Admittedly, I was a little bummed when I saw I was going to be sitting next to him on the plane.
He was big and burly with worn clothes and dirt in his nails. He looked tough. Like someone who had really lived some life. A person I would normally enjoy getting to know sans kid. But not now. Not with baby in tow.
Sure, he was smiling a wide-eyed grin when he saw Fisher and I take our seat, but there just didn’t seem to be anyway he would be a good match for 5’3 me and my active baby who was either going to spend his flight nursing or squirming.
“Man, does he know what he’s in for?” I thought to myself as I scouted out the rows around me to see if there were any open seats where I might be able to move to and nurse discreetly.
With perfect timing of my need for escape, Fisher reached out and grabbed for his water bottle.
Sorry, I begin. He’s kind of into everything right now. I will do my best to keep him over here. (I knew this was going to be next to impossible, but I tried to believe it could be true.)
“Don’t worry. I love kids, actually.
I have a son.
And I miss when he was that age.”
Me smiling with an uncertain smirk trying to decipher, “Is he just being nice or does he really mean that?”
Really, I mean it. Babies don’t bother me.
As he starts enticing Fisher with the water bottle.
Five minutes later, he has Fisher on his lap looking out the window. As the flight takes off, we switch back and I easily nurse Fisher to sleep.
Then he begins telling me about his son.
He pulls out his Iphone and shows me a picture.
He’s big like me. He’s only 16 but he’s probably gonna be 6’5″ the doctor says. Who knows, maybe even bigger.
He’s such a good kid too. He’s like my best friend. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I punish him and keep him in line. But I just love him so much. He’s so fun.
Then he just looks out the window beaming. Just smiling with pride. And laughing to himself. As if his love overflowed into his mouth.
Anyway, his mom and I aren’t together anymore. She always calls me when she has trouble with him. Because she’s always trying to get him to dress a certain way. Or be into certain things. And I have an easier time working with him.
I just let him be him. I try to tell her to do the same.
Oh yeah. He has Asberger’s. Have you heard of that?
Yes. Actually, I’m a therapist. So that’s right up my alley.
Oh. Okay. Well then you know they sometimes fixate on things. Sometimes things that are young for his age.
Instead of wearing the cool brands, he likes superhero shirts. And sometimes he likes to wear the same one over and over again.
And I always tell his mom, if it makes him happy and it’s not hurting anyone. Why should we care?
And one time one of my buddies was talking to him and he acknowledged him by saying, “Yes, sir.” But he didn’t look in his eyes.
And my buddy called him out on that. And I asked my friend to step outside. And I said. Listen. Eye contact isn’t easy for him. I’m impressed he responded so respectfully to you.
You see. People don’t always understand him. Sometimes they limit him. But I believe in him. I don’t limit him to anything. I find a different method to help him do something. And slowly. He learns to do it too.
I think I may have had a little of what he had too.
It’s even hard to look at you right now. But I’ve worked through it.
He sits quietly. Then smiles again. But man, he’s such a good kid.
And he begins beaming again with pride.
And as I watch him as he smiles, I can’t help but be overwhelmed by the sweetness and tenderness of the moment.
The blaring contrast of the physical strength and robustness of this giant dude speaking so softly and tenderly about his love for his son. A son that by the world’s standards is defected…
Well, it made an impact on me. And got me thinking a lot about imperfections. And love.
I don’t know about you. But I know that I have a lot of imperfections.
Nuances. Habits. Thoughts. Actions.
That at times are a little (a lot) crazy.
Maybe even weird.
Like the fact that before I got into the plane. I had almost gone through an entire package of disinfectant wipes on the hands and chairs and cups and seats of my children and myself.
To a neurotic point that my husband asked me to stop. And I said, “When you die of Ebola, you’ll wish you were neurotic.”
Or the fact that sometimes my anxiety makes me sick to my stomach and I may have to turn off a TV show because the main character gets convicted of manslaughter for killing someone with their car and I begin to worry that if that were to happen to me, I might have to go to prison, and how would I survive in prison? And what would happen to my kids? And what if people started hitting on me? And I couldn’t have chocolate?…
Or the time that when I moved in high school I ended up seriously feeling depressed and for a period of time struggled to feel like myself. And struggled to want to be with friends. Or do things I’d always done. Until my mom dragged me off the couch one Saturday morning and told me the sad season was ending that day…
I don’t know.
Maybe you don’t relate to crazy.
Maybe this blog isn’t for you.
Maybe you fall in the 1% of the population that got the perfect gene. And you don’t feel like you have problems. And things that make you different from everyone else.
Or things that make you feel alone. Or afraid. Or weird. Or like the freak.
And if that’s the case. Stop reading.
But for the rest of you. Who HAVE struggled with stuff. Who know life isn’t always perfect. And certainly that you aren’t perfect.
That struggles with anger. Or addiction. Or depression. Or anxiety. Or overeating. Or overexercising. Or overreading. Overspending. Overdecorating. Overjudging.
The misfit. The black sheep. The screwup.
The ones that have asked God, “Why did you make me this way? Why did I have to come out with so much stuff? Why can’t I just fit in?”
Today, I just wanted to remind you of something.
God beams for you just like the Dad on the plane.
Not just a little. But a lot.
Your neuroses. Your problems. Your weirdness.
He sees it. He hates that it may cause you pain.
But just like my big, bad burly seat mate. He’s madly proud of you.
And he doesn’t change you. Because he doesn’t need you to be normal to love you.
And in the same sentence of listing all of your issues and downfalls, he can forget what he was saying, and beam with pride for you.
You may feel a need to be different to fit in. To be loved.
But all he needs to love you.
And if you can’t get that.
If that can’t sink in.
If you want to give him a list of all the reasons, you just aren’t right.
I can promise you this.
He’ll be more than happy to pull you outside, and explain his love for you. Until there’s no more questions left. Till you have nothing negative left to say…
The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17
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