I am as certain of some things as I am about the lines on my face. But on most days, I have more questions than answers.
As I reach down to get the curling iron from underneath the bathroom sink, His voice wisps through my thoughts and slows my pace a little. Some people call it premonition or coincidence but I name it love.
This trip to the pediatrician with my daughter isn’t about a flu test or a curious sore throat. The last time I drove her to a doctor’s appointment, she didn’t have a license in her wallet yet. I hesitated about making the appointment. A mother knows her child’s quirks like the smell of sour milk. But her father insisted. So we went.
Sometimes the vacant space of a forced rest in a doctor’s office – on a train commute, seated in the airport terminal, during a road trip – is an altar for relationship; a place for the overflow of life to spill out and become a love offering. That is what he was saying.
“I can’t remember the last time you had strep,” I said from the chair in the corner, my voice bouncing off the sterile walls of the empty room. My daughter’s legs dangling over the edge of the exam table, paper crinkling underneath her seat. Smiling, she recounted that awful season in her childhood.
First grade. It was the year of recurring strep infections. So many of them her pediatrician threatened to remove tonsils if she got one more within a month. Two months passed; an embarrassment of riches. We laugh every time we remember. And sober about the reality we lived through as the memory comes closer to the forefront.
“I don’t think I have strep,” she admitted. “It’s not as painful as I remember it being during those years when I had them so often. But maybe my memory isn’t accurate.”
“I know. Sometimes our memory distorts reality. Like the time I visited my childhood neighborhood and realized the wealthy homes I envisioned as monstrously large were actually average.”
“Yeah, like that time at our church before we lived here and I got separated from you and Dad,” she went on. “All I remember is how huge the campus seemed and how all I saw when I was frantically trying to find you was a sea of legs, like a forest of huge tree trunks.”
“I don’t remember that,” I chuckled with my hand cupped over my mouth.
Laughter made breathing more difficult through her stuffy nose. “Of course you don’t remember, you weren’t the one living it,” she scoffed.
The nurse walked in and we composed ourselves.
Memory is a curious bedfellow, a distorted mirror of thinking when using it for a magnifying glass to discern the future.
The same way you can walk on a familiar bed of dewy moss beside a riverbank without realizing there are snakes curled up beneath it.
In the third week of January, the resolve of a new year can take a U-turn, back to a blaze of circumstance beating down on your slate with delight written all over it. Hope drips like sweat from your forehead and pools at your feet.
On the precipice of routine, unexpected interruptions wave us back to spontaneity, patting the couch cushions next to them. And while you might be tempted to wipe your good intentions off the chalkboard, I’m reminding you He uses permanent ink. His promises cannot be erased.
“Negative,” said the nurse as she peeked around the door frame. “All your tests are negative so you have a virus that must run its course.”
“I thought so,” I said nodding to my daughter.
After we climbed back in the car, she began coaching me, asking questions about a subject she knows I’m struggling to resolve. And clarity came in an instant with the answers out of my mouth.
“Mom, maybe I stayed home today to help you find the answer.”
“Yes, honey, maybe so.”
Let the past guide you, not predetermine the future. He makes all things new.
May his voice interrupt your distorted thinking with certainty, as clear as the lines on your face.