God is all about those meanwhiles

“They screamed as if they were being murdered,” Dave said. “I thought Lou just had soap in her eyes, but I went in there and Violet had climbed out of the tub and was screaming, dripping wet on the rug — like SCR-eeaming,” Dave did jazz hands: crazy-town screaming, then, “and Lou was backed up way back, as far back as she could in the bathtub.”

I could picture this: I could hear it, almost. Staying at home with them has taught me the depths of the girls’ lung power.

“And Lou points to a tiny spider under the soap ledge. And she goes, ‘Dad, he went like this,'” Dave loses it here, laughs and imitates her, curling her index finger in a “come hither” motion. “‘The spider, he went like dis,'” Dave mimicked, bent over laughing.

++++

“Erin, look. These are your kids,” God says through moments like that. I used to pay my brothers in nickels to kill centipedes that’d crawl out of the drains in our bathroom growing up. I know from whence they get those lungs, oh yes, I do.

God’s pretty obvious about pointing out that He wanted me as a mother: He had some things to show me, He had some ideas about how to grow me, even. He gave me these kids to remind myself how much these people who can barely function without adult intervention are really just me in miniature. I, too, cannot survive long without divine intervention.

The parent-child // God-me allegory breaks down when I think about early March, cyclical depression, and all the meanwhiles we live. I’m horrible at meanwhiles, and God wrote a whole book that emphasizes it. He’s big on meanwhile: God created everything and called it good; it went bad. Meanwhile, He had a plan. He sent Jesus, who rose from the dead. He’ll come back, too, and meanwhile, we wait. Meanwhile, we’re being rescued. Meanwhile, we have everything we need, because God’s still here, meanwhile.

I’d prefer a now sort of scenario, but I wasn’t asked.

Taken apart, God’s abundantly faithful in covering the entire spectrum of our lives here with a meanwhile of grace, and that even includes the long meanwhiles, the Februarys and Marches. This season of slow-thaw (or not-yet-thaw) is so slow as to feel mired, stuck. We’ve decided to stop homeschooling, but we’ve ten more weeks of bookwork. We’re talking about moving to the city — meanwhile, we must continue to wash the windows on the patio doors of this rental house.

In between the move and the first day of school are many long afternoons together. I’d love to rush into the next step: the sidewalks, the streetlamps, the new bird feeder in the new back yard, lunch boxes and backpacks. But God is more patient, more deliberate. We woke Sunday, March 1, to the same white landscape. Tuesday, it snowed and iced; Saturday it’ll be forty degrees, and in between ice and forty degrees I’ll have made sixteen breakfasts and sixteen lunches, four pots of tea, and two graham-cracker-and-frosting sandwiches, the latter after 8 p.m.

God is faithful, though. A friend used that line this week with me to promise me spring would, indeed, come. I know this, but an academic knowing doesn’t cheerfully do the dishes or find a pair of mittens. You know what does? Knowing God’s faithful; knowing He’s woven me into community this year. I’m not great at it; I don’t like finding mittens, but I know soon I’ll put them away.

God is faithful: I want to breathe that, and God’s provided a mechanism where I’m forced to know it in my gut. Because the book my friend and I are writing touches on a lot of themes I’ve been exploring for the last two or three years, I’ve been using my journal, this amazing yet spottily recorded litany of ebenezers, to witness God showing up again and again to move us forward in some of these areas: community, church, friendships, and parenting.

I go searching for quotes from authors I’ve scribbled in the margins, and I come out with a picture of all the cold months God’s spent with me so far. How many meanwhiles He’s seen me through already, which all blossom eventually. I’m annoyed that I require a written record, but I suppose that’s just me being human.

And, let’s be real: how many of my ramblings in those journals actually sound more like Louisa in the bathtub than Erin in her thirties? Ah yes. Yes, God. Got it. I think I may have even written, once, that my student loan was doing dit, with a curled index finger. Ooh, the silly, irrational fears.

Dallas Willard writes that God’s more joyful than we can hardly imagine, and if it’s true, and I suspect it is, God must pat my head in those moments, then close the door and laugh with the angels in much the same way Dave and I do, with our hearts beating warm for these crazy kids we can’t escape from and pray so hard for. There’s something to that …

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