Her hair is flying behind her, thin hands grip the handle of a too tall rake. She’s seven and can’t wait another day to pull a pile of leaves together for autumn play. Winds are whipping at 45 mph and her red sweater is clinging to her shoulders but useless at holding her shirt down. Bare skin is exposed but young biceps are still moving back…and forth…and back…and forth. Red, brown, orange, and gold. Leaves depleted of their chlorophyll for the year and drug from their grassy resting place are scraped to the top of a small pile with zero promise.
Odds are stacked against her. Very few leaves have fallen, two young dogs wrestle sticks in circles around her, and the WIND. There really is no chance of pile plunging this evening.
I shout to her. Hands cupped around my mouth, hoping the wind steps aside for a second. She looks my direction through long brunette hair striped across her face and nods.
There’s a decisive human need to try to control things that were never meant to be controlled.
I fault this too many times with the disease of perfectionism. The days of feeling heavy and downright closet bound. All the things I want better, smoother, or just plain….more. When doubt doesn’t just creep in, it boldly shows up sitting on the edge of the bed in the morning.
I fight the WHIRLWIND of this life called motherhood. Instead of laid out tasks, my desk space is piled and spread like the local dump. Instead of clothes in drawers, they dam up in a blue basket until tides are too high and they run right over the edge and onto the floor. Instead of sitting space there are forts of green cushions, brown chairs, and yellow pillows. And I long for an eating space to feed us three times a day, but instead my arm acts as a push broom, pushing back space to place plates, spoons, and a glass of water. The list grows and I groan and God tells me there’s JOY here?
I watch her. Raking. Raking. Raking too make her own space. Searching for her own joy in a footstool pile of leaves.
Lists of mine lie somewhere in all those desk piles. I left them days ago, my body seemed to drag under the weight of them. They seemed to only grow longer, not shorter, and my journey to joy seemed to go down with them.
It’s then I hear him say it. King David, praying, “Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones You have broken may rejoice.” (Psalm 51:8).
I had forgotten, all these bones placed together to only give praise. Nothing more.
And she’s out there undeterred by outside forces because inside her is the need to rejoice. To sit in a small pile of joy and feel the fall. The fall of a Creator who designs the finite and delights in the spectacular.
I felt Him, walking me back to a place of calling. Seeing these great piles of undone, and hearing Him say, “My will be done”. His purpose laid out months ago in unmistakable light, and my soul finding the joy wrapped in obedience.
Most days I find comfort in this small life, but still other days scream from walls and spaces lost in groaning. My own pity party has brought me nothing but ugly reflections in smeared glass and posture that sags under the weight of self-loathing and I feel the curse of the slither. Bones that were meant to stand tall and hands that can lift to the sky protrude straight out, one finger pointing blame.
The refining fire gets hot. Nowhere does it say being transformed is easy. The image Maker has got to be in control or designs may get lost.
She leans the rake handle ever so gently against a tree as if there were a chance of bruising, and all ten fingers reach for hair blown wild. She swirls in and breathes deep. Nose is rosy and her grin….ear to ear. Her moment of joy was in the moment of standing in that out-of-control space, her bones leaning strong into the wind Maker, her gladness flying straight up her shirt.
And the four year old brother pounds it out loud, “It’s like God stuck His finger in a cloud and swirled it all around.”
And I notice in that moment….they look like Him.