What happens when we realize we have so much to be thankful for and yet life feels nothing like the dream? Some honest thoughts on a brave question we sometimes aren’t brave enough to ask out loud.
French braids. For me it was always the French braids. As I grieved the loss of my baby girl and trudged through the heavy months of wondering if that was it for me, I always noticed the French braids. Little girls with their silky strands woven in tight symmetry, some other mother’s perfect art left me hoping, wishing.
Will I ever get to do French braids?
As vivid as that memory is my reality many years later involves two little girls (not to mention two boys) who call me mom, long blonde hair and all. “Please, brush your hair!” is at least a twice daily command in our home. French braids happen, no doubt, but two double sets leave my fingers aching. One girl complains for me to braid faster; the other whines that it hurts. Occasionally, there are tears.
I’m living the dream here, wrapped in satire.
Of course I am grateful. I have euphoric and warm fuzzy moments, but if I’m honest, it’s mostly when the kids are sleeping. I watch the subtle rhythm of their chests and somehow grace covers everything. The tide of gratitude surges in when the pace slows, quiets.
But what about our waking hours? How do I reconcile the fact that so much of my life is good – things I’ve prayed, wished and dreamed for, even – and yet when I arrive here it feels nothing like a dream? It feels like wrangling whiny girls into messy braids. It feels like tension with my husband over small inconveniences. It looks like dirty light switch covers, smudged windows and sticky fingers touching everything.
Yesterday I heard an all too familiar verse that made me stop short.
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. Genesis 2:7 NKJV
From dust. Really. That gritty and grainy, limitless substance that blankets my home faithfully. It swirls in the air, creeps over and in, through and behind everything.
Why dust, God?
I don’t even like dust. Who does? It’s one of the dream wreckers of a lovely home – a fine, powdery houseguest that appears all too frequently, stays too long and always returns. Like the grace of a sleeping child, I’m at ease, mostly thankful, when the my home is rid of dust.
My heart finds peace with sleeping children and a clean home. Now, now I will be thankful.
It’s all quite ridiculous when it’s laid out neatly in words, but it feels so rational in my day to day.
Ecclesiastes 3:20 bluntly reminds us that these earthly bodies of ours were made from the dust and will be returned to dust one day as well. It’s fascinating that God chose to use such a humble substance for such gigantic purpose, isn’t it? And I wonder – could He still be using it? Before, after and in the midst of it all too?
What if, through the grittiness of this life, He is still shaping me?
What if that fine layer of dust that covers my home – the one plays at the edges of my identity making me question whether I’m enough for this job, if I’ll ever really be able to keep up – what if He is still using it to refine and shape, to breathe His life into me?
Are you here, God, right in the midst of my not quite perfect and somewhat forsaken places? Are you using this, God?
Could all of this dust, the dry and gritty places of my heart be bidding me to look up?
When God breathed life into man, everything changed. It was never about the dust. It was always about Him – His breath, His life, entering the dry and dusty places and changing absolutely everything.
This truth becomes my hope. He does stuff with dreams that don’t quite feel like we imagined, ones that feel more like reality. He breathes life into dry and dusty things. His breath makes even the most humble of substances more than enough.
May that fine layer of dust, those dry and gritty places of heart, of our days, remind us to invite Him, the original Artist and Creator, to breath His life here. It truly changes everything.