When I was younger a sort of fearlessness marked my life. At least I would have liked to have thought of myself as a “dare-devil.”
The potential for skinned knees never kept me from roller blading or skate boarding (no I was not an Avril Lavigne wanna-be… okay, so maybe I was), the possibility of broken bones never kept me from trampoline flips, and the horror stories about getting stuck upside down never kept me off roller coasters. I was always up for trying. If I fell I got back up and tried again, and again, and again.
At a distinct point in my life I vividly remember confidently climbing up a cliff, only to look down at the water below with weak knees and a sinking gut. I actually wanted to climb back down. I was partially afraid and partially ashamed at myself. I didn’t want to feel that way. I was supposed to get to the top, run… and jump. With no hesitation.
I was brave.
Why couldn’t I shake this fear?
This sinking and crippling feeling has become much too familiar in my life since that day. I have become more aware of the waters below. The older I have gotten, the more anxious my heart has become… The more anxiety has yelled in my ear that the only way to respond is to “climb back down.” That I must crumble and cower. That I must submit to these powerful fears.
This anxiousness of spirit increased in a new way upon becoming a parent.
It’s ironic how the gift I once resented is now the gift I clinch ever so tightly. Too tightly. I cried out to the Gift Giver, “Why are you giving this to me right now?” and now I cry out “you better never take this from me!”
I often physically shutter at the thought of ever losing my daughter. Now that I know life with her, I don’t want to ever know it without her.
It stops me in my tracks to think I wouldn’t hear the pitter-patter of little feet coming to greet me at the door. I can’t imagine hearing music come on the television and her not being there to run up to it and dance. I can’t imagine not looking into those curious eyes, seeing that warm smile, feeling little trusting hands, or hearing her silly laugh.
But that’s just it, I can’t imagine it.
I will always remember the words of my RA in college telling me that we are not given specific grace for our imaginations. Instead, we are given grace if and when that day comes. That worst fear becomes true. That nightmare becomes reality.
When I was about 10 years old our house burned down. My parents “watched” our possessions and (more importantly) our tangible memories go up in flames. I will always remember my mom saying that if she was ever told years before it that our house would burn down, she “wouldn’t know how to handle it.” But my mom’s answer to the question, (along with so many others who have suffered much worse) “How? How do you handle it?” Was the resounding and genuine response of, “Specific grace.”
God apportions grace how and when needed.
It doesn’t take the sting away. But his grace meets us where we are at. It comforts. It gives a peace that passes human understanding.
TURNING OUR WHAT IF’S INTO EVEN IF’S
This has been one of those pieces of advice that I think and hope will always stay with me. Life is full of what if’s. …What if they crash? What if it hurts them? What if this is the last time?
As hard as it is to swallow, what if’s will always be linked to uncertainty.
Uncertainty can cripple us or free us.
I am learning more all the time how little control I actually have. I hold on as if my grip is tight enough that nothing can slip through. I build walls as if they are big enough to keep it all out. I make plans as if they have the power to prevent something or prosper something.
The fact of the matter is, I am not in control. I can never hold tight enough, build high enough, or plan well enough. Circumstances change. People fail.
BUT … but. That is such a good word. It is a comfort to the weary soul. While “what if’s” remind us there are uncertainties in this life, “even if’s” remind our feeble hearts and grasping hands, there is also certainty. The certainty does not come in the form of a what, but the form of a who. The what is shifting sands but the who is a solid rock.
God’s word says we become his children only through trusting that his son is who he says he is. Only through bowing our knee to Him as King. Only by looking at Jesus’ death on the cross and saying “it was MY sin that hung him there… and it is HIS sacrifice alone that will free me from this enslaving sin that separates me from God.” He is ours and we are His through Christ alone.
United with Christ we can look at God, who we have been restored to, and shout to our hearts
Even if…. He is near.
Even if…. He will never leave us.
Even if… He loves me.
Even if… there is hope.
Even if… He is faithful.
Even if… He is good.
I want to open my hands to receive good gifts from my Father with thanksgiving. And I want to keep those same hands open and give back to Him in trust. I brought nothing into this world and I can take nothing out of it (1 Timothy 6:7).
SO FLY, LITTLE ONE
You, sweet child, are not ultimately ours.
We will do what we can to protect you. To keep you safe. Your life is precious. Your life is valuable.
But don’t be afraid to fall. To fail. To get hurt. To lose.
Instead.. Try. Give. Go. And live.
Stand on the cliff and jump into the waters.
….You are in good hands.