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What If?

Woman Alone Jean Gerber Unsplash

I think they conspired.   Or else it was pure coincidence and they just happened to choose the same week.  That’s more likely – they’re often on similar wavelengths.  I’ve noticed that, over the years.  Whatever it was, the result for me was a solid blow to the solar plexus, to my heart, actually.

These kids.  Nineteen and seventeen, way before they should be.  Nineteen is tall and lean and totally readable, a third year engineering student with clear grey eyes and a heart as warm as the summer wind.  Seventeen is athletic and slender with a quiet, caring disposition.   I thought she may study law and fight for truth and justice, but she’s chosen physiotherapy with the hope of mission work someday.

And they both moved out in the same week.

Seventeen had to; her university is a couple of hours from home.  And nineteen is marrying his girl at the end of the year so naturally an opportunity for some shared housing with his mates should be grasped while it can.  Completely understandable, even encouraged.

But in the same week?

I coped of course, every mother does.  Socially, at least.  At home, I stood in the doorways of the empty bedrooms and I ached.  I wandered through the quiet house, trying to figure out what on earth had happened to nineteen years.  I washed small loads of clothing, half-filled the grocery trolley, tried to feel whole while I wrestled with the halfness.  I cried a little, then a lot.  I ached.  

I stood in the doorways of the empty bedrooms and I ached. I wandered through the quiet house, trying to figure out what on earth had happened to nineteen years.

‘We’ll just embrace the new normal,’ said my husband, with his trademark optimism. ‘You and me, free to go where we like when we like.  Make the most of it.’  He’s right, of course.  And I have been, just like the thousand thousand women before me.  After all, hasn’t it always been the dream that one day they’d feel the wind and set sail?  Isn’t that what we plan for?  Aren’t we, really, just equippers?

But the days I awaken with an extra song in my heart, the days they come home, I move mountains.  Diaries are rearranged, commitments rescheduled, work ignored.  I sit across the table and look at them, watching them talk and laugh and share pieces of their bright new lives.  I listen, I share, I support, I delight.  And I wonder how they got to be so wonderful.

Days later, soaking myself in a shaft of sunlight as it slants across the bedroom carpet, Bible open on my lap, I am struck by a thought.  God is a parent, just like me.  And He loves, so much deeper and longer and higher and wider than I do.  So maybe, just maybe, I can apply the Parent Principle.  The one that sits across the table and soaks in the child, the love-in-your-eyes gaze that can’t tear itself away from the object so beloved, the one that moves mountains, rearranges diaries, reschedules commitments, stops at nothing.  Just to spend some time.

What if it’s like that?  What if my God feels the same?  What if my feelings are a poor shadow of the Real Thing?  Surely my reasoning is not too outrageous – after all, I must get it from somewhere.  What if my Parent aches to spend time with me, and then when I finally slow down and sit with Him in the sun, He does just what I do?  What if He gazes, listens, soaks, delights?

What if my Creator loves like that?  What if He longs like I do?  For me? 

If He does, it changes everything.  No longer is my daily quiet time a box to be ticked or another job at the end of a long and tiring day.  Instead I can sit in my shaft of sunlight, and soak and gaze and listen and share and delight.

With the King of Kings, the Mighty Creator, the Alpha and the Omega, the Great I Am.

With my Parent.

With my Father.


Penelope McCowen loves dark chocolate, fairy lights, frangipanis and the power of words well used.  She and her husband divide their time between their farm in northern NSW and a small business in Toowoomba.  Her first and only novel so far, ‘Heidi’s October’, was published in 2010. 

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