Blogging is interesting. The blogger creates a picture of a life through a window that she designs. It is a dangerous business with pitfalls of pride, ignorance, dishonesty, and forgetfulness. She paints a scene of her life for others to see. The scene is revealed so that she can let a life that is normally hidden be exposed by light. But by necessity and by choice, not everything is shown.
A few days ago, John asked me when I was going to write another blog post.
“Hmm…I don’t know. When I have something to say.”
He then said a word that brought up a rush of scenes from the last few weeks. It was something that has dominated our conversations and prayers as a series of mountain and valley experiences have dotted the landscape of this season. I pushed back, arguing that privacy should be protected. But the word, which is actually a person, our child, kept bubbling up to the surface, forcing me to admit that there is more to the stories I have told here. I think I should at least make an attempt to tell more of the story, while at the same time protecting little people who are not given opportunity or choice to speak for themselves.
The period of weeks between Ash Wednesday and Resurrection Sunday were intense, calendar-wise and spiritually. We began the season of Lent with a “Rice and Beans Gathering”, chronicled here. We celebrated a year of God’s faithfulness to a refugee family from Iraq and his goodness to us in bringing us into friendship with them. John traveled to Haiti and came back with strengthened relationships and a confirmed sense of urgency for living life differently. The Thursday before Easter, after reading an idea for commemorating the Last Supper, our family washed each other’s feet and broke bread and drank grape juice to remember Jesus’ last night with his disciples before he died.
I don’t attempt to read minds and guess what others may have assumed about our family after reading those posts or hearing about those events. Probably, hopefully, very few assumptions were made. But I’m guessing that you did not imagine the words, demands, and complaints that bombarded us from the lips of our children during this period. You likely did not draw the conclusion that the heart of a child in our home would become harder toward the poor than we had ever seen before. You did not see a child skipping gleefully around the room while another was getting feet washed, shrieking about the joys of getting grape juice so close to bed time. You don’t hear the off-topic interruptions while John and I try to communicate important truths to them. You don’t see a child stuff bread into cheeks and slurp juice before I can even get the words out: “This is his body, broken for you.” You don’t hear the cutting remark while reading a passage out of the Bible: “Yeah, unless it’s all a lie.” After patiently painting a picture for her mind about the life of a little child in Haiti, you wouldn’t have thought that a few days later she would tell us that her greatest dream is to live in a mansion with 50 American Girl dolls and a big screen TV in her bedroom. Then there were the sometimes routine, sometimes intense-came-out-of-nowhere arguments, attitude, aggression, laziness, and selfishness that marred the “between” spaces of our days and weeks.
And that’s just the kids.
My house and my heart have been a mess. Can’t seem to get organized. Broken fasts, broken hearts, laundry piled for days. Hiding in my own house and head instead of entering into another’s. Neglecting to pray. Sharp words. Forgotten promises. Putting things off that really should be done. Working out of my own strength instead of his. Ingratitude. Judgmental attitude.
John and I have misread situations and missed opportunities and messed up. Our kids, like us, are anything but perfect. Those are important things to know about the rest of the story. I also think that part of what we are experiencing this season is a struggle that is not against flesh and blood. Shortly after John returned from Haiti, one of our pastors prayed for us. He prayed for protection and strength if spiritual attacks came, no, when spiritual attacks came. We squeezed each other’s hands, thinking about some of our recent pain and failures that seemed to drag us sharply down from intense highs or intentional obedience. A few hours after that prayer, we received news from Haiti that crushed John’s heart and sent him spiraling with questions and grief that still lingers.
This only captures some of what I can bear putting into words. It also leaves out many moments of laughter, beauty, and growth we have enjoyed this season. I’m not going to end this post with a hopeful summary of how the truth of Easter makes all things new and shines light in the darkness. I believe those things, but that’s not the point of this. I just thought you should know that there is always more to the story.