“AUNTIE LEE-LEE! I GITCHYOUU!” He said as he ran ran ran around with nothing but a dirty diaper on and hours of beyond tiredness in his eyes. I scooped him up and spun him around while wiggling my nose behind is baby-wrinkled neck and then laid a big fat wet raspberry on his belly as his face turned red from laughing uncontrollably. The truth is, we were all laughing. It was the most I have laughed in months. There is nothing like a toddler to remind you of love, laughter and that life can feel somewhat okay again.
I’ll let you in on the best secret I’ve discovered in the past one and a half years. Being an aunt is the best thing ever. In my eyes, my nephew can do no wrong (despite what his parents think). I love that little peanut to bits, and will give him endless snuggles and belly raspberries.
This realization came to me over the weekend, sandwiched like a slice of deli meat, between some pretty frustrating and wanting-to-throw-my-hands-in-the-air-or-just-cry moments.
Life has just felt heavy. It’s felt like the weight of all that is placed in my days has been dragging behind me, a load I just cannot carry. And it’s truly been the small things that have felt the most heavy and it’s been the questions that have unraveled on a never ending spool of thread that prove to be the most demanding of my heart.
It’s been the belittling text from a male co-worker, that seems like my job has been diminished to be his assistant. Do I say something? Do I name that miniscule thing that seems to be the exact type of thing that contributes to this crazy system of patriarchy? Do I risk being misunderstood, unheard, unseen? Do I put myself–my job– on the line if it means one small thing might be changed for someone who comes after me? OR. I could just take a really long nap.
It’s been the struggle to rest. The incessant lie that the devil whispers into my ear that I will never be worthy unless I attain something that is admirable. The striving to be the best female employee in my organization, the best in my field, the best at leadership and writing and speaking. How can I sleep when there are problems relating to people that must be solved? There are books to be read, what do you mean I need to take a nap?
It’s been the pain of loss and disappointment and heartache, still present after nearly a year and a half of losing my dad. How do I move forward when it feels like there was so much that was buried along with him? How can I hold the things that felt like losses even when he was alive when trying to honor him in his death? There is a gaping hole in our family, how do we even begin to talk about it, to heal?
I could go on.
But it was these moments, juxtaposed with the true moments of love, joy and laughter and snuggling my nephew that brought me to realize that maybe this is how God actually deals with me.
Mind blowing, right?
I don’t think I’ve taken much time in my life to imagine how God might experience me in those moments where it seems like I don’t really know what to think or do. What if, despite our behavior, our actions, our striving, God picked us up and gave us a huge snuggle and belly-raspberry out of pure delight, and steadfast love.
Seems weird, I know, but those are the moments in my life, where God’s loving-kindness, hesed, has been most real to me.
I scoop up my nephew, and lay a sloppy wet, belly-raspberry on him. Because he is a delight. Yes, he’s a pooper and cries often. But he is a delight.
It’s in those small moments of struggle I talked about, those battles where I believe God scoops me up and lays a huge belly-raspberry on me, because whether I acted or not, whether I am striving or not, whether I am able to move forward or not, God delights in me.
Screw up? Belly-raspberry.
Decide to take a nap because the energy of fighting is just too much? Belly-raspberry.
Working until 3 am? Belly-raspberry.
Sleeping until noon? Belly-raspberry.
Can’t talk about that loss? Belly-raspberry.
Got emotional in a staff meeting? Belly-raspberry.
Why is it that this truth is the hardest one to grasp? God delights in me. God delights in you. God’s delight is not contingent upon any outcome we are able to manifest in our lives. God’s delight is everlasting, and steadfast, and good.