Monday, July 20, 2015

recovering your joy


There is this blue-eyed, brown-haired boy who made me an aunt.  


He was born in the heat of a Carolina summer and so my own kids and I took a detour home from our beach vacation to set our eyes on him.  As I sat down next to my sister-in-law and held him for the first time I remembered the smallness and softness of new life.  Fresh from their Creator, tiny baby breaths seem to carry the scent of heaven.  

I have been surprised at my delight over being an aunt.  
Little Liam is a year old now and he is the closest thing to my own child on this Earth and yet he is not – my own child.  And so I love him and care for him and play with him almost as if he were mine, but without the anxiety associated with having primary responsibility for him.  If you're a parent - you get it. 

It is something I have struggled with as a mother.  I love my two children in a way I have never loved before and yet there is a burden of motherhood that can consume you if you are not careful.  

There is a lie that I can fall prey to.  Maybe you can too.  The lie says this – 
If something goes wrong with them it will be all your fault.  
If something is to go right you are going to have to bring your ‘A’ game 
all day, 
every day. 
Lies like this are rooted in the half-truth that our children’s future {and everything else in our lives} is completely dependent on us.  Thankfully, they are not because - man, talk about a joy stealer!


Everyone else was out on the lake that day.  I had offered to stay back at the house and listen for the sleeping baby.  I had just finished stringing the beans and chopping the squash when I heard him babbling through the monitor.  I opened the door to his room and he pulled himself up with a smile.  

For the next 30 minutes I held him and talked to him and changed his diaper.  We sat together on the couch looking up at the fan.  As I turned my pointed finger around in circles he lifted his tiny finger too, mimicking my gesture.  I laughed and he laughed and I felt a deep joy that only comes from being completely present and unconcerned about the future.  Nothing earth shattering or exciting, just the act of simply being together.
Thoughts of dishes that needed to be washed 
or laundry that needed to be folded 
or bills that needed to be paid 
faded.
Concerns over how I may be neglecting some important parenting responsibility 
or what I might have said or done to ruin a particular situation were erased.
My joy was complete, unlike so many other times when momentary happiness comes bearing gifts that are eaten away by shame and fear, leaving the gift unopened.  

Being an aunt has allowed me the gift of pure joy minus the shame and fear.  

It has also inspired me to fight for that kind of joy in my other relationships – as wife, mom, sister, daughter, friend.  
To embrace what is happening right now and not what led up to this moment or what will follow.  Because I can make plans but life will not always go according to my plans;
and I can begin with the best intentions but my failure to meet them can be the death of me.

When we purpose to stay in the present and find joy right where we are the lies begin to fade and the truth can be heard more clearly.  And this is what it says -
If something goes wrong, I will make it right.  
So you are free to stay right here - giving yourself fully to this moment...
and then the next and the next and the next...
Until you turn around and realize that you have lived a life of being present - and that was the present.