At 5:17, when I climbed down the steps to the sidewalk, I felt off-kilter. Like something wasn’t quite right. The usual light coming from the usual house across the usual street was out. And the car was gone.
I made my usual laps around the library, but never found my groove.
I wrote the usual words across my mind, but never landed anywhere.
And at 5:48, I crossed that same usual street and climbed back up the stairs and into the house,
Oblivious to the day that was unfolding.
I’ve lived here on Avent long enough to know that some days are made for porch swinging and rounds of kick ball in the yard and for spitting sunflower seeds into the grass. They’re made for ice cream cones and sticky faces and long, hard pushes on the horse swing that hangs in the front yard. They’re made for piling up on the porch and laughing at our versions of the NaeNae.
I’ve also lived here long enough to know that some days are made for curling up under quilts and crying and letting grief have her way. They’re made for shutting the blinds and closing out the world and giving space for sadness.
And I’ve lived here long enough to know that every day is made for battle.
I just forget to suit up when everyone is playing nice in the sandbox.
And I almost always forget to pick up my sword.
Who needs a sword when the earth is pushing up roses and the yard is bursting with laughter?
Yesterday, was a day where everyone stopped playing nice in the sandbox.
Five of our boys decided to be vandals and terrorize one family while ripping off another family and by 9 last night, the whole neighborhood had been turned upside down by one another and the police.
And by 10, I had a thousand words I wanted to write here.
I wanted to retract my words about not killing the trash and bending low and serving like Jesus.
I wanted to feel every ounce of ugly resting in my bones.
I wanted to wield my words like a sword and strike down those boys who have taken my kindness and spit on it.
And I wanted to shake my fist at Jesus for a good long while: I’ve been doing the stuff and giving all the things and You said that kindness leads to repentance and that love always wins. I did xyz and it has summed up to 2 kids in juvie and 3 in serious trouble and this isn’t working.
But instead of doing all the mean things I wanted to do, I drove around downtown, up and down all the streets nobody has any business driving up and down late at night. I played music loud enough to rattle the car and I let my anger rest. I drove slow enough to see people on their porches and I forced myself to look at them, to take in what little I could see in the dark. I made up stories for them because that’s what I do. It opens my eyes and cracks open my hard heart.
And I let my whole self simmer in that space between my anger and Jesus’ whisper to trust him with what he’s about in my neighborhood.
This morning, I skipped my run for an extra hour of sleep.
I turned open the blinds as the sun was coming up over the street and yesterday’s anger paled in the stream of light.
I felt it.
I went through the motions of bible reading and morning pages and in that stream of light and the babies playing on the floor, these thoughts fell out:
Maybe we’re really just meant to work at learning how to love.
Maybe doing the stuff and giving the things is producing something inside of me and something in those boys that I’ll never see.
And maybe Jesus’ right to all the wrong here looks different than my right.
Maybe His right, His loving-kindness, is allowing those boys to go to juvie for a season.
Maybe His right, His mercy, is allowing those kids to be taken from their homes and given a fresh start in a new place.
Maybe His right, His peace, is an empty, dark house across the street.
And maybe His right, His grace, is this life here being the tie that binds my ever wandering heart to His.