Here's where I was:
The best epiphanies just rise up out of the mundane and surprise you with brightness and a sort of holiness that exudes mystery. One just caught me and left me weeping, incapable of anything but a mantra of 'thank you, Jesus...thank you, Jesus...thank you, Jesus...'David was only six then. Today he is ten years old.
Watching through the window as my boys waited for the arrival of the school bus, I saw David kicking gravel from the driveway into the street. His little 6-year old leg swung hard, heaved towards the rocks and shot a chunk or two across the street to the neighbor's ditch. He'd kick, glance both ways, then run across to fetch the rock and kick again. Sometimes, as he ran back, he'd spin around, or jump, or fling his arms up into the air. Typical child-like play, swinging at the wind, making fun out of simple things.
And it broke me, his spinning and jumping and leaping, coupled with his prayer last night that he would have four legs so that he could run around the track at school as fast as Philip. He smiled and carefully explained to me how he could use two legs until they got tired, then switch to his extra legs. This seems to him a real possibility.
Things like this were so common with my other kids - the innocence and joy of childhood that carried each one of them through those early years. It is unique with David, though, for he has experienced a different life. Where the girls and Daniel all had the fairytale 'happy childhood' in their younger years, with two parents and little conflict, David got a different story. David's third year of life was in an atmosphere of arguments and conflict, shouting and frustration, the television as a lousy substitute for parents who could not give the attention he needed, and, ultimately, a huge upheaval in his life. Separation, different houses, confusion and fear. David has lived a completely different life, and it has stained his soul.
It's been obvious to me, in this last year. The impact of our implosion and divorce was huge on David. He has struggled, and shied away from people and relationships. There has been no awe in him, no anticipation of the love and happiness and possibility of life. A huge uncertainty has characterized his personality, and it has stymied and saddened me.
Lately, though, I have seen a beautiful thing...hints of joy within him. He is smiling and laughing more, and imagining a greater world than what exists. Hope has returned to my child, I think, on the wings of angels who invite him to play and run faster and in the constant, gentle hand of Jesus, who has never stopped inviting him to kick rocks and play with Him.
Last night he and his two best buddies performed an original rap about their school; they were next-to-last in a long line of elementary school stars in a three-hour "Rockin' With the Stars" celebration.
This little boy, who just four years ago was bearing the heavy burden of a situation he never asked for; he has grown and matured and is now blossoming into a strong, confident kid who enjoys life. He can identify his passions (art, beat boxing, music, his best buddies).
Give the credit where it's due: lots of grace, a steadfast commitment to the family by his grandparents, his siblings, his dad's investment in his life over the past year, an incredible extended family via Powhatan Community Church, a big sister who adores and encourages him, excellent teachers in the Powhatan school system, an amazing, gift-from-God stepmother, a step-father who will spend serious time with him...on and on and on....
It is the life we have created.
Two things I am thinking in this post, which has meandered a completely different direction than I intended: First of all, don't let anybody tell you that kids don't suffer through a divorce. That is nonsense and foolish. Divorce hurts kids; it wounds and scars and it hurts. Yes, kids are resilient. Yes, they get through it. But they are changed, marked for life.
Secondly, in spite of all that, grace abounds. There is great value in believing the best about people, in surrounding yourself with community that cares and does its best to know you, love you, and simply be with you through the ups and downs. I have found the best of that in the church I attend. I floated into PCC six years ago a broken mess. I cried for six months, alone in the seats, wondering how I would ever get my life back together again.
Flash forward to today and I am now working full-time for that same church, investing my life in the place that handed me a rope when I was sinking. It's tethered tightly to God, and it has rescued and sustained me. Time and grace have brought healing to me.
And David, as well.
Grateful for the past, ready for the future. It is a good day today.
Tripp, David and Bryce during their debut as "The Flat Rockers".