I started this last November. You know sometimes it takes us a while to put the pieces together. And sometimes the pieces don’t make any sense. For a very long time. Sometimes the pieces keep breaking and some of them get lost. Then new pieces show up and the puzzle has lost some of its meaning. And sometimes the puzzle makes you want to throw it across the room. But, sometimes, if we wait long enough, the puzzle starts to make a little bit of sense.
One piece at a time.
Please stick with the puzzle.
Here’s where the jigsaw began many months ago…
I keep looking across the room at them.
Most of the time they don’t see me looking.
Tomorrow is my birthday. The thought that I am sliding into middle age doesn’t sit long. Mostly I think of her. Forty-five years ago tonight she was on the verge of meeting her first and only girl child. The baby of the family. She was younger than I am now, but not by much. I think of the time I lay beneath her beating heart – waiting to enter this wild world. Eyes fully open.
She’s been gone from here for six months, but I see her face every day. Sometimes in the faces of my children. Sometimes behind my closed eyes. And sometimes, more often with each passing year, in the mirror.
I watch the headlines flashing across the screen and I’m almost grateful she isn’t here to see it.
The terror of it all.
She saw enough of it.
I see the faces of the refugees. Tear-stained mothers. Wide-eyed children with vacuous gazes. All swallowed by masses.
Mingled into the masses slithers the terror. The cowards hiding and sliding through the crowds. The very beasts we’ve been fighting for so very long now. The terror that has taken my babies’ daddy from them time and time again – until the absence becomes normal.
The terror didn’t just begin, you know. It began a very long time ago. The truth is the terror began when the enemy fell to earth and his hatred fueled a thousand generations of vulnerable souls. Our battle is with powers and principalities after all.
But let’s make no mistake. These powers entice and utilize the willing souls of terrorists who swarm in very real human flesh.
Then I think of her again. Terror is nothing new. I suppose my parents must have thought the end was near when they were just teenagers. Bombs rained and bullets flew through the formative years of their youth. The age I learned to drive down southern country roads, they learned to navigate a war-torn country. All lost to smoke and fire.
She told me the story over and over again. A story heard a thousand times becomes a sort of lullaby. The thrumming of a heartbeat quietly ticking – not knowing when the jolt will come.
The jolt keeps coming. Again and again. Wringing hands and clenched fists. Explosions. Chaos. Tears upon tears…
Spewing anger leaking through media madness we call “social.” I read the scrolling upon scrolling. More venom than baby pictures these days. I showed up in this social place for those baby pictures. Now the baby pictures of innocent faces are clouded by anger and hatred and fear. Isn’t this why He tells us again and again,
Do not be afraid.
Yea, but that’s easier said than done.
I wish I could tell you my opinion. But the truth is I have too many, and not one solution. Not yet.
I keep thinking of them. The war that surrounded them when they were the age of these faces watching me from across the room.
We have all these glorious, well-meaning, sometimes educated, sometimes fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants thoughts. We throw them into the wild, wild world. Mostly hoping something will right this madness. Hoping something will change. Praying Someone is listening.
And for the love of God and all things good, we are tired. And sick of it all.
But that sounds too much like complaining. Or quitting. And, friends, we just can. not. quit. The stories don’t get any prettier and our babies grow up. And sometimes we forget what the point of all this is.
I’ve wrestled with even spilling thoughts in this place. It’s personal here. Something I want to leave with my kids. And this year has left me numb and tired and wondering what do I actually want to leave with my kids?
Through the spinning and reeling and frustration of the seasons we face – and I thought things would get easier as we age – I wonder what on this gloriously beautiful and chaotically ugly earth do I want to leave here? Because, you know, we can’t leave here without leaving a mark. We all leave a mark.
The moving and upheaval and changes have about done me in this time. It’s what military wives do. It seems we can take the madness on ourselves, but we can’t stomach it for our babies. It all becomes too much sometimes. And we think we might just have reached the limit.
Like a desperate sparrow clamoring for reassurance from fresh air and skies – because I hate to admit the Heavenly answers just don’t come fast enough sometimes – I flew into a wild-eyed soliloquy. The target – my unsuspecting warrior. Sometimes they just don’t know when the sparrow has encountered the hurricane.
I’m done! I just can’t take it anymore! I’m so sick of it all going wrong.
Well, and sometimes the answers from Heaven are just waiting for you to get real.
You know… we just need to go to 30,000 feet.
Pause. Wait a minute. There’s a profound truth here. Let me just. breathe. for. one. minute. He continued,
We’re being sucked into the details. The messed up and mostly distracting details of this world.
We just need to get to 30,000 feet and look down for a few minutes.
Oh God, why can’t we just get it? We need to see from YOUR eyes. The big picture. The view from a distance that reminds us we are all crawling around here like ants on a computer screen. We just don’t know. We don’t know how this story will unfold. BUT. How many times do You have to tell us…
Do not be afraid.
My warrior called me. Another trip away from the souls he loves most. Because the earthly battles will not wane – not any time soon.
Do you know what He tells us again and again? Do you know?
Do not be afraid.
I grinned from behind sleepy eyes,
Yea, it’s like He knows, huh?
It’s not easy, my friend. I know. It’s excruciating sometimes. Like madness might finally take hold, and the mask just has to cover it all. Because, you know, appearances and all.
But, it is real. He is real. The countless ways are almost too much for the simple words etched here. He keeps showing up. He keeps answering. He keeps promising. And He does not lie. He has no need for our approval or belief. He IS anyway.
His plan IS.
His story IS.
His love IS.
No matter what or who we are.
Sometimes the sparrow has to spin through the hurricane again and again until it sees the Light is still there. No matter the darkness it encounters. The Light breaks through the storm and reminds us,
Do not be afraid.
“Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
“Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.