Precious Lord, Take my hand,
Lead me on, let me stand,
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn.
Through the storm, Through the night,
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, Lead me home.
Take My Hand, Precious Lord, Thomas A. Dorsey
Two hurricanes in a few weeks’ time can feel apocalyptic.
So I’m not going to pretend like we should be searching for the good in the millions of lives that were just washed away. Yeah there are donations piling into trucks across America…and acts of radical heroism…and neighbors helping neighbors…But still. Tragedy
And if you turn on the news, there are thousands of acres of forest being swallowed up by fire at the same time we’re remembering another tragedy burned into the minds of any of us who lived through it 16 years ago.
Somewhere between innocent babies being propelled into buildings and an ocean swallowing up a town of 4 million people, those 16 years run together.
Maybe we all need to be shaken by something apocalyptic.
Because clearly I didn’t get it the first time. I didn’t see all buildings eventually crumble. They will all be dust again one day. As will all of us. Yet I’m still here, clinging to dust because deep down I don’t actually believe what never crumbles is most important.
Why is it so hard to see? Placing your faith in dust is going to leave you clinging to that last grain as it falls through your hands…and you’re left holding nothing.
Last week I had a mini breakdown. It was probably more breakdown and less mini if I’m being completely honest. My guy had left work early to take the kids to cross country practice so I could have a night off. I had assumed I’d see them quick before they headed off to practice…but he had grabbed them and went straight to the park. No big deal.
But Oh. My. Word. Did I lose my mind. The guilt was so overwhelming I couldn’t even function.
What if they thought I’d forgotten them at aftercare?
What if they thought I didn’t want to watch them run?
And I fought for words to explain it to him…to this man who’s saved me from myself and taken on the responsibility of someone else’s babies like it was what he was put on this earth to do.
But how do you explain 7 years of fighting for oxygen?
And he’s seen it, the really hard and ugly, he’s been in the trenches for most of these 7 years, trying to break through my mountains of anger. There’s no veil to be lifted on the real of our life.
If your happiness depends on circumstance, you’ll never find air. Jesus didn’t die on a cross so that karma could change the world and people aren’t drowning because they did something terrible and deserve to be punished.
And so it is with my life.
There is no reward promised in this life to the moms and dads who leave it all on the field every day, just as there is no punishment due here to the parent who couldn’t show up just once. And when everything inside of you screams that’s not fair?
I tried harder. I gave more. Until I had nothing left to give. Not because of some noble quest to be a positive force in my kids’ lives despite the things that were going on around them. No, that wasn’t the real that drove me to run myself into the ground every day. I did it because deep down I thought if I just poured everything I had into these kids, they would KNOW I was undeniably different from their father.
And God, how sad. And so very wrong.
Because what am I really doing as a mother if my goal is for my kids to teach their dad a lesson when he’s older and realizes he messed up? If I’m raising my kids to be humble and forgiving and patient and kind, there will be no justice for him here. They WILL show up. They’ll show up big. They’ll be at his Christmases, sitting beside his new wife and family in the pictures. And birthdays. They’ll support him when things aren’t going his way. And they’ll be there, one on each arm, holding him up when he buries his parents. This I know for sure, because I know their hearts.
So when your world is spinning with piles of tragedies that feel ultimately unfair, how can you stop the storm?
I look at my kids. Right now, right here, I have no way of knowing what the consequences will be in the future from the hard they’ve had to do. I can’t know that. But this I know for sure, there is no amount of running myself into the ground that will prevent bad things from happening.
And trying to cling to any moral superiority I feel because I think I know how he should be parenting is like clinging to dust.
So maybe, just maybe, I can forgive myself if I miss one night of practice. Or let my guy pick them up from a daddy weekend. Or watch a movie while they play in their rooms. I can’t be everywhere all the time. And they don’t expect me to.
There will be no impartial jury here declaring the better parent. But we have someone willing to look past our hard and find the parts that won’t turn to dust and that, I’m certain, has changed the hearts of my babies for eternity.