Tonight, I walked upstairs, brushed my teeth as my husband filled me in on current events, and then I committed to one last Facebook check before putting the phone down for the night. And as I scrolled I saw a picture of a young boy, whose story I have been following, curled up on a rug next to a toilet. His head was bald and his frame, frail. Cancer. Cancer sucks. Childhood cancer is the devil.
I started to read the comment attached and immediately realized that this sweet boy had lost his fight. I said to my husband, who was now drifting off to sleep, “I hate it so much when a little one I’ve been following passes away.” And then I continued reading. The story that unfolded, unfolded me. I bawled right there. The bravery of this small child…the fight…the agony and strength of his mother…the timing of his passing…the miracle of his final moment…and the overbearing wondering of “why”…”why do they die, Lord?”…it was too much.
This story, on the heels of the tragedy in Syria…the stories and images of children…babies…gasping for air like helpless fish out of water…it’s too much.
Truth Be Told…
I’ve written posts like this before, and I can’t avoid writing them. I may be greeted with new unsubscription notices by morning, but I can’t care about that. This blog is first and foremost for my daughters. It’s the little bit of me that they will have once I’m gone. The parts of me that I shield them from – the fears, the failures, the joys, the love… Everything I am, I let seep out into this place. And right now, everything I am feels broken.
We spend our days looking for the good…as we should, but we know deep inside that it’s too much. The world and it’s pain is too, too much. The mothers burying their babies…the wars that seem too far gone and beyond our control…the loneliness and pain out there…it’s too much. So, we do our best to put on our brave faces and put on that joy and we smile…we worry about sporting events, and finding the right dresses for special occasions, and whitening our smiles (hello, me), and which series to watch on Netflix…
We fill our minds and our time with so much stuff that, at least in my case, it numbs the reality of what’s going on in the world, in our communities, and even in our own homes.
We Are Meant for This…
I am a burden-bearer. That’s what I do. I am a worry-wart. That’s a battle I fight. I am a “highly sensitive person”. I feel all the feels about all the things all the time. That’s who I am.
It’s exhausting. So I try to keep that barrier intact – the one that keeps “the feels” in check and censors the heartache out there. But then, I have a night like tonight when I let the stories in, and I’m caught up in the flood of emotions that come with being human.
I believe that we are meant to care. We are meant to weep and mourn. We are meant to stop injustice. We are born to be light and love and hope. We are destined to win the war against evil and disease and heartache. We are created in the image of God, and that means feeling all the feels about all the things all the time.
A Thousand Grains of Rice…
This morning, my smallest two children decided that it would be a grand idea to dump an entire Ziploc bag of uncooked rice on the kitchen floor. It was “raining” on Barbie and her friends. It rained, alright. I’m pretty sure that it poured, and I came out to a thousand grains of rice, if not more, everywhere I looked.
A few years ago now, I read a book called, Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters!, and then in 2015, I read the complementary book, Hands Free Life: 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More. In those books, the author, Rachel Macy Stafford, depicts an event that ultimately set her on a course to shift the culture of her home and one that completely changed her outlook on both parenting and life. It was a story of her daughter spilling rice in the kitchen.
The event this morning transported me to that very moment, and I contemplated quickly how best to react. Because of Rachel’s words and her decision to share that experience, I was able to make a better choice. There were no tears, no screams, no condemnation… And tonight, after reading the heart-wrenching update on that dear boy, it felt as though I was seeing my days here on earth as those thousand grains of rice, scattered across the floor. Each moment, so tiny, each day, so seemingly insignificant, but they’re all I have.
What Really Matters…
At the end of my days, and I beg God that my end comes far off from now and while my children are all healthy and thriving, I want to know that I didn’t squander those small moments. I want my life to mean something. I want my time here to be worth something. I want to be remembered well and leave a strong legacy, but more than any of that, I want to close my eyes for the last time knowing that I spent every grain loving these people so truly and so deeply. I want my girls to see my adoration in every look and feel how my heart beats for them with every touch.
This post isn’t to condemn myself or anyone else, it’s a wake up call. Yes, I will place my whitening toothpaste order tomorrow. Yes, I will probably talk to people about Plexus. Yes, I will most-likely still look for an Easter dress this week. But you know what…I don’t really care about all that stuff much anymore.
I care about the Syrians dying, and I will hit my knees.
I care about that boy’s mother and her broken heart, and I will hug my children harder and longer.
I care about my babies and husband, so I will put my phone down, shut the computer off, and be their world and let them be mine.
Everything else is meaningless, isn’t it?
And when I feel that creep, Fear, start to steal my sound mind, I will remind my soul that my King sits on the throne. My God is at the helm of our days and this broken world, and it will be well. The world may overwhelm, but He told us that He overcame the world. The news may feel dark, but we know the Light and carry it inside of ourselves. The days may feel insignificant, but they are precious – so precious that He has them counted and numbered and recorded. Let’s treat them as such – precious, worth measuring and well-remembered.
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. – Psalm 90:12
Yes, Lord, teach us. Teach us to appreciate the brevity of this day and also to take all of the hurt and pain around us to You in prayer. Encourage our hearts with the understanding that the prayers we pray will impact the world from this moment into eternity. Let us not be afraid to feel all the feels about all the things all the time, but let us instead use that awareness to make each grain of rice count. Amen.