I sat cross-legged on the wooden planks of our floor last September. A smile crept upon my face at the sound of the toilet flushing. Webb was learning, slowly and beautifully learning. The door sprang open and light spilled into the dark hallway. He bounced out of the bathroom, and looked left, then right to see me sitting, waiting, at the end of the hall. Our eyes met and he instantly shouted, “I did it, Mama!” I remember his feet, pounding on the floor to meet me. I remember how he jumped into my lap without warning, without request, pride glowing from his smile. I remember his skin, softly wrapped under my arms, his body folded, a return to fetal. And I remember wishing, searching for a new way to say what I felt deep in my bones, “I am so proud of you.”
I didn’t know that this would later become one of my most tender memories of Webb. I didn’t know that I would one day count it among my treasured. It was so small, so short, and so simple at the time. How could I have known that it was its simplicity that marked it sacredness? A boy learning a new skill; it happens all the time, every day. But it was never his mastery that rattled love around in my bones. It was never what or how he accomplished that sent pride shooting through my marrow. It was never what he did, but whose he was. And he was mine. In the ways that matter most to me now, it best explains my love for him. He was mine.
In the past months, I have wondered how God is feeling about my slow, clumsy trek to Him. How I have sat in church perplexed at all the thanksgiving, all the adoration. How I have listened to words of exultations spoken aloud and have instead wanted for someone to speak words of anger or doubt. How I have longed for songs of praise to be replaced with songs of lament. What would He say to me, who seems to be failing at mastering spiritual fervor?
Perhaps His gentle answer is found in my sweet memory. I feel the floor shake as Webb’s little feet run to pounce in my lap. I feel his body, folded and hidden in these arms that shelter with love and pride, for nothing that he has done, but for whose he is. And I think that I am a long way from looking at my God with the same beaming face of pride. And I am a long way from shouting, “I did it, Abba!” But I am learning, slowly and beautifully learning. I wonder if in His grace, He too waits with love, not because I have anything mastered, certainly not because I have become accomplished in faith. But perhaps His love flows simply and sacredly because He says, “I have called you by name; you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1).