It was my first year as a varsity cheerleader. We had a tea for all the moms and daughters on the squad and my aunt came along to fill in the gap. The one left a couple years earlier when a man crossed the center line and ran my mama’s van off the road
We played a game to break the ice. Maybe you’ve played it before. You put a card with a fictional character on your head and asking only “Yes” or “No” questions you have to guess who it is. My coach began to mildly freak out when she realized that my card read, “Little Orphan Annie”
Yes, the redheaded girl who really was an orphan had it plastered right across her forehead.
When I realized it I laughed. Really, truly I did. I mean…of course that is what I got. Story of my life.
But let’s back up a bit because that isn’t really where the story begins.
The story begins where it seemed to end.
My daddy had a head full of salt and pepper hair and ocean blue eyes beneath his wire frames. He fixed small electric motors and always smelled like aftershave and a hint of grease. The year I was born he had open heart surgery, just one more surgery in a long line since the age of five. His heart finally gave out a few weeks after his 46th birthday a few months shy of my 9th. The boy who was born 2lbs small in 1947 and given no hope lived to have a full life with a wife and two children.
Daddy had one real love, aside from the inside of an electric motor, and he met her in a movie theater when he was 19 and she was 13 and the story about how they fooled my mom’s parents into believing he was only 16 is a bit of a legend. They married three weeks after my mom graduated high school and a week after her 18th birthday. They were blue collar, hard working do-anything-for-ya Southern folk.
For three years after his death my mama scraped, scrambled and prayed to piece our life together. Sometimes she succeeded and sometimes she fumbled and as an adult I can see that and there is so much grace for that woman, my mama. She never could have guessed that she would lose her life so suddenly and leave my brother and I behind. She was a few days short of 44 and I was in the throws of tweendom having just turned 12
There are a million places in my story where I see God. A million different stones of remembrance that highlight the fact that not once in all the unexpected loss did He abandon me. No, in fact, along the way He was making sure that I could see Him. Even if it was liking trying to catch a glimpse of Aslan from around a Narnian hill.
In the midst of it all I never wanted anyone to pity me. I suppose that is why when my coach shrieked at the horror of “Little Orphan Annie” plastered across my forehead I just shook my head at the irony.
Somewhere, even in the dark of the whole story, I believed that God’s eyesight was better than my own. My favorite name for God is “El Roi” and it means “The God who sees” and I’ve clung to that truth when my eyes have been dim. My eyes to see the good in the hurt have all but been blind at times, but He has never once failed me.
That’s the thing. From the outside folks look at my story and they see disaster. They see worst case scenario. As a mama myself I can hardly take the thought of my sweet ones losing myself and their Daddy.
God has the inside track on hope. This world’s brokenness had broken hard on my life by the age of 12, but when God looked at me His pity on me was enough. His pity on my life that drove Him to fullest love and sacrifice was enough to cover all the hurt and busted places. He gave me hope. A hope that spans eternity and covers over my story
I still experience grief. It washes over me unexpectedly and I have to catch my breath while I watch my daughter spin circles around the room and realize that my mama isn’t here to see her grow. What I have learned is that grief and joy can live in the same soul. All the pieces of our broken stories can be pieced back together.
Hope sees with God’s eyes. Hope sees past the broken pieces to a place that life is made whole by a Father who never fails to gather every piece in the wake of hurt.
He never missed a single piece of my story.
What name or attribute of God can you share in the comments? Let’s see how many we get!