Courage

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“Courage is fear holding on a minute longer.” – George S. Patton

Last week was a tough one.  My son had “mystery pain,” which is something that can darn near drive you to tears when you have a sweet 10-year-old with a high pain tolerance and limited ability to tell you exactly what hurts.  We also went to an orthopedic appointment and got good news and tough news:  No surgery now, and we may be able to avoid many orthopedic surgeries, BUT/IF we think harder and faster about the elephant – DEEP BRAIN STIMULATION.  (Just the thought makes me wonder how to trip my own brain into a peaceful state.)

So, I go to the gym and I pound what I can into a treadmill.  (I’ll go ahead and tell you, I use the term “pound” here with a smirk.  I may see myself like that cut girl in the sportswear ad, but I’m still taking things fairly easy.)  I listen to Psalms, but after just a couple minutes I have to stop listening.  My heart jumps into my throat and I hit pause.   Words echo and I struggle to understand.

“How long?  How long, Oh Lord?”
“Why do you hide your face from me?”

_____________

I wouldn’t have missed it for anything, nor would she have let me.  After weeks of talk, the day had finally come.

In a sea of fuzzy pjs, there she was – perched in dead center, my baby in the kindergarten play.  Her smile, her tiny hands in motion, her little body dancing.  She was all I could see.  My heart caught in my throat.  How could this girl be mine, my baby, my curly-haired (and slightly frizzy) bubble of life?

I saw her – smiling, dancing, searching.  Can anyone put into words that delight and terror a mother feels, watching her child take a stage, share a skill, step out into the big wide world and dare to live?

I only had eyes for her.  She did me proud as her eyes sparkled and she danced happily through the motions, but the whole time she never stopped looking, combing the crowd to find me.  And I was there.  I was unabashedly waving and gushing, but her stage was lit.  The gym was dark.

She couldn’t see me.

Then they all pulled out their teddy bears.  My heart sunk.  Her expectant smile turned into something else.  Her arms were empty – no bear.  She didn’t miss a move.  In sync with her classmates, she did every move that she had rehearsed, but this time with empty arms.  The distance across the gym faded into inches.  I could feel hot tears welling in her eyes.  All I wanted to do was hold her.  I mentally wished us away to safety, to a hug and cuddles; she, the bear, and I.

That morning after she’d already left for school, I saw her bear on the floor.  I’m not normally the helicopter mom, but I knew this was a big deal.  No harm in saving her this time. I’d grabbed it on my way out the door to her brother’s doctors appointment, or so I thought.  But when we got to the school, it didn’t actually have it.  Apparently thinking about doing a thing and doing it aren’t the same {face palm}.  I asked a teacher, she said they had an extra for her.  Day saved.

Or maybe not.

For whatever reason, her arms were empty.  As they moved through their adorable songs, with everyone else was snuggling their favorite bear as they sang, my baby hugged the air, and kept scanning.  I could feel it – her fighting to control every muscle in her face even as I battled contortions in my own.

By some miracle, we both held it together, sometimes by a thread, but for the entire play she was searching, keeping it together, riding on the tide of those around her – because it was all she could do.  She moved along without the comforts of the plush toys in everyone else’s arms, longing to know that someone who loved her, someone who had eyes for her, was there – cheering her on.

…and I was there.  I was hurting to know that she felt so alone when she didn’t have to.  I was wishing her to believe I was there, even if she couldn’t see me.  She had my full attention, all of my love.

Hugs and tears came after.

The next day she got the schools award for “courage” from her teacher.

________

 

I imagine the refugee mothers, struggling to keep their little ones alive.  I see my friends in the ICU, holding cradling their big boys, sometimes for months that add into years.  (They have words and questions too tough to utter.)  I see a friend with heart broken, separating from her husband. I see my friend that lost her boy just months ago.  I see the momma worried about bullying.  I see my own fears about my boy’s future, the knots in my shoulders.  All of us, all of our worries, all of the uncertainty, all of the fear.  They all take the voice of this displaced king living in a cave – no place to lay his head, no idea of how many years, how much suffering lay before him, no idea of when relief when come.

There we stand, in our pj’s hugging the air and searching, searching for our Daddy, on the edge of tears. Wanting to hide, wanting to run, but front and center.  We can not run and we can’t see the one thing that we most desperately want to power us through – the smile of our parent, and we lack the comforts that it seems everyone else has.

The thing we want to hug is not in our arms.  Our Dad isn’t there.

Or is he?

Does he sit in the crowd on the edge of his seat, begging us to believe what we cannot see?  Begging us to know, to have confidence in His love, in His presence.

He is there.

I take another breath and I remember the words that made me hit that pause button, the words that come after outcry, words that I stretch forward to grab hold of, to abide in:

I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

Psalm 27: 13-14

May we all have the courage we need – the courage to wait, to wait until we can see our Father.

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