We were biking last week, a last minute bike ride before dinner to pick up a necessary ingredient, just me and my two middle children. One was faster than the rest of us and sped ahead; the other wanted to pedal leisurely but was instantly offended at being left behind. I drew in that volcanic instinct to chide and rebuke and instead looked behind me with compassion towards the struggling one.
"Baby girl, come up here with me. Do you want to hold my hand and ride side by side?" We'd ridden this way for years and dozens of miles, that way in which one pulls the other a little forward with each rotation of the pedals.
The gesture softened each of our hearts just a little - reminding me that a soft answer can simmer down wrath and teaching her that a brother's speed is no reason for lost joy. We continued together momentarily changed but isn't it those ordinary, unexpected moments that challenge and change us the most?
Our sidewalk was melting back into the road at a quiet intersection and my hand-holding partner started to fall back and plead for me to let go, let go, let go, mom! I looked beside and a little behind where her face was all fear and prediction as her eyes remained focused on where she believed she might fall just past this dip in the road. In the split second when I held on too long, she was over the handle bars and broken on the street - "I told you to let go, mom, I told you to let go!"
My euphoria of mastering my temper just a few minutes before evaporated into guilt and grief. I did this to her, this was all my fault, she is damaged because of me. There was tears and there was pain and each multiplied as we bore the sorrows of the other even as we shouldered our own. A six hour visit to the children's hospital and a two week splint will mend the fracture this time, a wound that only the passing of days can heal.
A few days passed and the road of life tripped this mama up again, this time with consequences more serious and life-altering. When it seems I've traveled already miles and years of struggles and sacrifice, this unplanned detour threatens the last fragments of my joy and peace. My fears are the foreshadowing of what may come but I will bring it to pass by fixing my eyes there.
I wail within and I shake my fist without. My Jesus offers his hand for a tandem ride and I am tempted to refuse. "I told you I couldn't take anymore, I told you that this pain is suffocating, I told you...I told you...I told you!"
Thankfully, He doesn't rebuke or wither with offense. He just offers His hand, leaving it extended until I realize just how much I need His hold on me. Because He knows the pain of wounds that end in death and He knows too well that this life doesn't heal all, I know that He is the only hope and comfort for me.
Today the tears continue to fall and threaten to cloud the dreams I still hope for as I take in all that this change will alter. I wonder about how this will affect my marriage and my mothering, if this will damage irreparably my family and if it does, will it be all my fault? My mind races as I foresee how life will inevitably slow down and I'm surrendering again to the back position and allowing God to lead where His hand is always strong enough to save. With each turn of the clock, I worry about what lies ahead but I rest a little more too knowing that He's in control and whatever may come, He won't let me go.