I’m sitting here in the sticky air of my basement in front of the computer while Lala watches a show. It’s giving me a few minutes to write and so I’m choosing to be thankful, rather than guilty.
Within the last 24 hours, I’ve read three great pieces about guilt (of the mama variety – here and here – and of the everyday human sort), so I’m certainly noticing the theme and wondering why this binds so much. This feeling that we should be somewhere else doing something else, and I’m trying to remember that this is OK: Lala doing her thing, me doing mine, tapping out words that help me know what I think.
The air around here is thick with new beginnings, the surfaces piled high with shin guards, homework, take home sheets and papers to sign. This is the girls’ second week of school and, even with the occasional blip, things are going swimmingly. Really, I’m grateful.
We’re also walking through some endings, and these are places of loss and I’m struggling not to feel guilty about the implications.
Because while losses certainly represent endings, they can also embody opportunities for new growth and continuations.
And it’s these continuations that have me thinking extra long. Because even though things feel unclear, we are the same us under the same sky, given life and grace by the same God. We are the same us, seeking to do life the best we can, making mistakes, trying to learn and keep growing.
Last week, our jogger stroller/bike trailer was stolen off our porch. It wasn’t locked up (I know!), and so someone took the opportunity to make it theirs. Really, in the midst of our first school days and soccer practice and life changes, I don’t even know when it happened. Could very well have been the night I left the keys in the front door all night long. I know.
The theft of the stroller ticked me off (at myself and the mystery person) and kicked me into sadness about the end of an era when I could just up and go with my girl for a walk at my own pace.
Really, the loss of something with a push bar I could see and touch caused me to remember my sadness, the continual need for letting go in this life while still clinging to what is true.
And that can be a hard place to find.
Over the last week, in the midst of changes (and possibly due in part to the White Witch from our family reading of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe), Lala decided she was terrified to walk up the stairs by herself.
We turned on every light, tried calming her fears by telling her she is safe, walked with her to the top floor to say, “See, everything’s good. Nothing behind the shower curtain.” We talked to her from the floor below, reminding her that God’s with her even when we’re not, and nothing’s really worked. Most often she’s tried to time her potty breaks with another member of the family’s, so she wouldn’t have to go alone.
Yesterday, I told her I was happy to walk the flight with her if she would speak aloud some words with me — the words of her favorite verse. With each step, another word: “God. Is. With. Me. Always. God. Is. With. Me. Always.”
It seemed almost too good to be true, but I could feel her strengthening with each step and when we got to the top of the seventeen stairs, I saw the huge smile that had spread across her face.
On the way back down, we repeated the same: “God. Is. With. Me. Always. God. Is. With. Me. Always.”
Since that together walk, she’s gone up and down by herself each time, sometimes saying her mantra loudly, other times in a whisper I can barely hear.
So I’m trying to repeat this drumbeat affirmation in the alone moments of my own mind — doing my best to listen to life words and not the ones that hammer guilt or pound fear.
No, I do not know what tomorrow holds, I do not know when I’ll make my next foolish mistake or when I’ll smack right into my next limitation, but I can know it won’t be feelings of shame or anxiety that will push and pull.
Instead I’m attempting to fall in step with the steady truth beat that belongs to my girl and me, too. God. Is. With. Me. Always.