We are all eyes to the ground.
To see those fragile tulips breaking through the surface.
To know that the earth never gave up.
Winter was long and cold, and we wondered if life would ever come.
“Come on little bulbs,” we whisper one long winter month after another. “We are waiting for you.”
“FINE,” she screams. “TAKE ALL MY TOYS AWAY. THROW IT ALL AWAY. LOCK ME UP ’TIL I DIE.”
The doors are slamming, and my husband and eye are blinking doe-eyed at the drama that flings itself in color and curls around our home. “I’m SORRRYYY.” It sounds like the right words but it’s not the right heart.
“Please no drama,” we say. I know the drama. I know I’ve done it recently. I know when I’ve been caught in my greatest moments of sin in the past, I resorted to drama first. Instead of being broken-hearted over my sin, I was broken-hearted over being caught and called out. And in an effort to draw the eyes of the beholder off of my beating mess, I flung myself into the dirt in hopes that the scene would be enough to distract the one who wanted repentance.
It never did work for me, either. I think of Micah 6:7-8: “Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams with ten thousands of rivers of oil?” I read this and snicker a little. Drama really is our first reaction sometimes. Humanity hasn’t changed that much. “Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
Repentance isn’t the same as drama. Over-indulgent acts of sacrifice are self-indulgent. It’s hard to be dramatic if you’re walking humbly with God. The ultimate sacrifice has already been paid on the cross. No amount of over-indulgence will ever match that. When kindness draws us, drama is not a sister-friend. Our repentance comes in the form of true hearts changed.
We are praying for the fruit of salvation in our daughter. It is completely out of my control. We plant the seeds, but we are at the mercy of the work of grace (just like every other day). But we believe that those who he calls, he justifies. So when we see her turn to the cross, turn to confession, turn to grace, we know the work is beginning. Slowly, like the earth coming alive after winter, like the three day wait by a silent tomb, life is breaking seal and stricture, pushing into the dark to root where all is still deep and quiet.
So we wait, eyes to the ground.
Two nights later, I’m called to her bedside.
“I have to confess something,” she says under the low hanging twinkle lights. I bend low, even though the carpet is itchy and I hate the feeling of it against my knees. We get uncomfortable for our kids. It’s been the plan all along.
“What is it, love?”
“No,” she pulls a blanket up over her head. I know you want to hide, I want to say. Confession makes us feel naked even with all of the weight of hiding on top of us. I know where she is, but I ask for her to show herself anyway. Coming face to face with the one you’re confessing to is important. I know it from the garden. I know it in my bones. Her six-year-old voice whimpers below the Anna and Elsa blanket. “You’ll be mad at me.”
I tell her, no of course not. If she wants to confess, I will listen. Without anger. Without judgement. I even promise that I will take a deep breath before I speak to show her that I’m not reacting; I’m responding. I don’t actually tell her that, but I do promise it to myself. I take a deep breath when she finally does speak.
Little words that seem simple to me, but big to her. Little sins that I know well. Things that don’t just send us running for cover before confessing, but when fully grown, bury us in the dark trenches of death.
We discuss what sin does to our hearts. How I’ve done the same thing as her. Even worse. She cries and asks again if I’m mad and if I can forgive her. How could I ever be mad with a broken-hearted confession? How can I shake a finger at her when I’m seeing the tiny broken earth around her heart shaded with green?
We whisper, “Come on little bulb,” to the shadows of her soul. “He will do it.” Where sin meant to bury us, and fear sends us running for cover, we see that new life will not be held back.
And we wait, eyes to the ground.