My daughter has developed a game in which she flings her body back away from whomever is holding her, trusting that she will be continue to held when upside-down. She does this without warning and then repetitively. We hold her, and then flip her back up, she flips herself back down, and the process repeats until one of us gets tired. She trusts us to hold her up without fail. She trusts us to keep hold of her and support her and protect her from falling. Even when entirely off balance.
She trusts us.
We have earned her trust.
Since she was born, we have provided what she needs and responded to her as quickly as possible so that she could build her trust in us.
Children are fast learners. They know far more than we usually give them credit for. At only a year and a half old, my daughter can let us know what she does and doesn’t want for her body and for her comfort. She may not be able to use full sentences like we hope to teach her as she grows, but she can make her desires known, plainly and specifically. One of the ways that she continues to trust us is that we continue to respect her agency and keep her safe.
Sometimes she asks for things that are not good for her. She doesn’t get them. We don’t give into her every whim. Being consistent is harder than it seems from the outside. I know consistency will pay off in the long run, through the tantrums. It still makes it hard.
Being a good parent is critical to building trust. Sometimes my husband and I don’t get to do what we want to do because we need to be firm and consistent with our bourgeoning toddler.
I hope to look back on these years as a time of formation of a trust that is seated deep between us. Building trust now is laying a foundation for our mutual respect later. It is how we show love, beyond the kisses, hugs, and cuddles.
Our love is built on a foundation of trust that began with our love for our daughter. The two reinforce each other. Through a strong loving trust, we grow a strong trusting love where we fling ourselves into each others arms knowing that we will be supported and kept safe each and every time.
“See, I am making all things new.” Rev 21:5b
“Look! I’m doing a new thing;
now it sprouts up; don’t you recognize it?
I’m making a way in the desert,
paths in the wilderness.” Isa 43:19
It is a new year. New things are happening. My daughter is learning to ask for her favorite food, find her nose and eyes and ears, and tell us she wants more of a game or story or hugs.
Other new things are happening. Things that feel like a wilderness and dry and weary land. New forms of discrimination are being ratified into law, new fears are being made manifest, and new people are being placed into office.
But see, God says, look, I am making all things new. Whether you are drowning in despair or buoyed up by hope.
I am making all things new.
The new year is a time when are given an opportunity to consider if there is anything we want to change about our lives as we proceed through the months. Folks make new years resolutions. We consider our past and who we want to be in the future.
The future is unknown and unseen, ready for our interpretation and formation. We create the future with everyone around us. We choose whether we participate in creating community or division. We choose whether we build up or tear down. We choose whether we love or hate.
I want to create more love. But it is hard. I have a history. I have patterns I’ve already developed. I have hurts and scars and broken places that are tender and sore. It is hard to create more love when bruised.
But I have hope.
I have hope that the hard work is worth the time and effort it takes. I have hope that the people around me want to live in a better world as much as I do. I have hope that the grace I learn to offer to others will allow them to live with more grace in their lives.
I have hope. I know the path is being created. New things are coming.
Promise is the sister of hope. She is given and creates a home for grace.
We have been given a promise of hope in the form of new life that we can live now. We need to live into it a little bit more each day. The promise extends past those who are consciously awaiting it, the promise shines into the darkness.
The promise that we celebrate this season is the pure embodiment of light eternal. It is a light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it. The light does not go out.
Tonight is the darkest and longest night of the year. The Solstice comes tomorrow before the sun rises. We have less than ten hours of daylight where I live. And the daylight that I do have is heavily laden with clouds banked against the sunlight. Darkness cloaks the day early and remains far after I arise from bed.
But there is light.
Exciting things are in store.
Family is coming to celebrate, new presents are being purchased, and my favorite day of the year is only 4 days away. I know I’ve written about my favorite day before, but in case you missed it, my favorite day is Christmas Eve, and this year I get to do the whole thing with my closest family, a gift that we haven’t had in five years.
The days are dark and covered with shadows but light and promise peek through, illuminating times of joy and hope.
Five and a half years ago I promised to love and cherish the partner that has walked with me through valleys and over mountaintops. We keep learning from each other, encouraging each other, extending grace to each other. It’s not always simple or easy, but the promise that we made together those 66 months ago have found us a better and stronger team together. Remembering our promise.
Have you ever noticed how many kinds of silence there are?
There is the quiet silence of joy.
There is the silence of anger, of fuming in a stroke-like gaping horror.
When my daughter gets hurt, and it’s actually more than a little bump, you can gauge the severity of the injury by how long it is before the sound of the cry begins: the longer the silence, the worse it turns out to be.
In worship there can be intentional holy silence and awkward waiting transitional silence and a silence that sits in the middle somewhere between the two.
Silence happens in the morning or night time between the quieting of the night noises and the beginning of the morning activity.
Silence comes in all times and places…
Silence at the right moment is appropriate and called for and necessary. Sometimes I wish there was more of it.
Sometimes there is too much of it. Sometimes there is the wrong kind of silence.
Silence in the midst of injustice, of someone being hurt, is dangerous. Silence can be forced.
Silence is inflicted.
When necessary voices are ignored and harm continues, it is as if there might as well be silence. And then there is too much of the news, the bad piles on top of what is worse and the horrible keeps getting multiplied by the horrifying.
We go deaf in the screaming and are engulfed in the silence that comes from being numbed to the pain around us.
Our ears ring with the echoes of all the shouts around us.
There is no peaceful silence, merely the hush in the eye of the hurricane.
I can’t turn my ears from the cries around me. I can’t turn my eyes from the news of another attack. I can’t turn my heart from the call of the broken.
I choose to look and listen and feel.
I add my voice when I can, speaking a language of confession and kindness. My words may be little better than silence. I doubt my own effort and effect on the noisome roll of news and heartache.
I take moments to attempt entering holy silence. It is one of the few things that is keeping me in strength, patience, and compassion. Holy silence grants me hope.
My hope waits expectantly for joy.
I recently had a major life change, and in the past four months, I’ve gotten affirmation that what I am doing right now is healthy for me, my faith, my family, and my wellbeing. There are a few things that need a bit of work, but for now, at home at least, I am deeply affirmed in my choices.
Which is good, because the rest of the world has gone crazy.
Our country is divided, our state is burning, our church is on rocky ground, the globe is the hottest it has been in recorded history, and there does not seem to be any reprieve coming from anywhere anytime soon. We need some affirmation in our being, but our being can’t even agree on from whence we should seek our affirmation.
The part that hurts the most is when people say there is no reason to be hurting. They say that it doesn’t really matter. They make folly of the collective fears and say that there is nothing to worry about. This glib reassurance concerns me the most, and I hold a considerable amount more of privilege than most of the groups that are concerned.
I am not in fear of being deported. I am not in fear of losing the legitimacy of my marriage. I am not in fear of being pulled over while driving and then pulled out of my car to be shot. I am not in fear of having my place of business burned because I look different than the assumed normal. I am not in fear of having my place of worship spray-painted with hate signs and symbols.
I am in fear of losing agency over my own body, of being legislated out of healthy decisions by people who know nothing of medicine or science. I am in fear of my daughter growing up in a community where she has to defend herself as equal to those around her. I am in fear of a culture that does not understand consent.
And yes, you might say, “But: perfect love casts out all fear.” And yes. That is a final truth. But perfect love seems to be ages away.
There is no affirmation that the world will be better in a year or in a decade. I don’t know what we need to do in order to heal. I think a good step would be to realize that we are in need of healing.
If we were able to say that we needed healing, then that would affirm that we would be able to move toward being whole. But I don’t think we are there yet. God save us as we figure it out.