Her hair was tossed in a crooked pony-tail, the torn pink jacket slung carelessly over her shoulders. Her knock on the door was timid. When I opened the door she sent me a gap-toothed smile and I would have given them anything they asked for. Becky and Tommy. Neighbors. Eight years old. And in desperate need of a snow shovel. Their gazes drifted hopefully to the orange shovel leaning against the white siding.
I gave them permission and told them to come visit again.
Two hours later I stepped outside to run to the grocery store. The kids were playing on the edge of the road, the shovel back in its spot and a path to the door of my car carefully carved out of frozen raindrops.
They giggled when I profusely thanked them and I fell in love. In love with the delight of making new friends. In love with the ideal of reaching them with the gospel. In love with their smiles and sweetness.
And in the weeks and months to come I learned about God deepening love. We start with just a little, a flutter, a smile that slides into our hearts and then comes the knowing.
The knowing of Becky’s tears and frustrations and heartaches. The knowing of Tommy’s anger at his birth mom and love of his grandmother who was raising him. The knowing of their friendship and the way Becky’s cheeks flushed pink when Tommy teased her.
And there, in the knowing, comes the mess. Not just the mess of what has been done to them but their mess.
How Becky could swear like a sailor and went storming out of my house the day I told her I didn’t like those words used in my kitchen. How Tommy came over itching for a fight and I had to send him home to cool off. How Becky referred to her mother as sh-t and screamed in my face when I talked to her about respecting elders.
I loved them– in spite of the mess or with the mess or because of the mess– I don’t know. But I know that I loved.
Love grew and in the knowing came depth. The understanding of scars and cracks. The reason why smooth surfaces are dangerous and deceiving. Smoothness hides love, you know. And how can one show the love of Christ while keeping it hidden?
As God molded my heart to love true, I glimpsed the hope of tomorrow.
Helen, running her hands over the piano, begging for us to sing another worship song. Becky clapping and saying, “That one, sing that one we love.”
Tommy leaning on my shoulder as the girls snuggled on the piano bench with me. Helen singing wildly off-key and the words resounding off the walls of my living room.
Eyes can’t see the way you hold me
Or how I’m hidden in your heart.
Minds don’t know all that you’ve told me,
Or how I ache for where you are.
Laura Woodley Osman, This is Life
My eyes meeting those of my roommate, Litey, and our hearts beating the same dream. Maybe they really do see Jesus. Maybe.
This is life, this is life.
They were my first three children. The first three to paint my heart with love. And more were coming. I knew it down deep.
They would come and stretch me. Test the love I thought I had. Pull at my heart and quicken my temper and whisper in my ear, “Can you play that song again, Tasha? The one that makes me feel safe?”
We would play and sing. The words would wrap tight.
I come in empty and I leave filled.
Bring my sickness and I leave healed.
Broken-hearted, you mend every piece.
I come in captive and I leave free.
This was life. True life. With messiness and laughter and anger and pain and the presence of God raining down. And it was me with all my broken insignificance and scarred surfaces learning to love true.
Have a minute? Want to come visit here where I am guest posting today?