relax. calm down.
for Sean and Tiffanie
Stop your crying and wipe away your tears. All that you have done for your children will not go unrewarded; they will return from the enemy’s land. There is hope for your future; your children will come back home. I, the Lord, have spoken.
Back in the day, watching my nieces and nephews play and I see that when they run their eyes close and their mouths fall open laughing. And, I remember that we too played—chasing dandelion puffs and calling them Money Men whispering dreams into their ears and letting them go on, float on. I do remember kicking up stones in brand new Sunday church shoes and never caring.
To my dear liberal, conservative, Christian, agnostic, seeking, atheist, Jewish, Wicca, white mama friends, relax—calm down. Even when the stuff hits the fan and flings down to only then hit rock bottom, more than likely it will all turn out okay. Chances are that even if it doesn't and the stuff turns out to be deadly and toxic, painful, cancerous, un-healing and never better, it’ll all turn out okay.
I have heard your prayers. I’ve received the texts and emails, and though I love you so much, I’m a bit worried for you. What if instead of praying he gets into college, you were praying he gets a fair trial and a just judge who will not give him the full sentence for possession? What if instead of our usual roundup of worries in our prayer circle we weren’t weeping and pleading with God to convince the heavens to keep them from going to that concert, that haunted house, that place that’s so demonic and clearly the work of the enemy and not at all the worldview that she was raised with, but instead we were weeping and pleading to keep them from eternal damnation because everyone knows her suicide was the “unforgivable sin” and the way he loved that boy mixed with that drug is surely equally unredeemable to even the most redemptive of gods? Could it be that even your prayers and, let’s face it, mine too, are fragrant with privilege?
I’ve really wondered why do we, the mothers who have the minivans, the houses worth more than most families’ salaries times a hundred or the gated luxury apartments, the lines of credit, the good schools in good hoods, the men with not jobs but careers—heck a man at all—why do we pray with so much fear?
Back in the day, watching my nieces and nephews play and I see their father’s fist against their mother’s head. I see their Nanna serving 8-25 years in the state pen. I see the invisible father who snuck out late and went God knows where. I see lost mortgages and lost homes and lost apartments and lost jobs and lost food stamps and lost cars and lost tax refunds to pay the government back for the lost student loans. I see my nieces and nephews’ brown, summer legs running on the grass of Great-Grandma’s and calling it home because there was nowhere else to go. I see mothers with two jobs and still broke. I see lottery tickets that never win. I see my sibs’ kids pumping the air and running on wind. I see their lungs heave and inhale big gulps of traces of mercy, and their laughter exhaling hopes floating on dust, unspoken swirling up into the heavens. I see mothers whose hearts years later will still call His Name when the funeral director gently lays the complimentary bible into their hands and whispers again, “I am so sorry for your loss.”
Dear friends, your son will more than likely get into college, or not, and graduate, or not. Either is possible. I offer you no guarantees here except to say that more than likely, I’d say you have a 99.99 percent shot that she will land just as you planned perhaps even more beautiful than you ever could have imagined wrapped up like a bow. But the odds could just as easily swing the other way and nothing will go as you planned because the wind shifted just that tiny fraction of a percent tilting the direction of the sun just enough so that the days are dimmed forevermore. Mamas, there are no guarantees and no formulas that add up to a perfect outcome except the fact that you have all the main, key ingredients in place for a successful bake: the neighborhood, the house, the school, the youth group, the bank account, the parent-teacher conferences, all the extra-curriculas and the music-sport-art lessons, the church, the prayer group, the bible stories, or for those who don’t partake at all in any of those things, I know you’ve read the books that told you how to do it from cradle to grave just so—oh all the books you read.
My advice? Relax. Calm down. Sit and watch them play. Chances are it’ll be okay even if there’s a good chance that it will not. They will run eyes closed. They will run mouths open swallowing the sky. Their legs will pump harder and harder toward the great unknown. Ask me how my nieces and nephews ran face forward all those years ago, eyes closed, mouths open laughing. Ask me how we managed—no land, no man, no home—to let go and say it’s okay. Ask me what their mothers prayed when he and she didn’t come home. Ask me about the memories that hurt the most when they blow through me and go on to chase the wind. Ask me how to say “Amen,” and how to understand “God’s still good and He keeps His promises,” in the critical language of sorrow.