October 21, 2015

Lift Me

In these days, which are leading us through fall and into the coming winter, the light is slow to wake, and so is my oldest son, who is barreling through childhood and into his coming teenage years. This morning, I turned on the hall light outside his darkened room just before 7:00, advanced warning--by way of light below his door--of my coming invasion. Giving him a moment, I opened the door to the room opposite his to find the younger two fully dressed and chatting away, immediately pushing past me to get downstairs for breakfast.
I cracked the door to the oldest's room, letting the hall light fall across his face. Despite the light, he remained tightly cocooned in his blanket, eyes closed and hair splayed with its usual morning gusto. I rubbed his head, just as I used to do when he was a toddler, when his hair felt like a brillo pad up against my chin anytime he'd plop himself in my lap. I leaned down to kiss his forehead, breathing in his scent, trying to erase the teenage must for the Johnson shampoo smell of his first years. While he continued in sleep, I took in the moment of sweet stillness, marveling and trying to remember at the same time.

I remember opening the door to his room in the mornings of his babyhood and seeing a little fellow standing in his crib, hands gripping the railing, with a big-eyed, scraggly tooth grin. Sometimes he'd been crying moments before, hungry at first light. Sometimes he'd been playing with his feet or making noises for his own amusement. As soon as I walked in the room, however, he'd always stand, move to the railing of the crib, and reach his hands up to be held.

Before the hall light and the chattering children and the sleepy almost-teenager this morning, I read Psalm 131:2: "Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me."

In the past week, following the Lord's pressing, I have felt a whirlwind of confusing emotions and dwelt on unhelpful and even harmful thoughts that have never entered my mind until now. I have uncharacteristically had difficulty discerning what is true and what is not.

At first, I wondered what the Lord was saying. When He didn't answer, I questioned what He was doing and if He loved me, and then if He was even there at all. I've cried tears of fear and anguish and confusion. I've wondered how my faith could crumble so quickly and how I could question a love that I've been certain of for so long. I felt as if I'd unexpectedly run into a wall, a wall that felt crushing and defeating.

Somehow it was reading Psalm 131:2 that did something in my soul. I thought of myself as the babe in the crib, not caged in but cared for. Protected. Loved. And I thought of God coming to me as my good, perfect loving Father, eager to find me in the morning.

Whatever this is--this moment of crisis that is so painful--in the end is His loving care of me. I resist. I wrestle. I want to escape the painful pruning and the call to submission. I want to find my way around the wall and continue on as before without changing.

But at the same time, I see that the wall is stopping me in my tracks and causing me to consider things about myself and about God and even about other people that, if I'm honest with myself, have to go. This wall is forcing my change, and that is a good thing.

I lift my arms to Him. That is literally all there is to do. I lift my arms to Him, and He holds me. I am grown, like my almost-teenage son, but I will never outgrow being a child. Perhaps the wall is a humbling reminder of this very thing.

I lift my arms to Him, not in happy delight but in tears of desperate need.
Of presence.
Of comfort.
Of help.
Of love.