Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I should just have t-shirts made....

I had the pleasure of sitting next to a complete stranger at swim practice tonight. We exchanged pleasantries for a bit. Nothing too deep or life changing. But as is inevitable in my conversations, I mentioned my children.  As I did, I just offhandedly said that my Benjamin is in a wheelchair. We were talking about pools. And backyards. And stuff. But this is so what defines my story that it sneaks into my conversations.

Oh shoot. It doesn't sneak into conversations, I wave it around like a flag:

Attention, attention, I know you see me here with an able-bodied cute little redheaded eight-year-old, but in the interest of full disclosure, you must know that I have three other beautiful amazing kids and two of them have special needs. But did I mention they are all amazing. Did you need to see pictures? 

And then sheepishly I wait. I wait for the conversation to get uncomfortable. For the how-to-gracefully-exit dance to begin. And you can admonish me for not being more trusting, but I'll win this battle, because I have experienced it one too many times. No, not always. But enough. Enough that I know it is what fuels my need for full disclosure. Let's just get these cards on the table before I waste any more time in the conversation. Because if you can not see the value in my children (all four!), or if we make you uncomfortable to be around, then let's not even pretend.

But tonight: tonight, when I mentioned Benjamin and Mason, the air did shift just a bit. And swim mom's facial expression changed ever so slightly. And then this amazing thing happened: she leaned closer and shared that her son, the one swimming, also had a special needs diagnosis. And just like that the conversation went from pleasantries and pools to something more, something deeper.

And she shared a struggle she is having and I shared how we worked through a similar trial. And before I knew what I was doing, I was all out trying to encourage this mom's heart. And another mom pulled up her chair and we had a girlfriend session right there in the middle of the waiting swim parents section to beat the band.

And as I combed Little Red's hair after her shower, I felt a little like the Grinch whose heart grew three sizes that day....

Young me had very few walls. I trusted everybody. I liked everybody. Young me would have walked up into that group of waiting parents and made eye-contact with as many women as I could possibly get to look my way. I would have started conversations and given hugs and sprinkled pixie-dust. Ok...not the pixie dust part, but I think you get my very PollyAnna-ish young personae.

But life can be hard. And life can cause walls to go up. Walls to protect ourselves from pain. Walls to protect our loved ones from hurt.

And this year, some walls have gone up just because I was too exhausted by life to prevent it. And some went up because I was so mad at the world that Benjamin needed three surgeries in one calendar year that I pulled out my own bricks and mortar and put them up with full intent. And my spirit that longs to encourage others has felt flat, beaten down and worn out.

My Mama taught me how to crochet while she visited us for Christmas. I am quite addicted if the three yarn purchases in two days is any indication. And so tonight, I have this visual of having mis-crocheted a row. I just didn't like the way it looked. And so gently I tugged on the yarn and simply unraveled the whole row in seconds. Like it never existed.

Oh, how I wish walls could be torn down so easily.

Tonight was a glimpse. Tonight was a reminder that it is time to crawl out from under all of these walls. To blast out of heaps of stones piled high around me -- most of which are covered in self-pity and dare I say it, complete selfishness. Tonight was a glimpse that I am still here. I am still me -- albeit with a little less Pollyanna and Pixie-dust. A new year is upon us and I am just so glad.

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."  Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

"It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down." Hebrews 11:30 (NLT)


Luke Holzmann said...

Beautiful. That's two posts is a row now that have moved me. Thank you for taking the time to share, both with people at the pool who need encouragement and those of us out here in blog-land.