Friday, July 9, 2010

Songs in the Car

Yesterday was just one of those days that put me in one of those moods. The whole week has been unbearably hot and we have no air conditioner downstairs. Ethan's spent a lot of time turning fans and air conditioners on and off. I haven't gotten any kind of household chores done and yesterday spent forever in the car, traffic, humidity, going from appointment to appointment, dropping off Anna and picking her up again, feeling Ethan pull my arm half out of its socket as he tried to run from my grasp in McDonalds, the art studio, the parking lot.

At home as the sweat poured off me I tried to get Ethan to play. Sometimes I feel as if I am always trying to get Ethan to play. Sometimes I listen too closely to the little voice that bubbles over with frustration rather than compassion, wondering why play has to be so hard for him. In those moments the grace falls completely off me and engaging him becomes even harder.

"Do you want to do a puzzle, Ethan?" I asked, as he ran to another fan. "What about a book?" Dan was blissfully playing a video game and Anna was watching. Ethan had been but decided other things were more important. "The sink is done," I told him for what seemed like the millionth time in the bathroom. Then he went looking for the garage door opener.

I just wish he'd dump out his toy box and sit there and play, I thought. Then my frustration boiled over into tears as he went goofing off with the fan again.

"What's wrong?" asked Dan.

"I just want him to play with us!" I wailed. Of course, Ethan does play. When the house isn't sweltering or the TV blaring and lots of activity around, Ethan has an easier time. Often with puzzle-type games or musical toys. Sometimes other toys, although with any of the imaginary play type toys, it's very much repetitive or learned rather than imaginary play. He plays with his therapists. He loves playgrounds. Of course I meant I wish he'd play without all of this work on my part. Play appropriately, whatever that means. Play and learn.

"He does play sometimes," Dan said slowly and softly. "But...that's not Ethan." I am so often amazed at his even-handedness, Dan's willingness to accept what is because, as he said to me later last night, what other choice do we have?

When I'm in a mood, I'm impossible to be around. I knew I needed another one of my drives once the kids went to bed or I'd just sit around the house spewing and thinking toxic things. So out I went into the cool of the evening, asking God to show me something, so mad at everything and especially myself. Mad for not just loving Ethan rather than trying to fix him. Mad for crying in front of Anna, worried I was scarring her permanently. Mad that I was mad rather than accepting the grace available to me. Wondering why sometimes that grace is so hard to find when it's really not supposed to be.

God talks to me in rather strange ways. While vacuuming and gardening, for instance. And when I'm on one of my drives in the car, God speaks through songs on the radio and signs and bumper stickers. Go figure. So there I was, driving past cornfields and tobacco barns, asking God for something. He's not always neat and tidy. Sometimes I ask and hear nothing. But more often than not something happens and I know it's Him, even when I'm flipping through the channels on my XM radio.

On the 90's station, an old song from Oasis, "Wonderwall," came on. I'm a sucker for all of that nineties grungy stuff. The chorus is the type that stays in your mind: Maybe you're gonna be the one that saves me/you're gonna be the one that saves me/you're gonna be the one that saves me...

Over and over I heard those words, and I wondered: who is saving who? Do I think I have to "save" Ethan? Am I living as if it's all up to me, when maybe the tables are actually turned, and he's the one who's supposed to save me from so many ugly parts about myself? Or is this the way I approach God, with a half-hearted, I'll-see-it-when-I-believe-it mindset? Maybe He's strong enough to deliver me from myself. But I'm not sure. Or I'm not ready to completely dive in and abandon myself to Him.

Just as the sun had set and it was really turning from dusk to dark I came across one of my very favorite songs by Jars of Clay, a song that had slipped my mind for awhile. As soon as I heard it, I knew it was for me. With the windows rolled down, I cranked up the music and sang my soul out. These are the words:

Give to the wind your fear
Hope and be undismayed
God hears your sighs and counts your tears
God will lift up, God will lift up, lift up your head

God will lift up your head
God will lift up your head
God will lift up your head
Lift up your head

Leave to His sovereign sway
To choose and to command
Then shall we wandering on His way
Know how wise and how strong
How wise and how strong
How strong is His hand
To life up your head

Through waves and clouds and storms
He gently clears the way
Wait because in His time, so shall this night
Soon end in joy, soon end in joy
Soon end in joy, soon end in joy
Soon end in joy, soon end in joy
Soon end in joy, soon end in joy

God will lift up your head
Soon end in joy

Nothing felt different, nothing had changed. And yet everything had. Today's a new day and no it hasn't been perfect. But I know I just need to keep singing. Keep living. Keep trying. Keep leaning.

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