Often over the years, I’ve found myself pondering God’s love, his grace. I’ve asked myself what does it look like to fully experience his love overflowing, to feel as though you are walking in his grace abounding? Have you?
I know it happens, Townes’s miracles upon miracles are proof but lately I have been yearning to have a ‘heaven on earth’ moment, again.
Jesus uses the term “much more” six times throughout the gospels to express our value to the Father and his provision. I can only assume this to mean, Jesus wants me to pay attention, to understand the importance and significance of ‘the much more.’ One of my favorite ‘much more’ passages occurs in Matthew 6, when Jesus reminds us that our Father in heaven looks after the birds in sky and surely we are much more valuable than they. Revelation from this passage alone years ago began to chip away at my wrong belief of a ‘just enough’ God to a God who continually gives.
We have been in a season of surviving between adding a baby, moving, and losing consistent childcare – we made it through the September shuffle and so far, it looked as if we will eke out of the October scramble mostly unscathed or so I thought.
Last week, I had a moment where this perfectionist had to face the hard truth that perhaps she is doing enough to get by but maybe not at the standard to which she expects of herself.
Scott has been taking Townes to school and on this particular morning, he called me to tell me he forgot to grab Townes medicine. I told him no big deal, just to let the teachers know I would be running it by on my way to the office. Grace. Side note: do you find it easier to extend grace to others than to yourself sometimes? I do.
But then my phone rang again. While internally I felt more than frustrated as I can’t seem to get through my morning to get Ella Jane ready for the day much less myself – I answered anyway.
Scott: “did you know this week is spirit week at school? Homecoming.”
….as if someone in a far-off land used a mallet to clang on a cymbal, a distant memory clanged through my mind as I tried to find the email in my internal filing system – oh the emails upon emails.
Me: “it rings a bell” (pun intended)
Scott: “today is pajama day, all the kids are in pajamas”
All the kids are in pajamas…all the kids are in pajamas…all the kids but mine. Whelp. Complete deflation as the realization sinks in – I sent Townes to school in his uniform.
Like a rush of water, I became consumed with my own insecurities and fears that I have so carefully and meticulously hidden away. My insecurity that Townes will be seen as different by his peers and adults alike because of his daily medication, different because of his chronic ear infections, different because of his doctor’s appointments, different because of his eczema flares. One by one these threatened to bubble over the surface of my ‘I’ve got this all-together persona’ because I forgot spirit week! Now I’ve made him different…
**And I recognize these insecurities belong to me and yes, Jesus and I will revisit them (ha) as I never want to project them onto my son.
In retrospect, what makes all this even more interesting is I didn’t even realize it was affecting me. When Scott got home to pick up Ella Jane my mood was a little snappier, my temperament rougher around the edges. When Scott attempted to tell me that sending Townes to school is in his uniform was not a big deal and it was okay, I proceeded to let him know “nothing is wrong, I just need to get to my office.”
I wonder now, how often do I do that…minimize the impact of an action, conversation, decision, or an event? How often to try to placate my own feelings simply because I can’t understand their significance or pinpoint the route, the deeper fear or insecurity? I sure hope I am not alone.
But…the good news? Even the Holy Spirit can speak to us when our are blinders on.
I headed up to the school with Townes medicine in tow and now his favorite “dino” jammies his Grams got for him. I was waiting for him in the nurse’s office where I was hoping to discretely administer his medicine and offer his pajamas so no ‘extra’ attention would be given.
But when his teacher, Mrs. Sturgeon (who by the way is living out her God given giftings as a pre-k teacher), appeared, I was surprised and only later realized maybe a little disappointed too. She said, “Come with me as we are about to file out of the gym.”
As I started following her, I found myself praying (pleading really): ‘oh please oh please Lord, don’t let Townes be the only child in his uniform. Please, please, please let there be another parent like me.”
One by one the pajama kids in his class filed out and it’s then I see Townes. He yells “MOM” and starts running towards me. While is excitement over my presence is abounding (much like I imagine the Lord’s excitement when we make time for him), I found myself too distracted with the internal devastation of feeling like I somehow let Townes down, failed him in some way because he is the only child I see in his uniform rather than pajamas.
After I gave Townes his medicine, I offered him his pajamas. And what happened next, I could have never foreseen.
I stood witness as Townes looked up at me and in his pure innocence says, “No mom, Mrs. Sturgeon made me the ‘Sturgeon Star’ today and with his head held high he jumped so his feet landed a little further than hip distance and his arms stretched straight out. As I stood there in disbelief, looking at my son, a star (literally standing with 5 points), I heard Mrs. Sturgeon say, ‘yes, Townes is our Sturgeon Star today and all the kids have cheered for him.’
This wonderful teacher did what came natural to her operating within her God given giftings. She created a situation of love, grace, and acceptance for my son. Where Townes could have been seen as different and experienced shame not of his own doing, she saw the opportunity to remind him of his uniqueness, of his identity as a child of God and one made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-28). Mrs. Sturgeon saw him and she demonstrated love.
I feel as though standing there I felt Jesus himself take a little stitch and close a small wound in my heart. I experienced a little bit of heaven on earth. I saw the Lord’s mercy and his never-ending grace. He lavished me with his love through Townes’s teacher and reminded me that he loves my son even more than I do. I heard him whisper, Townes is fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and because of my love your son is a child of God (1 John 3).
Mrs. Sturgeon (and for that matter teachers everywhere) may never understand their impact – she may never understand the depths to which her small action and one she likely discounts has moved me and the ways in which the Lord spoke through her – an eternal difference, the much much more.
It’s here in these truths, I will find my rest. My prayer for myself in these moments where my insecurities start to creep in as I know they undoubtedly will while navigating this journey of parenting is that I can remember Townes precious pre-k 3 teacher and the heaven on earth picture she gifted me. Engrained forever on my heart is the scene of Townes standing as a star.
There are so many lessons for me wrapped up in this story. For the last week I can’t stop mediating on it. I am continually asking the Lord to keep showing me what he wants me to know, and I am sure more revelation will come in time. In the meantime, I am oh so grateful for a ‘much more’ God.
A God who sees not only me, but who sees and values, my son, Townes. He went out of his way to speak to me, to show me his love and offer his grace abounding. And so now, my prayer for you is that you would be gifted a ‘heaven on earth’ experience too, one where you unequivocally feel God’s love for you, and you can bask in his glorious presence.