When we tell the stories of our lives, we tend to sort of “bullet point” the big events and leave out the details. These details may be mundane, or they may be lessons learned, or personal growth made, but we leave them out in the interest of time, and to spare whoever is on the receiving end of our stories every detail, from what brand toothpaste we use to how our faith was stretched during a decade-long life lesson.
I think that sometimes the details are as important as the bullet points. There can be a pack of lessons learned and wisdom gained behind one little sentence. For example, a bullet point to the story of my life is:
-I was told by numerous doctors that I would never have children, and I have given birth to two.
Behind that simple sentence are years of longing, disbelief, agony, prayers, tests, doctors, diagnosis, surgeries, and fertility treatments. Also behind that sentence are lessons in trust, faith, patience, and gratefulness. Going through that time in my life changed who I was, and even though it is a sentence - 19 words strung together – I am a whole different person behind that sentence than I was facing it.
The most recent “bullet point” to my testimony is a very simple, direct sentence:
- I had a miscarriage.
Now, I know that there are people who believe that there is a reason behind absolutely everything that happens in life. I tend to believe more that we live in a broken world, and sometimes bad things can happen. However, reflecting on this recent event in my life, and – three weeks out – not yet getting through a day without a few tears sliding out, I have decided to glean some wisdom from this tragedy. I have decided to take this opportunity to see what I can learn and how I can be a better person to the right-hand side of this sentence in the paragraph of my life than the person I was to the left of the sentence. And here is what I have learned:
From now on, I will be unapologetic about the fingerprints on my sliding glass door, because they are a sign that life is going on in this house, and the fact that there are little fingers to make those prints is a miracle in itself, so instead of finding them embarrassing, I’m not going to be so quick to wipe them off.
When my one-year-old son cries every.single.night at exactly midnight, just wanting a little cuddle for all of five minutes before drifting back to sleep, I’m going to go in and cuddle him. I'm not going to feel guilty that I should be letting him “cry it out,” because one night he is going to sleep through our little midnight date, and I’ll never get to go back to that. So if I want to sit and continue to rock him, even after he’s been asleep for a while, and smell his sweet hair, then I will. I may be a little more tired in the morning, but I have the rest of my life to catch up on that sleep. Besides, I don’t know how many more nights I’ll get that little wake-up call, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Chances are that one day he won’t want to be caught dead letting his mamma sniff his head, so I’ll let his little fingers curl around mine and wonder what he is dreaming about as he sleeps softly in my arms for one more night, thank you very much.
When my three-year-old crawls into bed with us every so often in the middle of the night and snuggles up to me, using my arm as a teddy bear, instead of carting her immediately off to bed, worried what others might think of me for – gasp- letting her stay in the bed with us, I’m going to snuggle her right back and stroke her hair, amazed that I even have a little girl to snuggle. I’m going to remember the days when I was a “barren” teacher, and was trying to swallow the news that the only children in my life were to be other people’s children who I taught. I’m going to remember the three months of bed-rest that I went through at the end of my pregnancy with her, and how those were the longest three months of my life. I'll think about trying to keep her in there so she could bake longer, but finding it more and more difficult to keep on waiting to meet her, and once I did meet her, wondering how on earth I ever lived without her. And maybe one day, a bullet point in her life’s story will be that her mamma snuggled with her every chance she got.
When I’m at Busch Gardens watching Sesame Street Live for the 42nd time, but seeing the magic of it through my kids’ eyes, I’m going to remember what a marvelous age three years old is. I'll think about what a privilege it is to have learned to enjoy discovering life with a three-year-old before it’s too late. I’m going to try to enjoy the magical world of three, tantrums and all, because I have a baby in heaven who will never see three-years-old on this earth, so each day of “three” is a gift.
When I look into our home’s “den/office” and see a “playroom/playroom,” I will be grateful that this room isn’t really being used as a boring office, rather it is a place where imaginations can whisk you away, towers and towns can be built of blocks, chocolate covered celery can be cooked and served, and baby dolls with bizarre names like Princess Peanut Butter can drive remote control cars without a license. I will remember to look around that colorful room and think about the fun times we have already had in there, and anticipate new memories that will be made.
When I stop and remember the life of a baby that I know but have never held, that I felt but never saw, I will be grateful that this precious child taught me so much in such a short amount of time: that life is so fragile and must be appreciated to be truly lived, and that there is a depth of intimacy with the Father that can only be obtained through brokenness and grief, and so hard times must come every once in a while. And those times in my life when my patience seems short and the days seem long, and I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed, I will go to the playroom and have tea with Princess Peanut Butter and the loveliest two kids any mom could ever ask for, and I’ll enjoy every minute of it.