This morning we woke up to an incredible amount of pee.
Lifa walked out of his room naked, dazed and dripping. BUCKETS of pee. His first words of the morning: “Go look at my bed!”
AN OCEAN. Standing water. In his bed.
And by water, I mean pee. This is my real life.
So, like any responsible mom would do, I busted out the baby wipes and wiped that little boy down till he smelled just like a clean baby’s butt. Because we also woke up to a house with no running water.
As I pulled out wipe after wipe, I remembered all the moments and memories that were far more repulsive and inconvenient than this one. I remembered Lifa’s night terrors and going days without sleeping because he was afraid to. I remembered both of our tears while he learned safety and security the hard way. I remembered the disgusting journey of training his body to absorb nutrients – even the sideline details like having to teach him how to chew and swallow without worrying that someone was going to take his food away from him in the process.
Our story of resiliency, redemption and grace comes with a lot of body parts and malfunctions. It’s been messy, and it often smells real bad.
Today’s river of pee actually made way for a tidal wave of gratitude from the deepest places in me.
Look at how far we’ve come.
He has a bed. He has a house, a room, Spiderman sheets. He can come out naked, find his mom, and laugh about his uncomfortable, inconvenient mess. He knows it’s going to be ok.
I couldn’t help but think this morning about how overwhelmingly thankful I am to have an entire half of a house that smells like pee and some soaking wet spidey sheets.
If this is the biggest manifestation of all of the transitions and hardships Lifa’s seven years have taken him through, then that puddle of pee is the greatest reason to celebrate I’ve ever seen!
I don’t ever want to forget how far we’ve come. I don’t ever want to stop seeing the small victories along the way. Even when it looks like pee puddles.
Last week a woman sat in a churchyard and released her own buckets of body fluid. (I'm almost embarrassed that this is really a point of connection for me... please forgive my imagery and ridiculousness. I spend a lot of time with 7-year old boys.)
Tears streamed and soaked the bruised face of the mother who faithfully comes twice a week to cook for hundreds of children at our after-school program. She shared with a group of volunteers and staff at Ten Thousand Homes that she had been beaten all night in her one-room shack while her 11-year old son watched in horror.
Her night terrors are still alive and active.
Her long nights rage on.
There’s a long way to go before the celebrating starts.
But there are still puddles of proof that something is happening.
This weeping woman is the same mother who stayed locked in her own prison of shame for 8 years after her second-born son was stolen from her arms in the night. She never let a tear fall, and she told another person. She stayed strapped in the bondage of victimization and brokenness until just a few months ago.
I was there the day she opened up. My arms wrapped got to wrap around hers in the midst of that miracle moment.
Today, my arms feel tied and I’m wrestling with anger and disillusionment in the middle of this dark and lonely chapter in her life.
She did the right thing. She shared. She cried. She reached.
But they won’t reach back. Culturally, my reaching for her would only escalate the situation and create a more strained and dangerous environment for her and her child.
Why won’t the people and the church reach?
They don’t know there’s such a thing as a reach with open hands instead of closed fists.
They don’t know a touch that doesn’t scandalize, steal or shatter.
How can they reach if they’ve never been reached for? Where do we go from here? I still don’t know that answer.
So, on the same day I giggle over a new morning’s soaked Spiderman sheets, I cry for the lonely bruises in the darkest hour of the night. I am celebrating the puddles of proof on that little boy’s bed that there have been some hard years and some long nights.
A new morning has come and this new day’s problems only remind me of how far He’s brought us.
I have to remember that same truth for this mother and son also. Because there are puddles of progress and promise running down her face. That face was locked up like stone for years, and now it flows with tears that reach.
The dark nights aren’t over.
There will still be sheets to wash.
There will still be bruises to heal.
And when I don't know what to do, I’ll keep looking for proof that something is moving.
Someone is still making streams of grace that moves through the desert places.
The Kingdom came on a messy, dark night.
The Kingdom is coming on a bright new morning.
On that morning, Grace will no longer stream like messy puddles in the middle of a sullied story, but will reach with strong, scarred hands to wipe away those tears and to close the gap.
We celebrate sheets, and we celebrate the scars. But we don’t get used to them. We keep reaching, and we keep finding new puddles of grace to celebrate.