugly and hollow and shaming.  And so then I resolve to leave it to God - the whole mess of it - but I can’t let go.  My fingers are knotted in a stringy mess, little bows tied on each of the ten to remember, remember, never forget.  And I’m left bound when all I want is to be light and free and loving.

And I wonder... in my demands to never forget, what am I trying to remember?  How I’ve been hurt?  Or misjudged?  Or treated unfairly?  Or treated with a legalist’s ruler?  Where I’ve been weighed and measured and seemingly found wanting?

“But....” my heart stutters.  “But....” my tears float on the surface of my eyes.  Since when could anyone, or should anyone, have that much power over my spirit?  And not only my own, but the Spirit of God that lives and dwells in me because of my deep hope and my deep, crushing need, for a Savior bigger than all the pain and all my need and all those heavy boxes of devastation that I keep stashed under the bed and in the shelves high in the closet?  

Who ever, ever has the right to judge and deem me or my heart this, that or the other?

I suppose they have the right, as human beings with free wills, to say what they want and believe what they want and behave however they see fit.  But that doesn’t make them right.  It doesn’t make me wrong.  Judgement or no judgement, condemnation and stones thrown aside, what power do they have over me?  If I am free... If I am His.  What control can they exhibit and why can’t I live simply and love generously or care with great, big love or speak words that are not peppered with bitterness but full-on with kindness?  Why can’t I leave the rest - the everything - up to God when I know He knows full well?

When I know He knows me full well?

And anything said or done unfairly?  He can wipe away.  Maybe not the memory.  Maybe not the physical or heart scars.  But He can take it away.  Do I believe He can make all things new?  

I find the answer late in the evening.  While Big Brother eats a cracker and I sat on the floor next to Little Brother.  My thumb nail rubbed against the remains of cradle cap that has plagued him since his first month or so of birth.  He had a furious case of it and we went through some really ugly and sometimes scary stages.  He had so many head washings and hair brushings that his fine baby hair fell out and left him bald - and still with cradle crap.  It’s all but gone now and as I rubbed away a dry flake, it hit me that I have nearly forgotten it was there at all.

A couple months ago, even last month, I was absorbed with his condition and how to remedy it.  I felt shamed and kind of embarrassed, as though I had somehow caused it by poor care or perhaps I should be a better, smarter Mama and should have known how to eradicate the problem ages ago.  I felt as though those scales reduced him; that it’s all you would see and not that precious face.  And I felt as though those same scales reduced - measured - weighed: me.  I wanted to cover his head and hang mine in embarrassed Mom-failure-shame.

But tonight as I rubbed his sweet little baby head, brushed away a left-behind dry piece of skin, I kind of smiled and it surprised me to realize that I had nearly forgotten all about the cradle cap.  When I look at Travis I see Travis.  I see that sweet face and those bright eyes and those adorable, crazy adorable, ears.  I love him so much that all I see when I look at him is perfect, complete, baby-ness.  I love every inch of him, over and over.  What’s a little cradle cap?

Where it once stood as a barrier or a block over his fresh skin, something that drove me crazy and when I looked at him, all I ever saw... now it’s just... something that was there, is there slightly still, but is healing.  And what’s more, who even cares about it?  He’s a handsome, happy little five month old bubble.  Who cares about a few annoying scalp flakes?

And I think to myself... what would it be like if I saw people with such unabashed love - the same way God looks on me - as I do when I look at my baby and the dusting on his head?  What if I knew that the scales and the ugly and the decay was there, but instead I saw them?  Not even as based as simply a human, but as someone I love.  A friend.  A family member.  Even a stranger who may not have it all together but deserves kindness and a smile regardless.  Why are we so stingy with our love and our words and our affection... 

....And our forgiveness?

We keep seeing the bad because we want to see it.  We don’t want to forget the ugly that was done or suffered or waded through.  We don’t want to forget how others sinned against us because we don’t want them to forget that we won’t ever forget.  We’re greedy and mean and self-focused.  And we can’t see for the scales on our own heads.  Or better, the scales on our eyes.

I know that bitterness does more to the person hanging on than to the person who has moved on.  Our flailing attempts to make others pay for being rotten fall flat and we are left lying in the grass, the poisoned apple still in our own hands.  We end up suffering in the beginning and suffering in the end, all because the power to change, the power to choose, the power to live in grace and live open handed with grace towards everyone, not just the nice ones, is all up to us.

What’s done is done.  Can’t be changed or erased or apologized for enough.  And if it was, would it make a difference?  Our memories still remain.  But no matter what we remember from yesterday, we choose what we see today whenever we look backwards.  When Travis turns a year old in another seven months, I doubt I’m going to look into those happy blue eyes and think, “Man, you had terrible cradle crap when you were a baby!”  I’m sure I’m going to think that he’s growing too fast, that time needs to slow down, that my child is precious and funny and more than I deserve.  

My kids are teaching me how to love whole.  The way God loves us.  So undeserving.  

So generous.  

"Owe no one anything,
e x c e p t to love 
each other..."
~ Romans 13:8


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