There it was, the question which hung thick in the room. My 10-year-old had just brought all my thoughts to an astounding halt as she simply without as much as a quiver in her voice asked;
‘Can I go to the shopping centre with my friends on Saturday?’
I’m glad my back was turned so she wouldn’t see the colour draining from my face and a little bit too quickly I said “NO”. I turned to see her and her dad both looking confused. What was there to be confused about?
This was not going to happen.
Negotiation chat? Not a chance!
Finding a compromise? Not even a little bit.
I was still back at the question. Shopping centre with her friends. Alone.
Oh dear Lord what season is this called?
You see in that moment, in that very room, I could recall stories of my little girl and what she was like as a baby and what a strong willed toddler she was. I could tell you the longest hour with her was between 4-5pm until the joyous sound of Glen’s car drove into the driveway when he returned from University. I could still tell you word for word the day I took her to buy her first uniform. How we got the bus and had lunch just me and her. I could tell you all of that and because I can, I am not ready for this season to change. It feels like it’s still all brand new.
Can I please catch my breath……
Seasons change, they have to. We wouldn’t survive otherwise but there is still pain and joy in them. This joy of watching and being part of a little girl working out independence and her place in the world and the pain of letting her do that.
At this time in my life I am finding there are more questions than answers. There are times when I wrestle with God about the pain I see in lives around me, sometimes what life throws up and leaves a stench. In those times I struggle whether to believe He is good all the time. I doubt and I question and seasons change without a choice.
Fifteen years ago and a new Christian things were clearer. Black and white. Yes, or no. Nowadays it seems the closer I become to the great I Am, I have more wanderings, more doubts and as I look deep into my heart about issues that I once thought were clear and sorted and they don’t seem very clear and sorted anymore. The refining of who I really am, the acceptance, the love for myself and others with what seems unacceptable and unloving. The letting go, the forgiveness and the getting over. I want with all I have got to push back on the structure and smash it at His feet. I am even more assured of the fight for God’s kingdom being big and robust enough to make everyone welcome. To break the social norms and the neat ideals. I am convinced that God’s Kingdom does have a mandate for us to live radically and not comfortably and mostly it has a commission for us to be the broken to a broken world and to introduce the Jesus, the Healer. Real life is the undignified life; it’s were I learn to be most holy. Not everything is as clear as it once seemed. Nothing fits into its neat and clever little boxes. Conversations can bring more confusion and more doubt but that no longer worries me or disturbs me because in those moments and in those times I find a view of the world I haven’t yet seen before and I want to take that in just a little longer.
Abigail may get her trip to the shopping centre, I’ll probably go for a coffee in a shop nearby. But don’t tell her that…….