“It’s a bad, bad day,” I hear from the other side of the door, as the child who was just narrating her morning routine with song begins to slowly devolve into that puddle of emotions, unrestrained.
“It’s always a bad day for me. Every day is a bad day,” she says between sobs. How can the child whose mouth is so often full of praise so quickly use that same tongue to lash? Herself?
We’ve been here before. Enough times to prepare and coach when we’re not here and to pray after we’ve been here. Yet despite such focused attention, her heart-rift still lingers.
Before the sun comes up, just hours after Nate and I uttered prayers in hushed tones over her sleeping body, I ask Him for wisdom. Please heal these broken bones. Show us how to reach her.
And here she is again. Another of my days at risk of being absorbed into this vortex, I moan under my breath, feeling the weight of what’s not yet healed in her and all of its uncertainty.
Then, that night, He told me to go to her — to move from my settled place by the fire in the nook off my bedroom and crawl into bed beside her unsettled soul. She was awake when I found her, almost as if she was waiting. Her eyes were hungry, there was some need I was meeting in this out-of-the-ordinary, post-bedtime enfolding.
As I rubbed her back and smoothed the hair from her forehead, tears escaped the creases of my eyes and found the pillow we shared. There were years behind that need that I didn’t cradle. No breast to feed this hungry babe, who’s since declared “bad, bad day” over many of her well-fed moments.
I stared into eyes that were mine, of this child of my flesh born to another woman. This night was maybe more for me than for her. He was teaching me His heart in her “not yet.” His heart mourns over my wounds that linger, just as I mourn over hers. He is moved by my story.
I am the bruised reed.
And He wants to reveal to me how He responds to my own “not yets.”
There is something that happens in that space between the fruition of what I hope, pray, and train towards for her heart and right now — when she’s not there yet — that becomes the making of me. I find myself thinking that quick results in a child are the true reflection of growth in a home. I watch for movement in her, in anxious anticipation, as if the verdict is still out on me and my mothering. I have an eye for change — and change only — because change spells relief for this tired mama who hasn’t yet developed those long-suffering muscles of motherhood.
But God has another agenda for those deep-rooted issues that are slow to budge.
He is recalibrating me from results toward relationship (the shift of my life) — the kind of relationship whose real growth happens over all the not yets. Because it’s uniquely here that we see the patient hand of the Father, cupping our broken places in His hands and breathing a steady stream of life over their death-stains.
He isn’t stunted where we are.
When we are stuck, He moves, in. And towards.
Love holds and cuddles. It tickles and treasures and relishes. Not just when its recipients are fully receiving and fully whole. I read those words as truth, yet something in me resists the notion that when I am at my worst, His love can be activated.
He came for our not yets — the places in us that haven’t yet budged, the scars waiting to heal, the imperfections in our story — just as He came for theirs. The child with that unresolved issue, the one over which you’ve poured prayers and time and training, is an invitation. Their not yet isn’t a time to be tolerated, but one to be cherished. He is training your eyes to see Him and your heart to receive Him, right here in the utter weakness that threatens to reek of failure.
And if you can find Him here, His love just might pull a total-life takeover.
As I accept the invitation to meet with Him over her not yet — not with that desperate, you’ve gotta change this right now God, cause I’m just not sure how we can endure it or if she’ll ever be able to function as an independent adult if it doesn’t change! prayer — but with the expectation of a weak child who knows her Father is always waiting to display love, something shifts in the way I approach her.
He has new dimensions of His love for me, here. He has new dimensions of His love for her, here.
I receive from Him and she receives from me and we enter into that cyclical beauty — the shadow of the Trinity — for which family was intended. Both of us in our not yets.
So she melts and we talk and have that same conversation we’ve had dozens of times. I pray, again, Lord give me discernment for those wounds. And I feel the calloused hand of the Lamb, who Himself was once slain, around mine saying “we’re in this together, Me and you” and what’s dark in her life becomes light in mine.
(How I respond to the dark in her life shapes how she will one day see Him in that dark.)
I walk out hope when I carry both the understanding that there is no wasted time in God’s kingdom — that what I often deem as loss He, instead, says “these are your best days” — and that He has good in store for me and for her. Advent means both that He is coming and He has come. I live hope when I live in that nexus, not relinquishing either one.
He moves me into the unseen, where the reality He is imparting while I wait is more real than the hand in front of me. For her and for me.
And something about this not yet of hers begins to look glorious.
For Your Continued Pursuit: Matthew 5:4 | John 11: 28-36 | Exodus 34:6 | Lamentations 3:22-23 | Isaiah 42:3 | Isaiah 55:7-9 | 2 Corinthians 12:9 | Psalm 18:35 | Jeremiah 29:11-12 | 1 John 4:19 | Revelation 13:8 | John 15:9 | Psalm 27:13 | 2 Corinthians 4:18