Dear Kid — and dear you trying to be brave and face hard things:
I know it seems the unbelievable impossible— but really — it’s going to happen one day to you too.
Turns out you can blink and find your mother’s very words rolling right there off the tip of your tongue.
So hear me out on this, okay?
(I know, I know — How in the world does it turn out that you become your mother and really, how do her words migrate decades later into your mouth? It’s a great cosmic mystery of the universe.)
And this is true too — it turns out you can blink and find yourself standing there looking at a younger version of your eye-rolling self. I see me in you.
I know, it looks like I am too wrinkled and beat up to get it — but try this: When you look at me, before you roll your eyes, use your imagination: I was once a something-teen-year-old too.
I could once whip my eyes around like you and sting the soft side of my own mama, and yeah, being a teenager can be a bit like being a random sniper.
Took me a long time to know that — actually, I didn’t come to know it. I came to feel it.
So when you got off the phone the other day and turned to ask me if you could go with them too, because, c’mon, everyone else was going? There were my mother’s words right there in my mouth, my own mother on my lips:
“Look, I could tell you that you could go… but I love you too much.”
And you did what I did — you rolled your eyes like you could just roll me down. And in a blink, I’m you, rolling my eyes at my own mother just like that.
In a blink, I’m 13 all over again and begging Mama — telling her I’m going to about die if she doesn’t let me go to Tina Moreau’s 13th birthday party. Tina’s sleepover 13th birthday party. Tina’s co-ed sleepover 13th birthday party.
Apparently my mother didn’t care if I died. Or had a hissy fit or if my whipping eye rolls resulted in said eyeballs detaching at 98 miles a minute from their sockets resulting in serious injury to anyone in close enough proximity.
Mama just said there was no way her daughter was sleeping over in the same room of sleeping bags where Shawn Petersen and Dougie Boursma were slapping their pillows down too.
Sure, I told her I didn’t even like those goobery boys, I wouldn’t talk to those boys, there was just no way I wanted to be the weird kid out, the weird kid with strict parents [20-year-later insert: the kid with the only sane parents] who wouldn’t let her go to the co-ed sleepover birthday party.
And my own Mama? Mama just said I could huff all I wanted to, but nothing was going to blow down her mama-clad resolve.
And, yeah, I’d rolled my eyes.
You may have a better huff than I did, really. And yeah, you can definitely fling around to the window sharper than I could, turning that cold shoulder faster than the speed of light.
But, girl, have you got any idea how I remember wanting to go once too, because all the other kids were going, and being told that the I was loved too much to go (insert eye roll here)? I know it seems impossible, but believe the impossible thing: I know what it’s like to be in a 15-year-old bod and think your mother’s a cretin from a cave who gets some hideously sick joy in crushing all your necessary plans.
So here’s the thing — and it’s true for every parent and every teenager and true for the guy procrastinating and the woman struggling to change old habits and every single one of us going through hard things:
I know there feels like there’s only one of you. The you right now. The one who Feels All The Things.
But believe the impossible things, because it’s true: There are two of you, really.
The Short-Term You — and the Long-Term You. The Now-You — and The Becoming You.
The Immediate You. And the Ultimate You.
And if I only loved the right now Immediate You — and let The Immediate You come and go and do whatever she wanted, whatever made her Feel All The Good Things, whatever made her happiest, I wouldn’t be loving the Ultimate You.
Please hear what All The Parents finally figure out, what I finally realize my own mama was saying:
This isn’t fun for me.
There isn’t one fibre in my soft, pulsing mama heart that likes seeing the Short-Term Immediate You Hurt.
But I love the Long-Term Ultimate You too wide and deep and long — the you that can ultimately be — that I’m willing to take the ire and anger of your Immediate Self right now.
I’m willing to take your anger and your eye rolls and feel the sting of it all on the soft insides of my mother heart.
I’m willing to let my own Immediate Me hurt with your Immediate You — us both hurting together —- because I love the Ultimate You and am committed to the Ultimate You and I won’t sell out the long-term Ultimate You.
Sometimes the short-term Immediate You cannot have what she wants — so that the long-term Ultimate You can be who she wants to be.
Sometimes the short-term Immediate You won’t feel loved —- because this is about ultimately loving the long-term Ultimate You.
Sometimes the short-term Immediate You can’t have immediate gratification — so you can give the long-term Ultimate You what is ultimately best.There are two of you — the Immediate You. And the Ultimate You. Who are you going to ultimately focus on?
So when I told you all that the other day?
When I put my hand on your shoulder and you bit your lip hard to dam everything back?
When I told you that this is what a mother does — Though it kills me to see Immediate You hurting, I ultimately love the Ultimate You. Something burned, filled, my throat, and I felt my own dam give way a bit.
Because there’s this Father, our Father.
Because all of us have things in front of us that are hard and they hurt.
You and I both have this Father and it literally killed Him to see us hurting — and I need to believe it:
When my own Short-Term Immediate Self is hurting, my Father’s hurting with me.
When my short-term Immediate Self is hurting, my Father’s ultimately hurting with me and ultimately healing me and ultimately remaking me and ultimately loving my long-term Ultimate Self.
“His love letter forever silences any doubts: “His secret purpose framed from the very beginning [is] to bring us to our full glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7 NEB).
He means to rename us—to return us to our true names, our truest selves. He means to heal our soul holes.
From the very beginning, that Eden beginning, that has always been and always is, to this day, God’s secret purpose in everything— our return to our full glory.” ( One Thousand Gifts )
Your Father can’t ever do anything other than love our long-term Ultimate Self, the one He’s secretly working everything to bring to full glory.
He can’t do anything less than want our Ultimate Self to be it’s ultimate best.
So when you turned from the window, the phone still there in your hand, turned that bruised shoulder of yours and looked in my eyes, looked to see if you could trust me and this ultimate love that doesn’t feel even one iota like love?
I cupped your face and looked right into your pooling eyes and in that moment, more than any other moment, I felt the burning believing of it with you, I believed with you in the unbelievable impossible—
And you can find your Father’s very words rolling right there off the tip of your tongue, feel the tender grace of it right there on your lips:
Just Trust Me.