Our oldest son is the child we’ve had for the shortest amount of time.
Also, he’s not exactly a “child” at all, but a 20-year-old young man.
He came to us first in increments, over pockets of time stretching thin across years, the kinds of years that now feel like months, weeks, moments. He came slowly, over homemade mac and cheese, reluctant board games that split our sides, his first sit-down dinner out, hours spent with my husband in the garage juggling oil filters and his cell phone.
And then he came all at once, on a throbbing current of pain and need.
For the first time, he felt the poverty of his soul enough to ask for help.
It felt so good to be needed.
He started getting loud about having a Mom and Dad. He found reasons to say those dormant words.
Our collective love gathered steam and drew us tighter over the next year. We lived the full “family” experience – good/bad/screaming-matches-on-a-Saturday-afternoon. Everything became palpably real. We were a family. We navigated boundaries and tweaked our expectations. We learned to ask for help when we needed it. We learned to tell the truth.
And then he regained a bit of his freedom.
And then he went back to jail.
We don’t see him often, now. But we savor the moments when we do. Last time, I asked the question that nagged me most, “Why didn’t you ask us for help?” His response was ready, “You know it’s hard for me to ask for help, Mom.”
I tried to pretend I didn’t understand every pitch and dip of his words. I hopped up on my high horse, scolding him for his pride.
It’s easy to demand vulnerability when it’s not mine at stake. It’s so much comfier on the giving end of help.
We pray for help in quiet breaths, barricaded against a public display of neediness.We sprint to the rescue of those around us, so quick to help, so happy to play the savior.
But there are days when the tables spin, and we’re not so quick to point our finger at pride.
We shuffle through whatever dirt we’re in while God stands ready to meet our need through our neighbor. When it comes time for someone to be our Jesus, our feet sure do drag.
Honestly, I should know better by now.
“The more you fulfill yourself, the less you will seek God” – Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
The past few years have been an exercise in believing God often answers our prayers through other humans.
I’m starting to see the profound beauty in living a life many might describe as chaotic, or even irresponsible. In abandoning just a slice of our American, middle-class sensibility, we find ourselves positioned to receive help. Sometimes we even ask for it.
Living in such a way that we can no longer always do for ourselves, we’re stitched more securely into the fabric of community, where everyone takes turns lending a hand and the lines of us/them slide and blur and float away.
If we can’t be vulnerable and needy to the folks around us, how can we possibly be fully vulnerable to our Maker?
In this haphazard communion of misfit humanity, we lean into one another and find living proof of who God is and how He loves us.
God’s economy is not one of independence or boot-strap hoisting. Ours is a faith built on immeasurable need.
He stands waiting to help, ready to wow us by the way He shows up.Leave a Comment