He screeched to the front door with his two brothers, my youngest, and shoved the plastic container holding his first lost tooth right in my face. "Mommy, I lost my tooth, I lost my tooth!" "You did?" I asked excitedly.
He had waited so long...watched his brothers each lose tooth after tooth after tooth, and he just wanted to be big like them. I remember one day recently when his older brother had lost yet another tooth. Jonah's bottom lip puckered out like he was about to cry. "Don't worry," I said to him, "you're getting bigger every day, and the day is coming when you will start losing your teeth, too."
And oh, I wished this day would never come. It seems the early years are so hard, but since the youngest turned five all I've wanted to do is stop the clock. Not yet, Lord, not yet. I'm not ready for them to leave me.
I watch them grow bigger and stronger knowing that one day they will leave my nest, and I will miss them so much. But also I can't wait to see how they end up helping others with these many precious gifts of character God has given them. My boys are turning into young men every day right before my eyes. The Father overwhelms me.
But see, Jonah had lost that same tooth twice....at school when it came out of the socket, and later that evening when he dropped it while watching TV. You've never seen a bottom lip pucker like this, or eyes well up so full... "Don't worry, baby, we'll find it. We'll find it."
I went to a homeless shelter this week. You know, there are only supposed to be adult drug addicts at homeless shelters. But that's not what I saw.
I saw the physically disabled who's luck ran out, stuck between a rock and a hard place, but at least with a temporary roof. I saw a young boy whose mama just trusted the wrong man again. And he sat in this strange place, watching TV, just trying to look like he wasn't afraid as 40 people he didn't know shuffled back and forth along the hall. I saw a room full whose only hope was the next right step, who slept hard from exhaustion reaped from a day full of the stress of survival...
...Those that have lost way more than just their teeth, those that have lost way more than they could ever be proud of. I looked into eyes that just wanted to turn back time. They just wanted their clothes clean and their hair washed for their second chance.
I pulled my own boys' clean underwear out of the dryer and I thought of that boy. See, that's all his mama had asked for, was a pair of clean underwear for her boy, and I didn't have it to give. The Father says to give to he who asks, and I didn't have it to give. So instead I blessed my hallway carpet with a million tears and held that underwear to my chest.
I don't know how we can get so sidetracked worrying about who said what to whom, so cutthroat about our jobs, so snooty about our skills... intent on keeping people out, looking down our noses at lost causes. For you see, these same people are closer to bare bones and the spiritual side of things than even you and I right now...you can't deny it save mere ignorance. Us in all our luxury, them living hand to mouth from the mighty hand of God. While one man's luxury is a five bedroom, 3 bath home in the woods, and mine is a two bedroom apartment in a duplex....tonight theirs is a dry roof over a cot not too far from the cold breeze that cuts under that bridge.
I encourage you to take 10 minutes out of your day tomorrow to call a local shelter to find out what its residents' needs are. Maybe you can donate $10 to go towards supplies, like coffee cups, toothbrushes, and soap. Maybe you can work a shift once a week, once a month. Maybe you can be an ongoing supplier of gently used clothing.
Maybe all you can provide is that one pack of underwear for that little boy who had to leave his home in the middle of the night.
Finding a life once again after falling so far and so hard takes time and a whole lot of determination and heart. And I can tell you from experience that coming from a low place is made all the more bearable when someone doesn't reign judgement, but instead fills a need. Those that catered to my needs in my low places helped my spirit shift from just surviving to just thriving.
I want to find my teeth, and grit down against the unpleasantries and inconveniences, and give the little that becomes so much to someone else in order to say, "Don't worry. We'll find it. We'll find it."
"We'll find it."
Find more of Lauren Kay's personal blog postings at: http://lkcreatica.blogspot.com/