"Your life just seems so full of death and sadness."
Her words settled like an annoying fly that stays just out of reach when I swat at it but close enough to tell you all about the fine hair on my earlobe.
"I don't see it that way." I picked my words--and tone--carefully. "Yes, some days are hard, and some moments are really hard, but overall, I think our lives are awesome."
"Maybe I'm just not around you enough to see all the good stuff. We talk on the phone once in awhile, and I read your blog, so maybe I just don't see the good stuff."
Okay. THAT hit like a punch to the gut, BUT, maybe it was also the answer to my question I've been asking the Lord lately. "Why do people see us as so broken STILL? Why can't people see the good stuff?"
They aren't HERE to see the good stuff, and I don't talk about it enough, so, let me tell you.
What you do not see is The Girl Peep in the starring role of Willie Wonka or playing multiple roles and covering multiple responsibilities in Mulan. You do not see her as the head elf in The Reindeer Who Saved Christmas or the actress honored with the position of Second in Charge when the director misses rehearsal due to traffic. You don't see her learn all the lines, all the music, the entrances and exits, prop places, and so on or her ability to correct mistakes on stage, modify at a moment's notice, or improvise lines and actions when things do not go perfectly, nor do you hear the untold compliments the parents who work with her speak to me or the gushing reviews by the director or theatre staff. Most of you have not seen her walk on stage like she owns it and do it with grace and humility and a depth of character that not only makes me smile but also makes my eyes brim with proud tears.
You were not here when she went to her first political camp without her dad last year. You do not know how she pulled herself together after a meltdown, bravely walked into worship the last day when it had been too hard every other day, or found joy in running multiple election campaigns. You are not here now to see her prepare for this years camp. If you were, you would see her research the New Deal and government entitlement programs. You would be privy to the conversations debating the pros and cons as she identified and considered both the positive and negative results. You would hear that she considers far more than the essays written by the scholars, that her pondering includes biblical foundation, sociological studies, psychology of masses and individuals, the demographic trends, and the present day state of society that can be linked back to the programs of the New Deal. And you would see her doing more than deeming things good or bad. You would hear her ask how SHE can make the bad better. How can SHE be an impact?
When a person chooses to look at the world, see the things that don't work, and take responsibility for her role in making it better, THAT is life. THAT is choosing to step over the void and dare to dream something new.
Yeah. The Girl Peep is okay. If you were here, you would see that.
You would also see The Boy Peep designing entire worlds with Legos, creating stop action films, and receiving recognition from his peers. You would know he was even asked to help with a commercial for a local church. And you wouldn't be shocked to find he is also finding a place in theatre, behind the scenes with the technical group that makes so much look so good, and believe me, his excellence makes a lot look really good.
If you were here, you would know our trips to San Antonio and Missouri were wonderful. You would see the laughter of watching The Boy Peep build up energy on the hamster wheel and hear the shouts as each of us took turns trying to go vertical as the wheel turned us over and gravity pulled us down. If you had been with us, you would have seen the three of us, the science centers employee, and our friend Jason working at the water table for over an hour and a half as we built water ways, redirected water, and determined means to specific ends.
You would have joined us for our kayak lessons and been there when The Boy Peep and I saved the coconut from the lake during clean up and seen The Girl Peep handle the water all on her own. You would have been impressed to see how well she handles the kayak, and you might have been impressed--once you quit laughing--at how well she and I do rescue drills when one of us tips over and ends up in the water. We had a lot of practice with that.
You would have joined us when we made decorations, set up, and served food for anyone who needed a place on Thanksgiving Day, and you could have tucked in your own notes or homemade cookies for the Army unit we support in Afghanistan.
And, you could have sat with us and watched the sunrise from our camping spot on the bluff overlooking the lake early in the fall, in the same state park we camped with Rob and my mom last. You would have laughed at the In a Pickle game, witnessed the melancholy of being alone...and in the pride of braving it alone.
If you had been with us in the last two years, you would have seen me get my CERT certification and respond to a call out. You could have sat with me while I studied for my Emergency First Responder's certification and maybe been there in Galveston when the Marine Veteran needed a hand, the young couple was hit by the van, or the chest pains needed a transport. And you could have joined us when I volunteered for Special Olympics, and we had the best time watching great basketball. You would even know that I've found I like throwing darts and I'm pretty good.
You could have even proofed the articles I sent in that are still being considered for publication or been excited when the two books I've been published in arrived and we saw my name on the page.
You could see the beans, peas, and cucumbers coming up or sit on the nicely fixed sitting area or even check out the tiny tomato already growing on the vine.
Mostly, you would hear us laughing, talking, making cookies, learning new things, pushing ourselves into new territory, and living.
But you weren't here, and I didn't tell you. I didn't mean to leave you out. It wasn't personal.
No, that isn't true. It was personal.
All of the things I've just told you are deeply personal to us. They are treasures, beautiful and wondrous, and for awhile I tried to tell people the good things, and the response left me confused...and dreary.
When people asked how we are, if I said it was bad day, they understood. They were totally okay with that, but if I said it was a good day, they asked why, like I had to justify it, or when they did agree it was good, it was never as good to them as it was to us. So instead of losing some of the "amazing", I simply didn't tell. The bad thing with that is it trapped the kids and myself into mediocre or even dark thinking. We stayed low key instead of risking explaining why we had the audacity to be happy. It also gave people around us false views of our reality. They only saw the struggle and the pain, and that was good in that others who are struggling or are in pain have found a safe place to share their hearts. I love that.
However, my goal is not to simply show what we have survived but to show the life being created in us as a family and as individuals.
I won't tell you everything is fine. I won't tell you some days aren't challenging. What I will tell you is that there is a Voice in the void, and He is creating something amazing. Not perfect, but amazing.
And I hope now you can clearly see that.