We happen to sit ourselves at the same table for Joelle’s baby shower, Jenn, Larissa and myself.
Jenn lost a beautiful baby boy many years ago. Now 46, she is a soccer player and a runner with a houseful of boisterous teenagers and a thriving career. Larissa is in her early thirties, pregnant with baby number two, working full time while loving fiercely and unapologetically on her disabled husband at home. And me, I’m approaching 60, grandma to 5, soon 6 littles, a writer weathered by life, still standing in amazing grace.
“Please enjoy the food and each other’s company. We’ll let Joelle open her gifts soon,” Hannah says. “And remember to fill out those papers with your best advice. Think about what you would want someone to say to you on your worst day as a mom.”
My mind goes back to how overwhelmed I felt with the laundry, and the meals, and the messes, and the driving, and the bickering back and forth when mine were little, but I am thinking of how easy that part was. Teenagehood with its deep emotions that breaks sensitive hearts, sickness that smells like death, questions that remain unanswered, that’s the hard part. That’s the part when I gladly wore my knees out in prayer.
“You don’t have to know it all,” I start writing. “Just take the first step. And then you will see what the next step is. And the next.” I smile to myself as I fill the entire sheet of paper, silently thanking God for the bliss ignorance of the aches that were to come while each one of mine was still anchored within my womb, safely hidden under my heart.
Curious, I peek at Jenn’s paper. She is crafting a letter about taking time to be and recharge. And I think about how wise she is. Not one of us can do those teenage years well unless we hide ourselves away every so often to keep our sanity, to remember who we are, and to braid ourselves with the One whose promises we hold on to.
Larissa writes about reading the heart of your child. Such insight in these words, and perfect coming from her, the one whom God has trained to read her husband day in and day out since the accident. Such wisdom hidden within that young, soft heart that has learned the balance of fighting back and yielding with grace.
Jenn’s age is lodged right in between Larissa’s and mine. She longs for the title of grandma, while yearning for the years that went by way too fast. Larissa, she doesn’t really have time to process time slipping by–she skillfully lives in the moment, knowing deep within that tomorrow is not guaranteed. And me, I look back while choosing to believe I still have lots of days, lots of opportunities to make my imprint of the souls of needy humans.
And here we sit, three women living a different slice of time, yet part of the same story.
And here we sit, three women learning the treasure of legacy.
Nineteen days until Joelle’s due date.
We watch as she begins to open her gifts and we revel in her simple joy.
Joelle is such a beautiful woman of God, already practiced in quickly turning to the Lord, already moving in motherhood with grace and power.
I look at Jenn and Larissa, marvelous examples to me of what God does when hearts lay bare before Him.
I look at all the women around me, and I watch them cheering Joelle on as she steps into her new season. They surround her like a wall that bears witness to God’s faithfulness.
This is a holy place.