Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Jesus on the Under-Arc

There are days when things seem to be going well around here, when all the tides seem to turn our way. Weeks, even. Maybe months. These stretches aren't perfect. They aren't scripted for a show, plucked clean of shadows or mistakes. They're normal, run-of-the-mill days.

These are the days that make me suspicious. I pat down the urge to sniff the air for trouble.

A curious existence has found me believing something's missing with the pain. Keeping company with all our people has branded us with their trouble and all their darkened days. It lives in us now, lives in our home and along every street we find. It's hard to remember life without it.

When things start to feel too simple, I'm sure we're missing something. I'm sure someone is being forgotten. I can hear rumbling far out at the edges and I know it's coming for us.

I comb these blocks for beauty, desperate to be reminded that love lives here, and so does hope. Jesus made this the land of the living, and His goodness breathes life into the cracks. 

I want to get better at simply living the easier days.
It's so pointless to waste them in worry or in guilt.
I don't want to spend them looking over my shoulder or casting long glances in the rear-view mirror.

Because without doubt, someone's heartbreak finds us again.
It never takes long.

All the shoes drop and too many people need us.
I listen to our pastor through a wavy blur of held-back tears.
Contact burns are real.

You can't get too close without walking away singed.

I'm not good at making sense of the world I'm in. I've tried.

And in this harder, ordinary state of living, hope is found when we cobble together a few broken pieces and shape them into something whole and new. We re-frame our expectations for the zillionth time and wonder all over again why we ever thought black and white were real.

Almost all we ever see is gray.

Our biggest kid is locked up again, though hopefully not for long. He's at a work release center, which is kind of like jail, only he can go to work. (Except getting locked up meant he lost his job.) He made a dumb mistake, and it's costing him. It's costing his boys. It's costing the people who depend on him. It's costing us.

The phone lines crackle and pop and it feels like last year. It feels like he should be more frantic, more contrite, more ashamed.

I never thought of myself as someone who would wish shame onto one whom I love.

I also never thought of myself as the mother of a kid who sees incarceration as inevitable. Add up all the proof throughout the corners and creases of his life, and that's the conclusion you would draw, too.

But he laughs on the phone, tells me (again) that things will be alright. He adapts in 2.8 seconds.

None of this should surprise me.
Adapting is one of his most valuable skills. It has allowed him to survive.

It allowed him to be our son.

The reel spins back and here we are again.
I don't know why anything happens, anymore. I knew our job was never to fix people.
But my heart is tired of breaking and spending itself for pain.

I miss the days when poverty and injustice and racism and crime were only stories on the news.
I miss what it felt like to walk this life with lightness, holding a faith that didn't cost me a dime.

I don't know if 7 months with us can ever stack up against 18 years without us.

I don't know how to love this guy well enough, to give grace unending, to measure my reality against his and believe they are very much not the same. I don't know if what we did was enough. And I don't know if all our chances are up.

I do not know how to completely entrust his life to Christ when he says he can't even find Him anymore. I don't know how to help when all his patterns repeat and most of them aren't good.

Can I ever stop believing my middle class solutions are the Gospel itself? I keep seeing the danger they carry, the way they run contrary to the foolish truth Jesus spoke. But I default to them. They're all I know.

And if I can't break away, how could I ever expect Robert to?

It might be time to stop stacking hurts against graces. Aren't they all the same, anyway?
God is teaching us right now. He's pulling us near again, because we are weary. He's got us in a lock-hold so we can't sprint to cynicism or jadedness.

He's keeping us busy with diaper drops and phone calls and as the mess piles up around us, we recognize it for what it is. This is the circle of our life.

There are no clean lines around here. Just smooth curves and wide arcs that eventually take us right back to the place where we started.

And then they begin again.

*If you feel compelled to see R's cute face right now, click over here and look for him in our short video. I watch it ever single day, just to see the way his smile eats up the rest of his face and the way he looks so shy at the end. I can't stop loving that kid.