Who knew I would speak with not one, but two of my children, between the ages of 3-14, this week about their future spouses, their future lives. I found in my boys a longing to know their place in this world. How surprised I was to come across their tiny but true nonetheless, ache. I perceived in them, ache. They are aching for their wholeness, and so am I.
I didn’t recognize it at first, one of my boys and I were just talking through a hard time he was having and then just like that, it lit up: the truth wasn’t the pain, the pain was pointing to the truth! What he needed was hope for the future and vision to wait for it. Wow. You too?!
That was the older boy, but then a younger one came too, and you know, no big deal, it was only 5:30 in the morning and he just wanted to snuggle up with me in bed and talk about his future wife. Totally to be expected right? He just wanted to talk about how much he would love her and how he wondered if she would love him back as much as he loved her. He was also thinking he could save some of his toys to share with her and their kids one day, and me, he wanted to bring me along too, because he thinks he’ll miss me.
Oh my heart. Watching these kids reach for their place, love their “now” so much that they wonder how to bring it with them and not leave joy behind—all while they stretch for the joy they perceive is ahead—is astonishing. Why am I surprised to see them ache with the same longing I feel in my own bones? We all want wholeness and when you live awake there’s nothing to do but stare right at the truth: we’re not.
But we are. But we’re not. But we can be or will be? Or is it hope? Is hope really so real, so tangible that it stands in the place of actuality, with plump roundness that I can grab hold of? Because it feels like it. I feel like I can hold hope, that invisible realness, and I feel like I can give hope.
Hope, faith, like Abraham, “he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”* All these people, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David and all the prophets “living by faith when they died. They didn’t receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance”*, persuaded of them, they embraced them “and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth…longing for a better country.”*
I’ll never forget a friend of mine calling on the phone one day and saying, “I just wish someone would have told me how much it would hurt.” Hurt to love? Hurt to hope? Yes. Would we have stopped if they did?
Will we tell our kids that the thirst never goes away? How do we tell them that and at the same time tell them how wonderfully it is filled? Because both are true, it’s just in the filling we are driven to look for more, more of God and His city that we know is our truest home. We find pieces of it in our pilgrimage, in our tents, when we take a moment to look up at the stars. We see glimpses in our sleep, in our dreams, and in our living: like when little boys come and snuggle up in bed with you at 5:30 in the morning and talk about sharing their toys with their future wives.
What are we going to tell them? What are we telling them? What story are they reading through our lives? It’s OK if it’s a story of ache, as long as that’s not where it ends. The good news is even when our own story is falling short, there’s another written already that we can embrace with hope and that’s all it takes to teach the children how to embrace it too. They’ll reach for it if we do.
Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! —Hebrews 12:1-3
I like this season of advent imagining Jesus as a little boy once too, wondering about the longings he felt. It makes me feel safe. He gets it, He gets us. We can ache and even struggle hard in our aching; we can read the story of His life and be pointed from the pain to the truth. He lived with the ache with joy, joy set before Him. That just makes my day, I hope it makes yours too.
Oh hey guys! I’m Raynna. I believe in wholeness. I’ve often wondered if the ache I felt meant something was wrong, or had something to do with my circumstances, especially when circumstances were less than ideal. C.S. Lewis wrote “It was when I was happiest that I longed most…The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing…to find the place where all the beauty came from.” The longing isn’t going to leave, but we will one day. Let’s live. Subcribe to my newsletter here.
*pieces from Hebrews 11