"...'Cause we belong together now, yeah
Forever united here somehow, yeah
You've got all of me
My life would suck without you..."
- Kelly Clarkson
It was one of those amazingly gorgeous October Saturdays. The sky was as blue as a robin's egg and the leaves were almost irridescent with color, and incandescent with light. We were all sitting on folding spectator chairs in a clearing surrounded by cornfields, watching hundreds of children competing in the Belleville Fall Invitational Soccer tournament. But each of us, had eyes only for "our girls."
The setting was really quite surreal. Mud-soaked soccer fields packed with young athletes dressed in primary colored uniforms. They were miniature warriors in shin-guards and matching long socks, the scent of drying cornhusks wafting across us on a cool breeze, and the sound of...well, actually, pop music blaring from speakers set up throughout the sports complex. But I was sitting with Vickie and her husband, Josh, so it was all good. With them, everything takes on a new lightness...a joy...which provided just the right environment for listening to these songs with "new ears."
Vickie's daughter, Jordan, is one of the goalies on Emma and Clara's team and I love to sit next to her as we watch our girls fly from back and forth across the field. Vickie makes me laugh...hard. She is one of the funniest women I have ever met. She has a GREAT laugh and a wonderful way of looking at the world. Her laughter diffuses the competitive tension of watching our daughters throw their all, and everything, into each second of every single moment of those 30 minute halves. I think I'd leave those games trembling from the sheer stress of watching even just one game that goes into overtimes and shootouts, much less two...if it weren't for Vickie's light-hearted good humor.
When Kelly Clarkson's "My Life Would Suck Without You" came on over the loudspeakers, my first thought was, "oh my gosh, how inappropriate, and what an imposition!" But as readers of this blog know, I am all about reclaiming lyrics for God. So I just sat with this song for a while waiting for God to show me how he was truly the only cause and creator of everything...even that song. And you know...He did (not for all of the lyrics in this song...but the chorus is all His now...for me). I realized, that in that moment, my life did not suck at all. It was a perfectly wonderful moment. I was sitting in the sunshine with my older daughter (who had just returned from South Africa) on one side and a friend who made me laugh on the other, watching our twins do what they love most. Does it get any better?
But I had to admit that it was this suggestion of life's suckiness, just what had been screaming at me for the entire drive to Belleville. I had been wallowing in the murcky waters of: It sucked that Jeff had to be in Boston instead of on the soccer field coaching the girls...something he loved doing. It sucked that the girls had four hours between games and had had to come back and forth (an hour each way) twice in one day. And on and on the suggestions spewed themselves all over my gorgeous fall day, like spilled coffee on a gorgeous watercolor painting.
That was when I started to love this Kelly Clarkson song. I happily realized, sitting there in the heavenly space of Vickie's laughter, Josh's all-around-good-guy-ness, Chris's laid-back good humor, and my daughter's company, that even though I missed my husband...alot, and I was still pretty doggone far from being, or having a life that was, humanly perfect, the only thing my life would really suck without, was (and is) God. And since I never, ever, think that His, God's, absence is a possibility, my prospects for a pretty sweet life are golden. In that moment, I was as sure of His presence in my life, as I was sure of my love for my daughters. In fact it is my love for my daughters that is always one of the most sure and irrefutable signs of Her, God's, presence in my life...and as my life. More than any other one thing I have ever known. And I know it in the deepest and most true part of my being.
Yes, but that was easy. God's presence as Motherhood is so intrinsic to how I see my own life actually being the moment by moment expression of divinity as humanity. But Saturday, it was remembering God's presence as Father that really broke the spell of human suck-iness. Mary Baker Eddy says that:
"As our ideas of Deity become more spiritual, we express them by objects more beautiful. ... Thus it is that our ideas of divinity form our models of humanity."
This statement has helped me realize that it is my concept of God as Father, that has most transformed the way I see myself as a daughter, a woman, a wife, a mother, a friend, a global neighbor.
As a child I attributed every "I can't", "I will never be...", "I am just not worthy of..." as truth, all because I didn't have "my own" father in my life. I lived in an almost, but never quite, fairytale space where I had a wonderful mother who loved me and a stepfather who took good care of me, but I would never really be all I could be...a special someone, a princess, a prized daughter, a successful woman...because my birthfather had chosen to disengage from my life when I was just a little girl. I would always be a step-something, second best, tolerable, the one to be "okay with" having around, but never the precious one, the first choice, the beloved. Not that my dad (my stepdad) treated me that way...I just always thought it was the way it must have been for him, in light of all I'd seen about step-parents in Disney movies, which I now know to be completely untrue. I am a step-parent myself today, and I love all of our children equally. And my husband has taught me, through his love and devotion to my children, that love knows no biological hierarchy, is not validated by time, and cannot be interrupted by distance or strengthened by proximity.
But this is a hard won perspective, as a child and young woman, I harbored fantasies in which a white-night father figure would swoop in and tell me I actually was his princess (it never mattered to me that there were a million other princesses whose fathers were their kings, I just wanted to be somebody's princess) and he had a kingdom waiting for me to feel special in. "If only..." plagued my sense of myself...my strengths, my opportunitites and my options for many years.
It wasn't until I was in my late thirties that I discovered, that I did, in fact, have a wonderful, attentive, caring, affectionate, adoring Father who was real, knowable, present, and involved in my life. God. God became for me, what He had always been...my one and only Father. My real daddy. My Abba. My papa. My King.
So last Saturday, as I sat there in the sweetness of laughter, friendship, sunshine and motherhood, all of this flooded my heart and I couldn't help but sing along, "My life would suck without You!!!"
And it would.
Without my Father, God, I would not have the confidence to try new things without fear of failing. That would suck.
Without Him I would not have been able to survive my daughter traveling around the world to South Africa, to live for three years, with no promise of her ever returning.
Without Him I would not be able to sleep peacefully on those nights when Emma and Clara are not upstairs in their beds, but four miles away in their beds at their dad's house.
Without Him I would never be able to do what I love...taking calls or appointments from patients and clients seeking spiritual care...with confidence in His ability, not mine to bring them answers, healing, comfort, and peace. I am only there to remind them of His presence in their lives too.
Without Him I would never be able to sit on the sidelines watching my daughters compete in a contact sport...without fear.
Without Him I would never have been able to watch campers go on three-day overnights where they would climb 14,000 foot mountains, raft raging rivers, mountain bike across high country ridges, and ride horses above tree-line...and not experience one moment of worry or concern.
Without Him, I would not feel at peace with my husband, my best friend, living and working in a distant city...at peace only because we know that it was God who "called him according to His purpose" in serving our church whose stated mission is "to reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing."
Without You, dear Father, I would not be able to get up each morning and face a brand new day trusting in your love for your children, your forgiveness when we falter, your mercy when we fall, your tenderness in lifting us up, and often, your willingness to carry us in your strong arms.
And these are just the first few things that flew out of my fingers, across the keyboard and onto the screen within moments...and I know that there are an infinite number of ways that my life is peaceful, blessed, satisfied, joyful, trust-filled because of You.
Without you...my life would suck. I am so grateful I never have to live my life without You. I know I have a Father who will never leave me. I have a Father who, in the santuary of our relationship, has eyes only for me. We all do. We are all precious in His sight.
Thank you Papa.
your daughter...your princess,
Kate Robertson, CS
[photo credit: Hollister Thomas 2009]