On Monday, nestled next to me as the brothers napped, you told me about your prayer: I believe in God, mom, and I told him that!
And in that unexpected moment, in your purity and pride and eager sharing, something rushed like a cool vein through my desert heart. And it felt like Hope.
It was a simple sentence of a prayer, one that you whispered while cross-legged behind Grammy’s couch on Easter Sunday.
The days before Sunday, we had been reading your Bible storybook, the chapters telling of Jesus’ humanity and humility. Of a redemption story. You had so many questions and I tried to answer them, tried to tell you in a way you would understand. He did this for you! He loves you! He came for you! It is effortless to see God’s love for you because of my love for you. And during a season when it has been difficult to understand His affection for this world, you remind me of how deep and lush and unlimited it really is.
You have been learning and leaning into this story for a while now. But, honestly, I have been holding on to your story loosely. I know so many people who prayed this simple prayer at four or fourteen, because they were scared or manipulated, because of pressure or panic. I don’t want you to believe because of what you don’t want, but because of what you do want. Because, sweet girl, I want you to fall in love with Jesus, I want you to experience His goodness, I want you to taste and see and know for yourself.
Your question again and again was, “is Jesus for real, mom?” You are trying to understand, in a world of childhood imagination and disney movies and holiday mascots: what is pretend? what is real? Mostly: what can I trust? If only you knew, little one, that as grown-ups, as your mom: I ask the same question. In the middle of corruption and cancer and terror: is He for real? In the middle of church politics and election years and my own greed: is He for real? In the midst of laundry and longing: is He for real?
But then, we read together, of a woman who didn’t belong with the “important” people breaking a jar of her most precious possession, saturating Jesus’ feet with her tears and all that she had and all that she hoped for. Right there, in front of the do-gooders judging her, Jesus said: she has done the most beautiful thing. Later, I went back, opened your storybook Bible while you were asleep, and read it again. And this time I let myself cry.
We read together, about how Jesus, the night before the cross–realizing He was and is in complete charge of everything–put on an apron, poured a warm basin and washed His friend’s feet. An act of surrender and adoration and undignified dignity.
And then we read of this one last supper with His friends. And we sat around the table as a family, pouring the wine & juice, ripping the bread and I tried to put into human words how holy this was. And we ate and drank, among the normal and every day, gulping from mason jars and sippy cups, trying to make space for the sacred. And that night we went to church, and we wore black.
The weekend carried on, and Sunday came (remember this: Sunday always comes) and somewhere between brunch and lunch, we put on our favorite dresses and the day was bright even though the sky was drizzling gray. And we talked of life and of forever and of redemption and something was moving inside of you, and you prayed: I believe.
I know this is simply the start of your story, a glowing seed that will need water and air and light to grow, through winter seasons and summer ones, weaving vines into your life, and hopefully blossoming into a sturdy tree of faith: one that gives delicious and hearty hope to all who come near it.
Oh girl, there is a lot I don’t know, and a lot you don’t know yet either. But I pray that in all of your deciding what is real, you keep finding Him. And each time you do, you desperately pour your most valuable possession, your alabaster soul, at His feet.
No matter what the important people say.