blogging my way through the everyday

Let the Little Children… Not Number Our Days

So I’m sitting outside the other day with Loco and one of the neighbour girls who often comes over to visit, and she turns to me and asks, “Can I have your dog when you die?”

Ah, I’m thinking to myself, the innocence of children. She thinks my little Loco (who’s already nearly ten in people years—making her eligible for Old Age Security in dog years, if they actually paid it out to dogs [I’ll have to write a letter to Peta]) is going to outlive me.

“Oh,” I say, “Loco’s ten years old.” But she keeps looking at me for an answer, so I continue, “She’ll most likely only live to be about 15.” She continues to look at me as I rock back and forth in my porch chair, feeling now like I should be knitting socks and pulling a shawl over my shoulders.

“Um, do I actually look to you like I’m going to die before that?”

She nods. And with childlike sincerity adds, “Yes… well, except for your hair.”

Definitely not getting the dog. And, although I did enjoy the rest of our time together (I have THE most darling neighbours), all I could think about was getting back inside so I could look in a mirror and scrutinize the latest attack the aging army had launched against me unawares. Should I have invested all that money in a good straightener when a set of curlers was more my speed?

Suddenly, how old I looked to the rest of the world mattered very much to me.

I have to admit, though, getting older isn’t the struggle I thought it was going to be—it’s those other areas of my life where people’s opinions have either validated or demeaned who I am; those areas set in stone, cemented into something sculpted by what others have said about or to me–and I find the Christian life is somewhat of a perplexing paradox at times.

We have within us an inner witness to the forgiveness, life and promises of our Creator—while outward circumstances bear down with such force they threaten to snuff it all out. And, if that isn’t bad enough, those looking on can threaten to annihilate us completely by their erroneous assessments—judging who we are by our situations.

True, we sometimes bring the storm on ourselves, and often we’re just reaping what we planted—but even then, when our hearts are repentant God is with us, and we must hold on to that truth without ever letting go, because that, alone, is our lifeline to getting through. We must learn to swim against the onslaught of opinion.

A man who’s fallen overboard and is floundering to keep his head above water in the middle of the ocean does not worry about how his hair looks as he clings to the lifesaver tossed out to him.  God is not concerned about how well we impress others as we ‘work out our salvation with fear and trembling;’ clinging to what His Word says about us as the umbilical cord keeping us securely connected to the womb of faith.

Joseph had to do it. So did Job. David did it, too. All of them looking pretty insignificant in the eyes of their contemporaries—suffering scorn and contempt. One thing they didn’t do, though, and that was listen to popular opinion, not even their own. They believed what God said about them; they chose the path less travelled—and that, like the famous poet said—made all the difference.

Feeling a little boxed in by other people’s opinions? Don’t give up, God has a lot to say about who we are…

even when the rest of the world has our days numbered.

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5 responses

  1. susan

    This is so timely for me. I also laughed at the comment the little girl made..”Except for your hair” To a child 30 is old. After I reached the age of 50, people stopped telling me how young I looked. My neighbor just came over and told me that next month she would be turning 70. I almost said “So, when did you turn old”.. Cept she’s not really old. She is young at heart and laughs at her wrinkles. I want to be like her when I’m 70. Thanks for your post Heather. I know that there was a lot more to it than the vanity of looks and I appreciate so much your blog.. ♥

    May 18, 2011 at 3:40 pm

  2. Thanks, Susan–I hope I’m lauging at my wrinkles when I’m 70, too (unless they’ve discovered a cure for them by then, of course). God bless ya, 🙂

    May 18, 2011 at 4:32 pm

  3. I started and deleted many comments before writing this simple one for you. “Wonderful, touching, thoughtful and humorous post.” But the subtext in your post is one that I have been struggling/wrestling/been found wanting with for several months now.

    I have to remind myself that it’s not up to me to do, say or be anything or anyone other than how I am led, and to follow as best I can, knowing that God takes up a LOT of my slack, and quite often makes something beautiful out of something far from it.

    I have a proposition for you – in terms of writing. When I can get some sleep and pull myself together, if you are interested, there might be something interesting we can do together. I’ll get in touch later. . .

    May 18, 2011 at 6:39 pm

  4. I can sooo relate! I loved seeing that little girl on the porch with you. They are so candid. 🙂

    I, often, find the Christian life a paradox too and I do suffer with validation issues. Thank-you for the graceful reminder that I can put those on the cross. 🙂 You are beautiful, as always, in what you say and feel.

    May 20, 2011 at 6:24 pm

  5. I just love this vision of your friend asking if she can have your dog when you die. The surprising thing to me is that, now in my 70’s, I suddenly find myself having unexpected episodes that make me realize that death may come upon me unexpectedly. It makes me give thought to my life and death possibilities. In the last 8 months I have also had two of my cats die of old age and our younger cat who adopted us is surprised to find himself now without feline companions. Life is unpredictable and I find myself more aware of that as each day goes by.

    June 10, 2011 at 9:36 am

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