Like a child. Children seem to know they’re special. They are proud of what they do. They tape the painting to the fridge and show it to the neighbors. They give you the crusty colored paper cards with the words spelled wrong. And they feel like they are generous. And they feel like they are special. And they feel like they are loved.
But they also ask for help. They ask openly, shamelessly. They cannot reach, they cannot count, they cannot spell, they cannot use…And somehow the needing doesn’t diminish from the being loved. Somehow the asking doesn’t take away from the knowing.
This is my family. I drew them in stick figures. Also there are hearts. This is my home. This is where I belong. These are the people who take care of me.
And the needing doesn’t subtract from the wholeness. We were not ashamed to be empty, once. But when I tried to come to you as a child I remembered the self assurance, the easy babbling to strangers as though the words mattered. I remembered being sure I was special Along the way I seem to have forgotten how to need you. I have shown you my scrawlings. I have tried to call them art. I have tried to be sure of it. But I haven’t found the words to ask you if you will sit beside me and help me with the hard parts.
Like a child. Like a child who has never been hurt. Like a child who trusts. Who hopes.
We’re not children. We’re not kids anymore. Our arms grew, and we could reach the top shelf. We learned to do it on our own. We didn’t want you to see until it was perfect. We used to see our work and think about how it was our best, that it was beautiful. It was joy, and we would like to see it that way again. The problem is that we ate from the damn tree and it doesn’t look beautiful the way it did. And we show it to you, and we are ashamed. We hide ourselves. We don’t want to talk about the things we can’t figure out.
You wanted my brokenness increase, because you needed me to see how lost I am. You gave me this law so I would see that I could never do it. You wanted me to learn to ask you. You wanted me to need you. I’m just afraid that, here at the very bottom, I will forget how to feel whole and safe in the midst of the needing. And when I try to protect myself, I will shut you out again.
Like a child. Like a child who believes that they will keep growing and learning. That every day they will draw a little better, until they are a famous artist. Who is going to be a professional athlete. Who is going to be completed. A child who still believes the best days are coming up. A child who can ask for help until they learn to do it. A child with so many things they can learn.
The vessels are earthen. But they are not fired. They are not brittle. Instead they are clay. They are shape-able. They can be crushed and still begin again. They have not been finished. It is the humility and the hope of believing that tomorrow I will be better than I am today.
And yet I’ve lived enough brutal days to doubt even that. To doubt my ability to keep improving. Because I’ve done everything I know to do.
Like a child, who believes he will be strong and brave one day because his daddy is strong. Because his daddy is big. Because his daddy will show him. Is showing him.
Can I be the way You are? Is that the hope I’m holding? The idea of it is enough to kill the pride. If I am to be like You, then I must be so far away. And yet the promise of the distance reminds me that we have time, You and I.
Do we have time?