My Guts on the Page

~~I’ve just wrapped up a short summer study with my Bible study group where we allowed Jesus to confront us with some hard questions. He asked us, “Who do you say I am?” What are you looking for?” “What do you want me to do for you?” And, “Does this offend you? You do not want to leave too, do you?” Well, I guess that technically makes 5 questions but we answered both of those last two with Peter’s own words: “Lord, to whom shall we go?”

I have to confess that this was a tough study for me. As a teacher I feel the burden of confronting these things myself before I ask my group to do it. It’s hard stuff. And, while Jesus was not surprised by my answers, I surely was. Today, I realized that He’s asked me another one. This one isn’t found directly in scripture. It’s just for me (except as I find myself moved to share it with you!). It’s quiet, and penetrating, and I have not yet allowed it to go deep enough to answer. In fact, I am powerless to answer right now, but He is gracious to begin asking now in preparation.

My son is leaving for college in 23 days. Don’t tune me out. Hang in for the ending. Like my friends, roll your eyes, pat my hand, and stay with me!! I have to explain some of this for you to truly understand, and even then you won’t, but I will give it a go anyway. … and here I sit waiting for a beginning to present itself on the page. I don’t know where to start. I guess, I would say that I am very close to my son. If you’ve been reading for any time at all, you know that when Wil was small we discovered that he had cancer. That began a bonding of sorts between us that exceeds what other parents typically experience. I almost feel like I birthed him twice, after carrying him twice. And “carrying” him through chemotherapy was harder and longer. Psychologists would say, peering critically over their glasses, that I am enmeshed with my son.

When Wil was four, I became a true follower of Christ, and shortly thereafter, Jesus set me free from the corporate world. Yes. I continued to work part-time the whole year Wil was in chemo. Then the Lord sent me home. To live every single day with a 4-year-old. Every. Day. Alone. With a 4-year-old. I had no idea what to do. I never wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I was completely freaked. I could not comprehend what had happened to my purpose, my identity, my significance. It wasn’t that I had loved my job. I hadn’t. I hated it. I hated working. But…this. This was not something I had ever imagined for myself, and I was too afraid to love it. Gladly, that didn’t last long. Within 6 months, I couldn’t imagine anything MORE purposeful, MORE significant, and I loved that my identity was now “mom”. I know. Stay with me.

That was 14 years ago. I filled every unforgiving minute of those 14 years with 60 seconds worth of distance run! I loved my mom-job, and because I have always been secretly quite ambitious, I set out to be the BEST at my job. If there were awards…that’s what I was shooting for. Scripture says, “her children rise up and call her blessed”. That was the goal. And though I’ve yet to hear the words, I think I met the challenge. I (OK…credit where due…WE) raised a great kid. I could not  be more proud. Wil is truly a blessing to me and his dad. If we could have written a “perfect kid” recipe as parents, Wil would have been the result. We never experience rebellion. He has always been uber-obedient. He sets high standards for himself and tries hard to meet those standards. He’s not perfect…his politics are questionable, and he likes to be the Junior Holy Spirit convicting the whole world of sin, but I know there are great things ahead for him and I am thrilled with excitement at the prospect of who he will become and what he will experience.  And I am positively sick at heart.

What. Now?

I have never had to confront my identity separate from…anything. Always, I’ve latched on to the next thing that I could throw myself into. I am fearful for the nice people at the Children’s Shelter and for my Bible study group because…well…they’re next! Unless…unless I can sit quietly in the dust at my Master’s feet and answer His question.

“Am I enough?”

I’m too scared to answer right now. That nothingness of purpose, significance, and identity seems a vast and empty darkness looming as I hurtle toward its shadow. I don’t know what lurks there. I don’t know how to anticipate having my heart and soul and life and reason for rising in the morning abruptly removed. (And let me just tell you that the words I want to use here but didn’t for fear of melodrama are: sucked, amputated, severed, ripped, and pried-from-my-cold dead-hands!) He is my first. He is my last. He is my only.

“Am. I. Enough?”

Only by your own power, Lord. You gave me a heart for this child that burns with an all-consuming fire. Your heart. You wrapped my days and nights around him. You planted the seed in my heart that grew and bore sweet fruit. You blessed my obedience, redeemed my past, empowered my weaknesses, overcame my insecurities. You made me fierce and fearless. You made me tender. You spoke when I had no words. You healed when I could only nurse. You worked when I could only pray. You went ahead when I could only follow. You hold all that I treasure in your hands…and I surrender him to you. Are you enough? Are you enough for him? Will you be enough for me when he is gone?

Fellow traveler, I am aware of the theology gaps (and the sin!) in what I’ve confessed to you. I know my identity is in Christ…my purpose, my significance…and I hope that you do too. I hope you know it better than I do. I hope your heart knows it, because that is the work ahead of me. Teaching my heart to know what my head understands in theory. I also know that only a handful of you may be where I am right now, but I bet every one of you is facing a big black gaping unknown of some sort where Jesus is standing at the precipice asking you, “Am I enough?” We all have to answer at some point, and then live to tell about it. Because we know that HE IS, and that this is His story…His glory. But our hearts tremble with the thought of the unknown, the surety of the pain, and the effort that lies ahead to just get…out…of…bed and…what? For me…walk past that empty room. For you? That is your own gap to fill. For Him to fill. And I pray that we will all find it filled – poured out, pressed down, shaken together, and running over – with the very presence of God.

He is enough.

(Just a last thought. I’ve done the math, and as near as I can remember this marks the 8th year I’ve been contributing to Verse by Verse since Pastor Armstrong said that he felt the site needed someone to write to the “soccer moms”. HA! I’m not sure I ever did that, but for sure, now I’ve run out of those carpool mini-van days. I hope you all will stick with me now that I’ve left the soccer field, the classroom, and crossed the stage to “Pomp and Circumstance”.  Consider this post the launching pad for the next “adventure” –we’re going to call it that in faith! I hope the Lord will continue to bless me with material and words to say that find you where I am too. Many blessings…Melissa)