Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Mystery Injury

Once upon a time, but not that long ago...

I was cleaning up dishes to the tune of all kinds of boy-ish commotion in the basement. It was that borderline kind of commotion where after every slap-like noise I flinched and waited to hear someone bawling or pounding up the stairs.

Instead, the slaps and whaps were followed by silence, the kind induced by riotous laughter. I peeked down to see all three boys doubled over laughing. The couch was tipped over, draped in blankets and pillows, and Nerf dart shrapnel littered the floor.

I went back to my bubbly water…in the kitchen sink, that is. For a couple of minutes I heard a succession of strange noises followed by laughing and screams and doubled-over silence.

After one such silence they all three appeared in the kitchen looking bewildered.

There stood Zach with a bloody forehead. But more peculiar than the dripping blood was their demeanor.

No crying.
No accusing.
No denials.

Just plain old confusion.

Naturally I asked, “What happened?”

I leaned his head over the sink and waited for an answer, but no one, including Zach, could explain the head wound.  The usual suspects were innocent.

Didn’t know when.
Didn’t know what.
Didn’t know how.

Just saw the blood.

So I shook my head, cleaned him up, offered an icepack and said, “Maybe you guys should take a rest.”

How, I ask you, do you cut your head and not remember when, or how, or on what?

I called it a Mystery Injury.

This week I had my own Mystery Injury

I went for a walk around our gravel loop with the boys riding bikes in front of me. As they experimented with shifting gears and pedaling downhill, I recalled those rugged toddler years when I strolled those three boys in one stroller around that same loop. “The days are long but the years are short,” I reminded myself, and a little parental panic bore into my chest.

I had about 90 seconds to feel all sentimental when two of them flagrantly disregarded my instruction about riding on the highway—the one where pickups haul boats at 65mph and 18-wheelers carry everything from hay bales, to combines.

And somewhere between nostalgia and anger, I just started whimpering. You know when your inhale gets all chopped up by your quivering diaphragm? Weirdness.

Normally the first might make me smile and the second might make me yell, but neither usually produces tears.

Perhaps it was a toxic hormonal cocktail brewing inside me. One mental jolt by memories or disobedience knocked that bubbling concoction, and it spilled out my tear ducts.

When I arrived back at the house, I had “pulled it together,” but the bike riders detected the watery eyes. And I saw that same bewildered look.

Didn’t know when.
Didn’t know what.
Didn’t know how.

The usual suspects were innocent. But blood and tears are often proof that something hurts, and without a doubt, we could use a little rest.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Well, I didn’t get a nap that day, or a massage or a vacation.

But later that week I got the kind of rest where Christ extracts the panic from my chest. He assures me I am not solely responsible for every decision, good or bad, that my children make. His holiness reveals the mistakes made in the long days, but His grace calms the fright caused by short years and failure to do what I had hoped.

Perhaps the best rest is not a massage, or a pedicure, but instead a mind transformed by grace.