I loved spending this Thanksgiving week with you. At two and a half years old your joy and passion for life bring me so much joy and teach me so much. Just this morning I heard you waking up in your room, calling for your mom who was still asleep. When I walked in, I expected a somewhat groggy toddler, sad that it was not actually “Mommy” who responded to your cries. Instead I suddenly saw this beautiful, smiley face (with some typical Maddie bed-head) pop up above the railing and declare boldly:
“Aunt Bekah! Look! The sun came up today! It’s a lovely day!”
You have astounded me with your joy this week. You remind me to be thankful for the little things, like a friend coming over, the sun outside, a bowl of mac-n-cheese, or a Mickey Mouse Christmas tree ornament. You feel so deeply every little thing.
I see also in you that these honest feelings aren’t always fun. Your pure joy at the simple fact that the sun is shining took a drastic turn one evening when it took us an extra 20 minutes to get out the door to go somewhere because you were sobbing (real, giant tears) because “the sun went away”! I love this about you, too. You’re not ashamed to feel what you feel. While I pray you never lose the ability to feel things deeply and honestly, unfortunately I fear as you grow up that will change. Whether literally or metaphorically, I think some day the fear that “the sun may go down” may keep you from rejoicing in its rising in the morning.
As we grow into adults we fear risking loving the people around us because we have been hurt when we’ve loved in the past. We don’t let ourselves hope in anything because “what if we’re let down again?!?” We don’t trust anyone or even God because our trust has been broken. We don’t let joy in because we also know that feeling anything allows for the potential to feel hurt.
People will disappoint you, Maddie, and you may not always get what you want. At some point in your life it will feel safer to shut out difficult people or situations, refusing to trust and never getting your hopes up. But Maddie, I pray you have strength to fight against the fear and keep feeling deeply. While it seems safer, it also keeps us from feeling the joy that I see you experience so fully right now.
Here’s how an author, Katie David Majors put it in an a book I read recently called “Daring to Hope”:
“…the world would teach us that pain is what ruins us. We are trained and conditioned to run from pain at all costs. … Only the supernatural working of the Holy Spirit can override this fear of pain with a love that is greater. The world would teach us that once we are broken, we cannot be used, we cannot be strong, we cannot be happy. But this is not true. In the greatest miracle of all time, our Father resurrects His son Jesus out of the dark tomb and conquers death. After the brutal beating and scourging and mocking that is a direct result of the ugliness of my sin, Jesus whispers, “Father, forgive them.” And He does. Out of the black of the tomb, new Life emerges and new Light shines forth.” (pg 61)
Maddie, our God is in the business of making beautiful things come out of brokenness. He longs for us to experience true love and with that comes risk. He risked that in giving us free will to be able to love Him and others. We messed that up and now live in the pain and consequences of our rebellion. But our God doesn’t change! He remains good! In Zephaniah we read that: “Each new day He does not fail” (Zeph 3:5). He sent Jesus to take all the brokenness, hurt, distrust, hopelessness and restore our hope again. He came. He died. He rose from the dead. He will come again.
Whenever you feel sad that the sun has gone down, or something hurts you, or you lose someone, go ahead and feel that sadness. Grieve. Hurt. Feel. But never lose hope, because the sun WILL rise again. Jesus will come again and He promises us this about that day:
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:3-5)
“And there will be no night there–no need for lamps or sun–for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 22:5)
Oh what a lovely day that will be, Maddie! So go ahead and get your hopes up, girl! Feel deeply. Celebrate life. And when the dark nights come, because they unfortunately will, remember, a day even more lovely than you can imagine will come and when that day does come, the light will never fade again!
Look Maddie! The sun is up! It’s a lovely day!