I was a sad child. I was a mad teenager. I worshipped dinosaur encyclopedias and novels as a child, I dabbled in witchcraft and hedonism as a teen. I found organized religion eerily similar to sheepherding. I was lost. I experienced so many of those Lifetime Movie moments- when I, alone, desperate, weeping, looked upwards pleadingly and asked, begged, that God wave his majestic wand and make it all better. And he didn’t.
Now I believe in a God who doesn’t have a wand. He may not even have a plan. What he does have, and that I may still be lacking, is tremendous patience, and faith. He saw in that tearful girl the woman who would someday read “Goodnight Moon” to her blankie-clutching boy, who would wrap herself in children and husband on her big bed before sleep and shake with the impossibility of being given all of this.
So I grew up. I graduated from college. I found a career. I found a husband whose heart is so big it scares me sometimes. I gave birth to two beautiful children. And somewhere in there I found gratitude. Through my gratitude I found faith. And now, I still may find myself weeping, still looking heaven-ward, but instead of mouthing “why?”, I am mouthing “thank you”.
Every night while my children sleep, I tiptoe into their rooms and rest my hand on their backs, partly to feel them breathe, and partly in hopes that even in their dreams, especially in their dreams, they will feel my presence and know I love them. When I was a child, I thought that God, in some lavish attempt to convince me- a five year old- of his existence, would come down from the heavens, hold me while I cried, kiss my forehead and tell me everything was going to be OK, and then make it so. Now I believe that God is more like that hand on my children’s backs while they sleep. God may very well hold me while I cry, he may kiss my forehead and soflty console, but I must be the one to make it OK. And with him there at my side, his hand resting on my back, feeling my breath, I will.
I believe faith is in those moments when we guess, when we know, that there’s something bigger than us in the room. My faith was at my college graduation, the only one in the room not surprised that I made it. My faith walked me down the aisle at my wedding. There is no way I would have made it through childbirth, twice, without my faith there rubbing my back in between contractions. My faith helped rouse me in the middle of the night and feed my hungry babies, and helped me make it through the next day on three hours sleep.
In the middle of each night, long after I take my hand from my children’s backs and tuck them into their blankets, my faith remains in the room with them, carrying them safely through the night. Only then, nestled in my gratitude in the next room, can I sleep too. With God checking on me periodically, his hand resting softly on my back.
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