I was 15 when I had Cheyenne. Mind blowing, is it not? Because two years before that, I had just stopped playing with Barbie dolls. (Whatever, ok? It wasn’t so much the dolls as it was building houses for them out of tall picture books and arranging their furniture just so.)
At that age, my narrow mind could not comprehend the possibility of a future that didn’t involve crazy amounts of shame and suffering. I didn’t need anyone to make me feel bad about my situation; I branded myself with a big fat scarlet letter.
Being well on the other side of what I thought was the end of my life, it would be so neat to have the opportunity to reassure my teenage self that life would eventually turn out okay. Not picture-perfect all the time, but okay–good, even. I would say things like:
- This baby that you’re having? She’s going to be smarter than the smartest person you’ve ever met in your whole life. Freaking valedictorian material. And you’ll burst into tears at the thought of sending her off to college. And she’ll be witty and hilarious and beautiful and you will love her to death even when she’s bucking the rules with all she’s got. She will be your absolute heart.
- Also: you’ll have some more kids. This is an insane thought what with your current lack of patience and common sense but bear with me: A little girl with giant chocolate-chip eyes, and freckles sprinkled across her nose. Super-athletic with your strong legs. Little softball player, this one. And sweet and sensitive and gentle; ridiculously kind and caring. She loves some stupid British boy-band and she wants a guinea pig with every ounce of her being, but you won’t let her have one. She’s doing extra chores to prove she’s responsible enough.
- But you’re not budging.
- Remember that.
- A little boy who looks just. like. you. and who loves to be outside, riding bikes and hiking and playing ball and mowing the lawn and getting into the mud and finding bugs and frogs. He lives to make you laugh and he’s mischievous and playful. His blue eyes stare right into your very soul. He’s so loveable you could just die.
- Your husband is top-notch. Best there ever was. When you meet him–and you haven’t yet–you need not look any further. But you’ll know that immediately, and you won’t.
- You live in Oklahoma of all places, and the decision to move there was voluntary. Contrary to what you think now, it’s not some barren, desolate, tornado-ridden wasteland…although sometimes your yard does look like a cross between Afghanistan and the surface of the moon. You have not seen one twister. You’re even thinking about raising chickens.
- You have friends there that would cut off their arms for you if you needed one.
- Go ahead and forget that dream of being some sort of underwater geologist. Face it: the only reason you really want to do that is so you can drive a bubble car around the ocean. Instead, you should paint more. Like, a lot more. Because you love it and you’ve got good ideas.
- Be nice to your parents and your sisters. They’re going to help you in more ways then you’ll be able to count, and they’ll love you, as they do now, more than you’ll ever know.
- This is not the only hard thing you’ll ever go through. In fact, in comparison to the rest of your life, this whole time will seem like cake-walk. But I guarantee you’ll get through it. It’s alright to scream and cry. I suggest prayer–and lots of it.
- It’ll be okay.
Now. If only I had 50-year-old Toni to pay me a reassuring visit, I’d be all set.
Today before Sunday school, we teachers talked about this morning’s lesson: Those gosh-darn walls of Jericho. What even is that all about? There’s this city, surrounded by strong brick walls, and God’s people are supposed to take it. God gives them these crazy directions like “walk once around the city every day for 6 days. And then on the 7th day, walk around the city 7 times. And then blow your trumpets and make a junkton of noise. It’ll be so great; I promise.”
I’ve always looked at this story as cute; a fun lesson to teach, perfect for 2 and 3 year-olds: they can build block towers and knock them down like miniature bosses. They can for darn sure make a lot of noise. Not a whole lot of takeaway on my end, unless you maybe count a growing desire to take trumpet lessons as a takeaway.
Our children’s ministry leader said that maybe the Israelites must have been all: “This is some bull. Why are we doing this? It’s the sixth day already and still–nothing. Pointless. My feet hurt. The city is ginormous. Walking is getting us nowhere. God, give us something here. This is hard and ridiculous.”
The funny thing is that my class takes this story to heart. They find no flaws in God’s directions. I have a feeling these kids would put me and the Israelites to shame: “God says seven times? Well then, by cracky, we march 7 times!” No questions asked.
I am of course going to relate this story now to just listening to God through life’s struggles. I find myself asking “What’s the point, God?” so many times, especially over the last few weeks. It may be a while before I see reasons or results, but the best plan is always trusting in God’s plan.
Oh man, that I would have these kind of guts. Everything in me wants to take all matters into my own hands. That something can only be okay after I understand it fully. God is a light in a long dark tunnel, but it’s still a long dark tunnel. And it’s not so easy to have the courage and obedience of Joshua. And some days I’m lacking in the endurance department, and I’m tired of walking. And I want an explanation, or a time frame…or both.
And I have to pray that God gives me the heart of a child so that I can have unwavering faith and total dependence on Him that I need to get through some of the hard parts–so that when they’re over, God can receive the credit He deserves. There is so much I cannot do by myself.
What I can do is believe what God promises. And God promises that even though there’s no future me to visit present-day me, things will be okay.