The Song that Makes My Heart Melt

October 25, 2014

I hate to admit it. There’s a popular song that I have come to love. I try my hardest to not go with whatever the fad of the day is. For a good long time, I have resisted popular approaches, songs, thoughts, fads mostly because that’s how I’m put together- I like being different from others. But this time, I’ve failed. I’ve fallen in love with a song that everyone loves. I’ve fallen in love with a song that doesn’t really have much theological significance at all.

And I can’t figure out if I should hate that I’ve fallen in love with it or not. 

It’s that song. You know, the one that Christina Perri sings? The song is called A Thousand Years and it is on the bedtime playlist for my son when we cuddle and turn out the lights and wait for the drifts of sleep that come like soft tides, his eyes heavier with each moment and breath, the scent of lavender and cedar wood hanging on the air from the diffuser. He slides up next to me, his little body a furnace of tired bones and quieting mind. And eventually, the lyrics of this song float to us, “I have loved you for a thousand years, I’ll love you for a thousand more.” And I melt. Each night.

The song speaks this phrase that catches me up when I lay next to the slow-breathing child. “How can I love when I’m afraid to fall? But watching you stand alone, all of my doubt suddenly goes away somehow.” His sleepy hands reach for my hair which he loves to stroke as he falls asleep, and I’m filled with the rumination that you only get in that perfect spot of life where age and experience and the quiet of the moment all collide. This brave little boy.

I remember before I was a parent and how much we wanted a child. I remember the scary brave struggle we faced to bring this boy to life. I remember the tears and can feel the depths of darkness when I remember them. It’s hard to believe some days that this gift from God is real, and yet it also seems like he’s always been. Always has been here.

There are moments I am angry. Angry that my little one has had this fight, this struggle, this crisis. Angry that after the battle to bring him to being, we face a battle to keep him in being. Some moments I am so angry. So angry that he’s lost a piece of his childhood and I wonder if he will remember- when he is well- how painful and terrifying this time must be for him. I read a story of a little boy I don’t know who suffers much more pain that my son ever has and I was angry. I thought of children who are currently struggling with the sickness of ebola in parts of the world far from me and I was angry. Why should these little ones- the ones that Jesus would sooner welcome than see excluded- face such hard things? I don’t understand the stories we are given, the paths we are called to walk- even from young ages. I don’t understand why one person’s path seems so incredibly easy and others seem so incredibly difficult. And as much as I want to understand, it is not for me know.

What I do know in the story that unfolds daily in my home is that God has instilled in this special gift of a child a bravery that I don’t think he even realizes. That he would fight so hard, keep trying even when he fails at so much, that he would smile still when he doesn’t feel well, and try to laugh even when he wants to cry. Who fashioned such a tender and fierce heart in this young one?

When I was sick I learned much about how human bodies are made. How chemical processes occur, how we heal, that healing is more than the right medicine at the right time. I learned how we are so intricately designed, whole beings. “Fearfully and wonderfully made” the Bible would sing to us. And yes, it is true. I am learning that again with my son’s illness. I hate, hate, hate that he is sick and ask God to take that from him- give it to me if he must- but release him from that burden. But at the same time, I am remembering the awe I knew when I was sick. How things come together and how things come apart and how all of it is held in the hands of a Tender God.

But I am also learning to be brave. Sure, I braved my own illness. I braved the fight to have the child in my home. But I did not know the level of courage it would take to parent this little person. My breath gets stolen from me thinking about his courage- the courage to stand day after day after day. To tolerate the treatments we are forced to do. When I want to quit, I look at him, so fresh-faced with a joy that comes as gift from Jesus, and I am able to be brave again.

In the end, I realize, that my three year old is not really the inspiration of courage. It comes from somewhere else, Someone Else. I don’t fully understand God. I never have and I never will. I’m OK with that. But I know when God is gifting us with the grace of his strength. Even if that strength comes through the little fingers and big eyes of a child. “A little child will lead them.” Even a little child who is sick, fighting to come back. A little child will lead them.

And so he does. And so God does. In a world where we want more and more control, God gives his grace to us through 35 lb a three-year old. The grace to have courage. The grace to fall in love in the midst of hard. The grace to see Jesus in the eyes of a child.

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