I folded (most) of the laundry last night.
Somehow I managed to forget to put Bell’s socks away.
Tonight I walked past them, a handful of little socks rolled into pairs and lying together in a pile. My stomach was instantly punched. It still amazes me the littlest of things that catch and trigger the grief of divorce.
The other day I was in a coffee drive thru and the fact that TWO drinks came out the coffee shop window and into the driver’s side car window broke me. TWO drinks, I thought. That means there are TWO people in that car. Two adult people drinking coffee and talking and being coupley. And there I was, just a coffee drinking party of one.
And grocery stores. There is something about a couple walking alongside each other, grabbing hamburger buns and tossing them into their cart that kills me. It makes me want to turn and talk to my imaginary partner and say oh yes, do we need one pound of ham this week or just half a pound? Jimmy’s (the kid I’ve made up to be a part of the fake family I don’t have), well Jimmy’s really been growing. Teacher thinks he’s in the middle of a growth spurt!
It sucks. Even the sight of a full cart reminds me of their full house. I look down at my few items and it’s all such a physical reminder of loss and emptiness.
Of the infertility.
Of broken dreams and shattered stories.
But tonight those little itty bitty socks, bright colored and beautiful, they officially broke me.
For months after I filed when I didn’t have Bella and I’d miss her I’d try to pray for her. But I couldn’t. The pain of thinking about her missing me was enough to make me throw up. As soon as the thought of her came up, I’d quickly pray for someone else’s kids instead. I couldn’t pray for my own. Because I had failed. Because I didn’t know how to fix Bella’s broken world. Because I couldn’t cuddle her and soothe her heart’s aches and pains.
But then one day, I did it. I prayed. I faced north towards where she slept and held space for her and my ex. Extending my hands as if to bless them both, I created a special spot for both of them. I sent every good thing in me their way.
As a kid I thought prayer was just ask, and in that I would receive exactly that which was asked for. How quickly we learn in our adult life that prayer is a whole lot more complicated. The timing, The answers. (If we can call them answers)
So I’ve been struggling. Why pray?
Except it started to bring me peace. Praying for her was a way to somehow hold Bella. And then I started to wonder more about prayer. I believe the gospel is good news NOW. I really do. His grace and mercy and freedom are right now. But also, I believe in a time and place where there is no weeping and mourning. I believe in a resurrected eternity. Somewhere. Somehow.
And so recently, I was thinking: OH MY GOD. What if each prayer was collected and gifted to Bell in heaven. Like what if she got to know just how MUCH I think of her and love her. What if one of the beautiful things of prayer is that all that we hope and wish and desire will be bottled up and gifted on the other side of glory. Like bottled love. Maybe it’ll be like a champagne bottle and explode when it’s opened. That would be so very perfect!
But prayer didn’t stop there for me. The past few weeks I started to wonder about every one. How prayer might be good news for EVERYone.
We’re called to pray for those who mistreat us. So let’s go THERE. What if prayer is a way of telling people who hurt us, or confuse us or who are reckless and selfish with our hearts, that it’s okay, I forgive you. Maybe, on the other side of glory, we’ll get a dinner together with those who have hurt us and we’ll talk about it. And what if we prayed for them now. What if we collected good thoughts and feelings toward them and then during our eternity-dinner we could pull the bottle out from under the tablecloth and surprise them. And two people would sit and share glasses of good things and it would be good. It would feel good and right and true.
And what about those things that break your heart. Trafficking, Homelessness, Hunger, Mental Illness, Eating Disorders, Self Harm. What if we pretended to put a face to that thing and prayed for specific people we haven't yet met. And then in Heaven we could find them.
I've decided I want a whole shelf full of love bottles to pass out. I’ll find someone in heaven and be like oh wait, YOU. I know you. I mean sort of. Don’t’ be freaked out. One sec. I’d motion with my hands for them to freeze and wait. And I’ll quick sneak into my little love bottle cellar and grab their bottle and quickly run back to them to pop the cork and let it all fly out at ‘em. They’ll be so happy. And I’ll be so happy. And there will be laughing and dancing. Maybe a couple of my bottles can have confetti. I'd like that.
Prayer is so much. It has been so much in my life. An inner world to explore and question and cry out and fight and sing praise. It’s been a place to hope and ask and know. But today, I see it as a gift. Prayer has become a certain kind of hope that emerged from deep within my soul. That when I feel helpless and hopeless, God has given me a way to love Bella. And prayer has become a future gift, for Bella. A gift for all my relationships. And for all those suffering.
Any of you reading this tonight. I’ve got a bottle with your name on it. And I can’t wait to find you on the other side of glory to pop it in your face!
JOY BUBBLES AND DELIGHT FOR ALL.