We sat face to face, two friends meeting over morsels of food–bonded by shared days and broken expectations. Trust opened mouth and heart. And I handed you these word-stones; placed them one by one into your hands, shedding burden of what happened the previous night…sharing this parent-woe.
You received these things with open palms, wrapped slender fingers tight arount them, clutched them close to your breast–faithful in the receiving. But you grew more silent with the addition of each onus.
I saw fear.
I said much. But what I did not say weighs heavily. This is the unfettering. So here goes.
What I did not say was, yes–being a mother has been my greatest burden…my greatest sacrifice. But also my greatest joy. How to describe the way the heart moves when gazing on my sleeping child? I thought I knew what love was once, but my understanding grew deeper–my world stretched tremendously–when they came into my life. It is bigger than I could ever have imagined; indescribable.
What I did not say was, yes–I have given up many things that gave me satisfaction; my life no longer is only mine. There are times when I cannot catch my breath for the demands placed on me. But all these things fall away when tiny hand wraps around my heart…when I smell the sweetness of boy-flesh freshly washed. And all my hopes and dreams soar–wrapped up in tiny person-package. And I realize, my life is no longer only mine…how sweet it is.
How can I explain the beauty in watching understanding light up small face? In hearing words from tiny mouth speak wisdom as they grow? To know that my every word is heard, my every action is watched, mimicked. It makes me a better person. It makes me the person I want to be.
What I did not say was how deeply satisfying it is to teach the greatest truths of life–to pass knowledge into the world through them…such a privilege, such an honor. And I know this old world is changed for this…The very foundations shaken as their lives shatter the atmosphere of sameness. Their lives…just a drop in eternity–drops that fill to overflow.
How do I explain the gift of wrecked schedules, sleepless nights, worry over the tiniest of things? Oh, how lavish is the gift! The gift that makes me step outside myself, rely on faith–on things unseen–and trust in God in ways I never dreamed required.
This gift–the gift of a servant heart–teaches me endlessly. I never would have known this servant love–the tenderness of washing feet–if I had continued on living only for me. I was never given this gift as a child. I only knew self-preservation, self–self. No one else took care of me but me. What I did not learn through example is taught to me through the care of my children. There is marrow-deep love in serving. It invades my every cell, creeps into my blood, oozes out into my world, seeps into the details of life. Because there is nothing for it. It is a contagion. And once caught, there is no cure.
In putting another’s needs before my own I learn–in some small way–the gift of what was given to me over two thousand years ago.
This crazy-love should invoke fear, yes…but oh, to move past that place. To embrace the fear, and the love and the messiness of the gifts that life gives…this is living to the full.
These are the things I did not say. But there is so much more. Some things cannot be given word.
Forgive me, the unspoken.