Saturday, September 19, 2015

Kids & Rainbows

For the last couple of months, my life has been a series of unfortunate events. No corner of my life has remained untouched…family, work, friendships…everything has experienced its own personal tsunami. If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, you’ll know that I believe that God uses our suffering to unleash His goodness. I believe this, yes. But these days…I’m having a really, really hard time remembering it. So, here I am again…at my keyboard. Apparently, I’ve become Pavlov’s dog…drooling at the sound of a bell. Anytime I can’t get a handle on my own emotions…I return to the keyboard and write about it. Because it’s only when I read what I write…that I can figure out how the heck I feel. 

So, here goes nothing…

My sister has figured out one fundamental truth about me…I absolutely love her babies. She frequently uses this information to bend me to her will. Instead of asking for something directly, she’ll send one of her little blonde cherubs to ask instead. Occasionally, she’ll even go so far as to text a video of them smiling and telling me they love me. This video is almost always accompanied by a request.  You would think this blatant manipulation would annoy me…but, you see, that’s a part of my sister’s genius. She knows that as soon as I hear one of her cute minions telling me they love me, I completely forget to be annoyed. This shameless behavior only supports my theory that Sister Smeegs is secretly trying to take over the world.  Sadly, if she offered me a blonde baby hug, I’d probably help her do it. 

One of the things I absolutely love about her kids…or ANY kid for that matter…is their eyes. I’m convinced that if we look at life through the eyes of children, we’ll find our purpose for being down here. And if we watch them closely enough, we can discover some our own hibernating longings…the ones that we buried years ago when life got hard and the responsibilities of being a grown up forfeited the very things that made life abundant. I think kids know how to live life abundantly. They all know exactly where to find the treasure at the end of the rainbow. Granted, they often drive their parents freaking crazy trying to get to the treasure. But as grown-ups, we try to convince ourselves (and kids) that there is no damn rainbow…there’s only a long list of things we have to get done in order to survive the day. 

Not too long ago, I got a text from my sister…saying that her babies wanted me to come over and sit by the pool. As usual, she included a video of cute kids in swimming suits. And as you’ve probably guessed, soon thereafter, I found myself sweating by an over-sized kiddie pool as three little blondes tried to impress me with their varied water tricks. No sooner had I sat down when I started to hear the words, “Lee Lee watch me!” The first few times, I obediently focused all of my undivided attention on whatever it is they wanted to show me. But no matter how long or diligently I watched them…no sooner would I blink then I would hear again, “Lee Lee watch me! Are you watching?” Over and over and over again…”Lee Lee watch me! Watch me!” I finally looked at my sister with desperation, “Smeegs…I can’t take it anymore. Make them stop.” She smiled with that all-knowing look of an exhausted mother and said, “Why do you think I invited you over? It was so I could have break from watching them.” 

I learned something important by the pool that day. No matter their age, gender, or personality, kids want us to watch them. But I think it’s more than that. Kids don’t just want your eyes on them…they want some kind of proof that you actually see them. They want somebody to say, “I see you. Here’s what I see. And I approve.”

So, here is my humdinger “ah-ha” moment…if that’s true about kids, it’s also true about us grown-ups. Because before we were all dragging ourselves through days of soul-sucking responsibilities, we were little kids at parks and in pools, chanting, “Watch me, watch me, watch me!” Sure, we can’t chant that now…or other grown-ups would think we had lost our ever-loving minds. But I think our hearts are still saying it…over and over again…even if some of us have done a bang-up job of trying to ignore it.

Some of you may be wondering, “This is all good stuff, Owsley…but what does it have to do with suffering?” Good question. I guess it comes down to one thing: when everything is stripped away and you’re vulnerable, afraid, and in pain…who is still watching you? Who hasn’t taken their eyes off of your life…even when your life has gotten really hard to watch?

I think what I’ve learned through my emotional tsunamis’ is that God never takes His eyes off of me…not even for a moment. And because He loves me beyond measure, He has gifted me with people to sit next to me and say, “I see you. Here’s what I see. And I approve.” I am profoundly grateful for these people…their eyes allow me to see God’s goodness, even when I can’t remember to look for myself. 

Friends, if you love someone…don’t close your eyes. Don’t be silent. Give them proof that you’re watching their life…and you approve of what you see. That kind of love is a bullet train to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It points us straight to our longings…and our longings point us straight to God. 

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