*tap tap tap*
“Is this thing on? Can y’all hear me?”
My old youth minister stood in the pulpit, tapping his microphone and addressing the crowd of mourners.
“We shared some good stories, and we shared some serious stories, and now we’re going to talk about more serious stuff,” he said. “Stuff that she would want you to know. She was a dirty, rotten sinner.”
As is often the case, he wove grace into the picture, placing Christ in the rightful spot, a rescuer Who pulls us from our depravity, gives us new life, and allows us to continue walking this earth until we have fulfilled a purpose suited for His glory.
The funeral was beautiful; a representation of a life lived in the service of others and celebrated as a “going home,” not a mournful memorial of a life lost too soon. As dirty, rotten sinners go, she was well loved and she will be well remembered. God is big, and she is His.
*tap tap tap*
The rapping on my window startled me. I had just gotten into my car and was about to leave the service when the knuckles lightly knocked. I turned and saw my mother standing there, smiling.
“I got caught up talking to some other people,” she said. “I wanted to finish talking to you.”
I got out of my car and we started talking about life, hugging and shaking hands with others walking to their cars and going on with their days. One by one the vehicles slipped out of the church parking lot and my confessions slipped off my tongue.
“Mom, I’m struggling with my children.
“I’m a bad father.
“I’m a bad husband.
“I need to be in therapy.
“I just wish I could ask my doctor for more meds.
“Yes we’re in church, but I need to be taking it more seriously.
“I need to put less on Alicia.”
As I emptied my worries, tears filled her eyes and rain began to fall.
*tap tap tap*
Mom had her umbrella up, both of us choosing to ignore the dry warmth of our vehicles, opting instead to continue a conversation as somber as the weather outside. The raindrops tapped on her umbrella, a metronome marking the cadence of all of the ways I’m not good enough to be where I am.
She reached for me, pulling me under the umbrella, and began to remind me Whose I am. She reminded me that she loved me, and she wished I wouldn’t put myself down, and that I am precisely where I need to be with the children I need to father because that’s exactly where God wants me.
She encouraged me to get into therapy or counseling. She discouraged the medication. She talked to me about the importance of church, and the principles of bringing up children in church. She told me kids these days have more distractions than I did, and I needed to remember that.
Then she grabbed my hand and said, “I have to go. But I also have to pray for you, right now.
“Father, we’re hurting. We’re all trying our best…”
*tap tap tap*
Tears replaced the raindrops, etching the proof of a mother’s love and acceptance into my cheeks before staining my shirt.
She said amen, she told me she loved me, and she walked to her car, leaving me with a lot to think about.
I am struggling right now. I’m struggling with happiness in my job for the first time in five years, I’m struggling with children who are apathetic, lazy, and who blame everyone else but themselves. I myself have become apathetic and lazy about my health and my relationships. I have placed an unfair amount of responsibility on my wife to “fix” my kids, and keep the house clean whilst she’s doing it.
Things are not good.
But hope still taps. Love still taps. Acceptance still taps. Somewhere in the back of my mind, they all tap, sometimes lightly, sometimes loudly, and I am reminded that I have found grace as a dirty, rotten sinner. Grace that covers my parenting, my adulting, and my husbanding. Not grace as an excuse to keep doing what I’m doing. But grace that covers my inadequacies when my best simply isn’t good enough.
I put my car in gear, connected my phone to my stereo, and turned it up to hear,
“…will carry on, we’ll carry on, and though you’re broken and defeated…”
Here’s to the tapping. Here’s to the dirty, rotten sinners, and here’s to the grace that covers it all.
They tell me one day I’ll miss these times. They say I’ll want them back, I’ll give anything to have just one more day of it. I disagree. But I’m thankful for the lessons I’m learning along the way.
“I won’t explain, or say I’m sorry
I’m unashamed, I’m gonna show my scars.
Give a cheer, for all the broken,
Listen here, because it’s who we are.