Sunday, November 4, 2012

you aint my neighbor no more.


"Ms. Shelly, you aint my neighbor no more!"


I still remember the way little-man's nose scrunched up when he looked at me, with all of his six-year-old wisdom, spit these words right out, and stomped away from my stoop with anger in his step. 

I had hurt his feelings, refused to give him something that he wanted.  He was really disappointed and angry at me.  In all of his mixed-up emotions, this was all he could say: You aint my neighbor no more.  And even though he could not actually change the fact that I live {and continue to live} just four row-houses away from him, his words felt overwhelmingly real and true to him at the time.  

He tried to stomp away, to make a statement I'd remember, maybe even feel guilty about.  I knew why I had said no; it was for his own good.  After he thought I wasn't looking anymore, his tiny, exhausted body slumped down onto the street curb.  It is exhausting to stay angry.  Within moments, his face fell into his lap and he began to sob uncontrollably, as if every emotion he had ever felt came rushing down his fragile, soft cheeks and into the trash-ridden street gutters at his feet. 

The disappointment swept over him.  The only place it could go was out.  As I watched him from my stoop, I thought to myself, I love little-man so much.  He has no idea how much joy he brings to my life.  I love being his neighbor.  I had to say no because it's what's best for him right now.  I wish he could see that. 

I have remembered this story time and time again over these past few weeks.  Somewhat like little-man was, right now I am in a season of deep questioning, grief, overwhelming disappointment, sadness and exhaustion.  And the tears come often. 

And dare I say it, I have {several times} during this process been tempted to shake my fist in the air and tell God, you aint my neighbor no more.  
The pain is too much.
How could you let this happen?
Can't you see how broken and empty we feel?
Where is our relief?

A few things come to mind as I try to figure out the "point" of sharing this story:

1.) I think the way that I felt after little-man yelled at me is probably the way God sees me as I struggle through these very heavy emotions.  He looks at me with love and stands firm that what He gives {and does not give} to me is for my own good.  I haven't been able to reconcile this in my heart quite yet as it pertains to the loss of our baby, but pray that someday when I think back to this part of our story, I will have the peace and courage to say something like this: The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised {Job 1:21}.  I have a long way to go. 

2.) Our emotions and feelings cannot change what is true.  In his anger, little-man made a proclamation that I was no longer his neighbor, even though I still lived down the street {and wasn't going anywhere!}  If I question God and even decide in my mind that He is X, Y or Z, that does not change who He is.  Even if I still feel that way {as I'm typing this very sentence}.  I have a long way to go. 

3.) God knows what it's like to lose a child.  As I question how God could allow something so beautiful and innocent to be created, just to let it die, I am reminded of the story of Jesus.  Jesus was someone's child.  Jesus lived a miraculous {but brief} life.   As death approached him, he called out to God, pleading for Him to take his suffering, spare him from the pain of the Cross.  Do I think it pleased God to see Jesus hurting?  Absolutely not.  But it was apparently what was best for the world, for a greater purpose.  Again, I trip and fall over these words as I consider what they mean in light of 'M,' but somehow they still bring comfort to me.  They make me feel less alone.  Even so, I know I have a long way to go.

I am thankful for reminders like these, from stories in my neighborhood, and from little six-year old neighbors {with scrunched-up angry noses} like little-man.