Practicing with Children

Hold It up to the Light

Last night our daughter, Amélie, left a handmade card out on the dining room table for us to find after she went to bed.

heart card outside

The outside of the card says, “I am so thankful for 2 awsome, loving, kind, sweet, pashent parents.  Thanks.”  (Ignore the misspellings.  She is homeschooled. :))

The inside says, “I love you guys so much!”

heart card inside

I sat on my porch last night with this card and cried.

I cried because she is precious.

I cried because one of my dearest friends, in an act of heinous injustice, has had her child snatched from her.  I know my daughter is thankful that she lives in a home with four solid walls and two (relatively) stable parents and one big love that wraps us up and keeps us safe and makes us feel secure.  Amélie, though, has watched me grieve for my friend and her child.  She grieves, too.  She has to wonder why God would allow a little boy to be taken from his mom.  I ask that very question.

Just a few months ago, she and my son, Jack, asked why God would take away their puppy.  I didn’t know the answer to that impossible question, either.

Every night, Jack murmers the verse, “When I am afraid I will trust in you” before drifting off to sleep.  Sometimes I worry that he uses those words as a magic charm instead of a prayer.  I honestly do not know how to respond when he wakes up, confused, because of the monsters or zombies who chased him in his dreams despite praying for good dreams and relief from fear.

Before I had children, I could more easily address these questions.  No, I did not have the easy answers, but I didn’t have to dig for them.  I could either push my doubts aside and hang out in denial, or I could swallow the doubts whole and wallow in the angst.

Now, though, when two kiddos with big blue eyes look up at me and ask, “Why?”  I am forced to grapple and to dig and to stumble.  Perhaps the biggest lesson I am learning is that it is OK to say, “I don’t know.”

I don’t know why my friend is suffocating inside a parent’s worst nightmare.

Or why we stumbled through our own nightmare when our dog died.

Or why my son’s nightmares choke him with icy fear.

I don’t know why God doesn’t use His big hands to sweep away injustice and to heal sick puppies and to wipe away frightened tears.

This morning I found a tiny piece of paper on the floor that must have fallen out of the card last night when I had picked it up to read it.  The note said, “Hold the front of the card up to the light.”  I did, and this is what I found:

heart card light

A heart.

Today, I am carrying the weight of my friend’s broken heart, my children’s questioning hearts, my own sad one.

I bet you are stumbling through some kind of brokenness, too.  I don’t know what it is.  I don’t know how to fix it.

But maybe we could hold our hearts up to the light.

by Jill Clingan

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