I heard the ginger children this morning – too early for gingers to be hearable . . .
I went in to put the children firmly back in their beds and found the bigger ginger sweetly reading to the smaller one. Eyes wide with admiration, the too small one rests her arm on her brother’s chest as he bravely struggles through the words on the page. Just last night he told me that book was too hard, but this morning, he has to be brave for his sister. He knows she is watching him, learning from him. His awareness. Her trust.
My heart can’t hold on to it all. It’s as if the insides of all my feelings turn outside and threaten to cover me in a warm blanket and destroy me all at once. Like my heart is forced to stretch to contain this purity I could never deserve.
I try to store up these moments, but holding on to them is harder than it sounds. They are like warm sand escaping through the cracks in my hands. I don’t believe parenting is about holding the moments, anyway. These moments don’t belong to me. This love I will encourage and celebrate, but it belongs to the two little people who are learning to live it in front of me. These too cute, too passionate, imperfect and messy humans are learning to love right in front of me.
This moment will precede all the ugly moments of today. It will only last for a time too short. The sweet trust and love will undoubtedly be replaced with “it’s not fair”s and “he’s not letting me”s. The trust will shift to entitlement, but doesn’t it always? Don’t we always forget the provision we’ve received when we don’t get what we want? The awareness will shift to selfishness, but doesn’t it always? Don’t we always miss others for ourselves?
So, what am I to do?
I will be what every parent is. An imperfect, fragile container. I will store up every moment I am gifted to witness – collecting them like sand on the beach – hoping to find remnants of the moments in my shoes and in my hair throughout my day. I’ll collect them, but not keep them. I will allow them to serve as a reminder for the small hearts when they forget what their love looks like. I will store up my own moments, too – to serve as a reminder to myself of what love looks like. And when I forget, I will look back to the Source of love to fill my imperfect and fragile container to overflowing.
Our containers are full of cracks and breaks – love always causes breaks, because love always costs everything. But, the power is in the breaks. What good is love kept locked up safe?
If we are full of the good things – the real love, the sacrificing kind – out it will pour from the cracks and the breaks to flood our homes and our lives with the love we have stored up in the too early moments, in the moments with the Source.
And when the ugly moments come, we become experts at remembering. We become experts at reminding. We become experts at refilling. We gladly settle in to read the book that was too hard for us last night – because all the good things are hard – and because we are brave.
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.
2 Corinthians 4:7 (NLT)