I see their smiles now easy and free. Peace quiets worry at this sight. And joy fills my heart in the deep of night.
Most days lived under our shared roof sprawl out without much difficulty. Comfort and security exists again. I remember the days burning hot and dry when we lived a million miles from one another exiled to our own island on fire. How unending those days felt! How unrelenting those waves beat against our shore while offering no respite.
The days, weeks and months following their mother's death, my wife then, will forever be immortalized as a graceful metamorphosis on the timeline of our family, the grand redesign of us now, then and ahead. For nearly 3 years now, we have been learning life again, finding joy in mundane free from extraordinary ordeal. Finding joy in day unfolding with boring, unassuming regularity; that’s how you know your heart is beating alive and not a shell of yesteryear.
To be clear, happiness is what we pull from the sky, the smiles we try to wear as long as we can bare, but joy ...joy finds us as the sky falls to find us.
Joy swells in white flags waving and in the end of the pursuit of happiness. It glimmers rebelliously amidst darker days blanketed by fear, worry, doubt and is the praise of screw ups who know better than to trust the feeble strength of their own hand.
The light in each of their eyes dims, their faces hang in heavier moments, and I’m reminded again close to my chest I have no guarantees. Nothing promised apart from the breath drawn right now; not even the next day as I once believed.
Belief, that’s all we have and the only choice ever really needed to be made.
And that’s what fuels joy: belief.
The folly of the proud is self-reliance, but the triumph of the humble is joy despite all things, anything, independent of day, night, struggle, ease and especially fairness.
Maybe you’re like me in that I worry often as a parent. I push hard into most days and try to squeeze as much as I can out of it because there are no absolutes or guarantees that my effort put into my children will produce well - adjusted, loving people whose hearts belong to God and affections to the life given soon to them. I know as many parents who do everything as right as one can do who sit up late at night wondering what went wrong as the others who stumbled about aimlessly trampling inconsistently in selfish and ignorant circles whose kids end up running an honorable bid for sainthood.
There are simply no guarantees in life as there are in parenting. “Train up a child in the way he should go”* . . . and he may in fact stray. He may return one day to God’s grace and goodness, but maybe he won’t. No one saves, save for God. That’s why we must only believe.
Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."**
And so in our quest and effort as parents, we must courageously believe in God’s love and plan more than our pocketed strategies and parenting techniques said to tame the heart of the unruliest, liveliest little child. For when we trust in God’s ability in their lives and despite our parenting, we transcend human effort of dust trying to cover dust and allow Eternity to shape, form and guide into all ahead.
As a dad to three little beautiful girls, my heart winces a little more with each increasingly complex conversation. I do good in my own effort as their dad, but soon we’ll travel hand in hand to an impasse where my foot will slip and my hand not able to hold.
Right there my heart better be ready to let go and grab hold of God’s grace and ability. Right then, my heart must be able to believe or all that I’ve done is try diligently to look capable for as long as I could until my hand could hold no longer.
“The law says, ‘do this,’ and it is never done. Grace says, ‘believe in this,’ and everything is already done.” -Martin Luther
Believe in the future already owned by the One who purchased a day unable to be bought by impoverished hearts. Be free. Belong. Trust.
image found @ www.ronitbaras.com || *Proverbs 22:6 || **John 6:28-29