Now, I'm not one for knowing street names and highway route numbers from memory. Those kind of things tend to get all jumbled about inside my mind. I'm all about landmarks. A PNC bank on the left? Check. A CVS? Check - Check. A row of bushes. I'll take even that. So after a year or so of driving back and forth to Watertown, I became an expert of things in between 07940 and 02477. My sister and her family have since moved to Michigan and weekend trips now entail a plane ride. So I have forgotten what a "longer" drive on the highway feels like.
Last Sunday, my parents and I set off for Martha's Vineyard before the sun had risen. In the early morning hours, as we sped past highway markers and each town introduced itself with a giant green exit sign, a reoccurring thought of mine appeared - yet again.
It has always amazed me, when I actually really truly think about the numbers - how many people there are on the earth - millions upon millions. All leading their own lives simultaneously ____
As we passed town after town, the fog that clung to the hills slowly lifted, and you could see people starting out their days. Each of them with different jobs and daily struggles, different hopes and aspirations for the future. What is amazing to think about is how God has created each and every one of us. And loves each and every one of us. All the millions upon millions. He knows the number of hairs on our heads. And when on one sinner repents as Luke 15 says, there is rejoicing in heaven. With all the people who inhabit this planet, God knows each one of us. He knit [us] together in [our] mothers' wombs.
At the same time that we consider the vast number of people living here, we are faced with life's brevity. With the millions of us on the planet, can the loss of one - change much? Anyone who has lost someone special in their lives knows the answer to the question. It can change everything. A few years back, one of my closest teaching friends, lost her husband suddenly, without warning. As a friend and I visited her, she spoke words I will never forget. "What makes this so hard, is that everyone's lives around me keep moving on." Like the highway markers, they become a blur at a certain speed - they continue, and don't stop. All she wanted was to be able to press pause - have all the motion stop around her.
Life is a gift we have been given. Our lives are not our own - we are here to be "God's hands and feet". With this gift, we must capture each opportunity we are given. And not take for granted anything - anyone - anywhere.
These children are of the age where, if they are potty trained, they still need help buttoning back up their pants and jean skirts and turning the sink on and off. They may even break into tears halfway into class - if a thought of mommy runs through through their minds*. They can't really carry more than three papers of artwork and are fascinated by any sparkly bracelets that adorn your wrists. They are not bound by the adult boundaries that we have set.
They will climb into your lap and hug you at random times
just because.. .
Sophia was one of the oldest girls in our art class this week. At age six, she slipped by the age limit of 3-5, with the understanding she would act as a "guardian" of sorts for her younger brother. (* above) Sophia is the definition of precocious. She is a 35 year old woman stuck in a 5 year old girl's body.
Yesterday she walked in with big black sunglasses on, a pink purse in hand, 7 or 8 fluorescent colored bracelets on each arm and a bright colorful sun dress. "I am a new person today, the old Sophia is gone!" she quipped in a sassy new voice.
Needing to quickly get to bottom of this I responded, "Well, I quite liked the old Sophia. What happened?"
"People didn't like me at school."
I certainly knew this not to be true, as she was the center of attention at Creative Kids. Her voice could be heard above the rest - Always helping out and making others laugh. This was not a girl in need of friends.
"I like you and I know Miss Lisa, Miss Caroline, Mommy and Daddy like you!"
"Hannah Montana had a secret identity, so I was thinking..." -- AHha!
It's all about that blonde-haired, brunette haired, can't decide the dye for the day Montana - the cause of all undecided little girl craziness.
Another young girl walked up to me moments later and asked, "What is she saying?" She could not understand Sophia's new cool girl talk. And with the honesty of only a child - she said,
"I don't like the new Sophia!"
It starts so young but we do it in our adult lives as well - don't we? I know I do. It's all that we hear on television and read in magazines. Some of my favorite trashy magazines - where you can see celebs - how they look and what they wear. It's all about bigger and better, fancier and cooler.
How silly is it when you sit down and think about it?
Faking who you really are doesn't give anyone pleasure. We are always left feeling as if we don't measure up. And in reality, we are hiding the true inner and outer beauty of what God has created in us. When we accept ourselves - all our strengths and weaknesses - however superficial or monumental they are - only then can we truly be happy. It is in Christ that we are new creation. We don't need secret identities. 2 Corinthians 5:17 reads, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
I smiled as I watched Sophia and her brother walking out, their arms overflowing with the artwork from the day. The sunglasses and bracelets were gone... and clutched in Christopher's small fist was the handle of the pink purse.
The kind you want to pull the cover up over your head, before you even fully open your eyes.
.. . One of those days.