Often in my garden I find myself surprised by discoveries. Whether I’ve discovered tiny little seedlings breaking through the soil where I planted seeds, fruit underneath a flower I smelled the day before or a new way to look at God, I’m always in awe. This weekend I was finishing construction and filling of my new raised beds and I decided to move the stepping-stones the kids had made my husband many years ago and put them inside the garden. They’ve moved more than most stones do. They spent a few years on the front porch, then finally made it to the back yard and for the last year or so they were the path leading up to the greenhouse entrance.
Our Children grew up and the stones got damaged. The one made by Boo was the shape of a butterfly and a piece broke off the bottom of the wing. The square one made by Blonde boy somehow ended up in 5 pieces. And despite digging all around the path leading to my greenhouse, I was not able to find the 5th piece. The round one made by the Princess has a few stones missing. As I placed them in the ground over the weekend I realized they were a symbol of the relationship the children had with their father at this moment in time.
The blonde boy is seventeen and searching for his wings to fly away. At this time his relationship with his father is contentious, but still visible. There are cracks and fissures and even a large chunk is missing but it’s still there. The stone is still a stone. The love is still there even if it’s hard to see even hard to look at some times. You see in our home, I am respected above all. My husband, like his father before him, taught our children that I am the mother, I love them more than they can ever know and they will always respect me for that. So the anger and angst of growing up especially from the boys has always been aimed at their father. I’m the Mother who is never blamed for punishment.
Boo made the Butterfly, it has the bottom part of the wing broken off. There’s been some bumps and bruises along the way, but Boo is just now reaching the stage where he will begin to pull away from us. He will be twelve next month. He’s been a pretty good child –not perfect by any stretch of the definition-- but good. And he is entering the teen years, and beginning to assert his independence and identify more with the blonde boy. (The blonde boys teenage years have been very challenging!) Which also makes him a lot like his father. Who also liked to push the boundaries as a teenager and young adult.
The Princess made a circle. She was not quite two when we did this, so mostly I made a circle. Her stone is missing a few stones here and there but for the most part it’s still in one piece. And you can see the “I Love Daddy” pretty clearly in the middle. She is only eight years old. She still believes her Daddy is the greatest man in the world. (I think he is too, but that’s another post) She still says she’s going to college online so she never has to leave our house. (Oh yeah she’s gonna break his heart one day.)
But beyond the symbolism that is their relationship with their father, I also saw an over arching symbolism in our relationship with our Heavenly Father. When we are young Christians we believe our God is the most amazing being ever. He will help us overcome anything and standing on His shoulders we are undefeatable! We are victorious. We are perfect new creations.
Then as time goes by, we pray and don’t get our prayers answered the way we want them to be. We begin to doubt our God. We think maybe He isn’t really all he’s cracked up to be, and this being a Christian thing is pretty hard. Making good choices, trying to be like Jesus, it isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s a tough road to hoe to be in the world but not of it.
Then a little later on we’ve really fallen. We are so broken we can’t even find all the pieces to our stones anymore. That higher rock that we thought would protect us and provide shelter has become anchor tying us down with responsibility and guilt. To be the hands and feet. To see a need --so many needs in this world we can’t fix can be overwhelming and can make us all just want to hide out in our churches with our broken hearts and missing pieces. But we don’t speak of those broken hearts and missing pieces. People might think we aren’t faithful if we aren’t blessed.
But sometimes God lets us break, so He can put us back together and if we do have missing pieces then they were not supposed to be part of us to begin with. They were extra pieces --baggage if you will-- that we gathered on our own along the way and God needs us to put that down. And God really needs us all to put down the glue and paint we use to cover our broken hearts and the paper mache we have fashioned to cover our missing pieces. God needs us to expose our broken hearts and missing pieces because that’s the only way to help our church and our world.
When Jesus walked among us He didn't tell his disciples they must be perfect, he did not go into the synagogues & temples and pick the most religious, the most righteous. And most of the really good stories from the Bible involve really shady characters and really bad choices. No God doesn't call saints to lead He calls sinners to become Leaders and then he equips those willing to follow.
If you are too busy playing perfect, who’s going to share their imperfections with you? and even if someone is brave enough to share their vulnerabilities, how can you hear them through your mask?