Not a Mystery

November 14, 2014

My goodness, where does my time go!? It doesn’t feel so long since I was last here. Since I last found my fingers dancing across the letters with words that pour from heart, sometimes dribbling and sometimes gushing. But when the days are accentuated by careful tending to a tiny sick soul, while shepherding the souls of pastors and leaders and congregations, while trying to manage a school and work and life schedule, these fingers grow too quiet on the keys.

I have been writing. But it is sermons and emails and lists and notes and short, stuccato  texts. And yet in the absence, God is still speaking tender thoughts into my head and heart, not at all daily, but certainly in moments when I most need to hear the Shepherd’s voice and know, know, know that Voice again.

Last Saturday was one such day. At Christmas, nearly a year ago, my husband won a gift card. A big one. To a women’s clothing store. So naturally, that gift card went to me- one of the advantages of being the only woman in the house. But with life being what it is and the journey of challenge we have faced with our son, the card was put in my wallet and promptly forgotten. Until recently.

So I got a few hours last Saturday to myself- no pastors to call, no sermons to write, no 3 year olds to entertain, no meals to prepare. Just breakfast with a dear person and shopping. In many ways it was so strange for me to experience such a day. They are not normal.

But with that day came time. Time in the quiet of my car to think, to reflect, to listen. And immediately, my soul moved into that place of processing all that had occurred in recent weeks.

Almost 4 weeks ago, we talked with our son’s doctor again. Labs had come back, updates had to be reported. Amid the whirlwind experience that is talking with this doctor, he said this: “You need to plan on this taking 2-6 years for recovery.” 

“You mean months, right? Months, not years… right, doctor?”

But no. He said years, and he meant years.

I did not have time at that point to pause and tend to my heart that may have stopped beating for a split second. I did not have time to tend to the twisting of my soul as his words landed like the thud of a shut door. I did not have time to tend to crushing of numbers that immediately filled my mind: how old will he be in 2-6 years? what grade? how much financially will another 2-6 years cost us? how much of life will we have missed?

I did not have time to sort through all that until last Saturday as I drove around alone. It was rather tumultuous. “Years” sounds like a death sentence in some ways. We have committed to doing our best to live life and not stop everything for our son’s healing, so we visit people, we travel, we work, we look for jobs, we go to school, we do so much of what a normal family does. We just do it a little differently. It can be hard to explain to his inquisitive classmates why he eats a different snack, but he’s there with them eating snack. It can be difficult to pass up going out to eat with extended family because we know the restaurant would not accommodate his needs, but we try to find other ways for his extended family to see him. It can be hard to step off a phone call or out of a meeting to give the necessary medications because if we miss by an hour we are in trouble. But we arrange life around the solid commitment to recovery. And invite others to join us there as best we can.

But keeping that up for another 2-6 years? How, Lord, how?

My prayers turned to their usual ramblings with intermittent pauses for quiet and listening. Ramblings about my own heart so overjoyed to do life with this little human and so broken to have lost parts of him. Ramblings about my fears- my concerns that he will never be well, never be whole, never be. Ramblings about my worries- how will I manage to balance all this with work and his needs for that long? Ramblings about money. Ramblings about this God who can heal and does, but sometimes not in the instant way he has before.

In time, my mind wandered to a conversation with one of my son’s therapists just days before. She is a bubbly, happy person. Frank and fun and honest and positive. She works so hard for our kid and he doesn’t make it easy on her. She said to me and him that day, “You are just a puzzle, huh? We just have to figure you out. We just have to figure out the mystery.”

I didn’t let on when she said it, but it hurt me to hear those words. They are true. My miracle child who defies science and diagnosis and sometimes recovery- those words are true about him. Her thoughts betrayed my own thinking, wondering if we will ever find the magic formula that unlocks my son’s health. But it hurt. It ached really and settled into a soft part of my soul to itch away until I noticed.

“You are just a puzzle we have to figure out.”

Defeated. Because I’ve never been all that good at puzzles. And this puzzle seems like the very depths of life depends on solving it under the pressure of a ticking clock. Defeated.

Until… until that small voice came, as I sat in my car, biting back the tears that threatened to explode across my cheeks. Until that voice… that one I know… that one that I cling to, believing whatever the voice said last until it comes again. That voice broke me.

In that moment, I remembered a sentence from a song. A song I knew long ago but had forgotten. A line that says, “We’re not a mystery to you.”

With that broken moment, the sharpness of reality pressing hard into my skin, I remembered. We are indeed not a mystery to God, not a puzzle he has to figure out. He is not sitting somewhere scratching his head saying, “Well, I just can’t seem to get this one” as though we are crosswords in a book, or sudoko apps on a phone, or a jigsaw strewn across a table on Christmas day. My son, too. He is not a puzzle to God. He’s not a mystery to God.

The entire song that had laid dormant and forgotten flooded into my soul, “We will dance as you restore the wasted the years… Lord, you mend the breech, and you break every fetter…”

I think it is always interested how faith is so strong and fragile at the same time. How we can be shattered in it as quickly as it can be built in us. How we hold both sides of hope in one hand sometimes, and we have to learn to live in the tension. Some people would chide me, and maybe you, for ever questioning… as though they believe their stalwart faith is dressed in armor and will save the day. And when I find those people, I sometimes wonder if their faith is in faith and not in the Faith-giver. Some people would chide me, and maybe you, for not being realistic. For not simply accepting the dismal reality that mysteries exist and they are not to be even bothered or discovered or explored because undoubtedly that will be disappointing. And when I meet those people, I wonder how in the world they can face each day.

For me, life is better lived holding both edges of faith. The despair with the hope. The unbelief with the belief. The doubt with the certainty. For me, it makes life richer, fuller, deeper to wrestle and weep, to struggle to understand, to find myself in a car agonizing for the Voice of truth. To know that it’s easier to not have answers than to never search for them at all. Because that search is part of the journey- a journey that leads us more and more to lean our tired bodies and souls on God. The mysterious God who knows we are no mystery to him.

And so after the shopping is done, and some of the gift card spent (‘cuz really, people, I did not know how to spend that much in one store), we still live in the mystery, but we live. Tomorrow, we fly away to see about one step that may change our future. Soon after, we return to school and work and extended family celebrating the gifts of God with a turkey and pie. We return to schedules and special diets, therapists and dr visits. We return to analyzing every moment and movement of a child that perhaps we may never have known so closely otherwise. We return to puzzles and questions and tears on the steering wheel. We go back to holding both the sharp ends of faith. And we go back to waiting, waiting on God to reveal the next unraveling of a mystery to us… but not Him.

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