Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother’s Day Mayhem

by Sarah Van Diest

Mother’s Day doesn’t necessarily mean everything goes Mother’s way. Last year’s special day was not what I signed up for.

The church service was over and the youth band was packing up. They had done a great job leading worship so I bee-lined my way to the front to congratulate them, especially Zach, the lead kid on the team.

I hopped up the stairs to the stage, but misjudged the final step. (Yep. Feel free to picture what was about to happen.) My right foot caught the lip of the stage and a forward fall commenced. In slow motion, or lightning speed, both are fitting, I crashed head first into the side of the black grand piano; the brunt of the impact landing on my right front teeth. My face turned sideways and my cheek suction-cupped itself to the black surface as I slipped down it.

Everything went black.
At some point soon thereafter I found myself kneeling at Zach's feet. He set his guitar down, knelt in front of me and blurted out, “Are you okay?” His astonished face was blurry and continued to be blurry even with my attempts to fix it for him. I don’t know if I answered him with anything other than a blank stare.

As my head began to clear and I realized where I was, I looked up to see what I had hit so violently. There, on the side wall of this beautiful grand, was my face print. Make-up was slapped in one spot and smeared down the side.

But there was something else.

Embarrassed for having plastered my Mac cosmetics all over the clean, shiny black grand, and as a crowd gathered around me, I woozily and almost absent-mindedly wiped off the make-up with my sleeve. But I couldn’t get it all just right. In the process of hitting the piano and falling downward, my tooth had dug out both paint and wood leaving a tooth-shaped, bright white gash on the solid black piano, and all my sleeve-wiping couldn’t make it go away.

I felt my face for broken or missing teeth...all was well.

Sweet Zach, though still blurry, gave me his full attention and aid. As the rest of the church stared at me trying to figure out if I was injured or just moved by the Spirit, I laughed and told him that all I wanted was to tell him he did a great job.

He helped me stand and walked me down the steps, looked at me with a huge smile and said, "Happy Mother's Day!"

The following moments were spent taking pictures of both me and the piano, recapping for those unlucky enough to have missed the incident, and trying to decide if I had a concussion or not.

One root canal later, I’m doing much better.

As painful, both physically and emotionally, as this was, the turmoil of such public embarrassment is good for me. It’s good for all of us if we take it in the right context. This is life. It’s messy. It’s clumsy. Sometimes it’s excruciatingly unpleasant and we can’t always have people see us the way we want them to see us, but painful moments don’t have to be defined solely by the pain they bring. There is more they offer.

This particular incident offered me the opportunity to embrace the things that matter and leave slapped on the side of the piano the things that don’t. My pride, self-reliance and self-assurance, along with my Texas bred poise and grace: the book-balanced-on-my-head-as-I-glide-down-a-staircase-with-eyes-straight-forward sort of poise, could all be left there adhered to the piano. There wasn’t much use in trying to reattach them anyway; the truth had been revealed.

The temptation in moments like these is to run and hide, or shrink into nothingness so no one will see the reality about who you are. That’s the voice of shame, by the way. Shame makes us want to disappear. Shame reveals a belief we hold about ourselves and if we are paying attention, we will recognize the tenor of shame’s voice and it’s not our heavenly Father’s.

Kneeling on that stage, not in prayer but in literal weakness, I heard the voice of shame and the voice of love both speaking to me. The voice of shame mocked me, laughed at me and taunted me. It told me to be humiliated and cry; to give in to the feeling of despair that comes with the identity of the “unwanted.” Countering that nasally, puny voice, the sweet, tender voice of love came from all around as dear ones turned their faces toward me and stretched out their hands with compassion and concern. It rang out in my heart and reminded me that my faltering, fumbling feet do not have the authority to define who I am. In fact, only my heavenly Father does. He loves me and I am wanted.

My head was fuzzy, dizzy and foggy, and all things were hard to make out except those two voices. I had a choice to make.

The temptation to succumb to the lies of the enemy was strong. I’ve listened to that voice most of my life, but this time was different. I had been practicing the presence of the Father and I had been learning to discern His voice from the others that call out their version of truth. So when this moment came, I recognized His voice amid the noise. I chose my Father’s voice. Instead of wishing that day had never happened, I recall it with a sense of joy. It was a good Mother’s Day. It was a good any day. My weakness revealed the Father’s strength. The thing meant for harm became the thing that blessed.

On this day, Mother’s Day, whose voice will you listen to? If you are a mother, a father, a daughter, a son, whoever you are, this day is a good day to evaluate what voice you are heeding. Maybe there are some things that need to get slapped onto your proverbial piano so well they stick…and then leave them there. The voice that lies to you and declares you are “unwanted” should always be left there in the smear of things where it belongs. The voice that whispers “you are loved” is our Father’s. Listen.  

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good….” Gen.

5:20

Sarah has worked in Christian publishing since 2005 as both and editor and an agent. 

Currently, she works with her husband, David, in their agency, the Van Diest Literary Agency. Writing is a growing passion for her as she hopes to bring hope to hurting hearts.

18 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. You are very welcome!
      Blessings,
      Sarah

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  2. Thank you for sharing. I am so glad you did not break your neck. I am constantly reminded that I have a choice of what voice to listen to. Lies or Love? I chose Love. Thank you for the reminder.

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    1. Yes, I am very thankful, too! It could so easily have resulted in more damage.

      "Lies or Love." I like the way you put that. It seems so simple, doesn't it? But in the midst of things, it rarely feels that way. Making it simple like you do here is so helpful... if we see clearly enough to figure out which category those voices go in, because we've learned the difference between the two, the easier our choice becomes. Love it!
      Thank you!
      Sarah

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  3. I always look forward to your posts. I can so relate :)

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    1. Thank you, Jennifer. And I always look forward to your responses! You are such an encouraging voice!
      Many blessings,
      Sarah

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  4. Sarah, thank you for this post. Your kind words spoke to my mother's heart, especially: "Shame makes us want to disappear. Shame reveals a belief we hold about ourselves and if we are paying attention, we will recognize the tenor of shame’s voice and it’s not our heavenly Father’s." For decades, I've grieved and, yes, hidden from the terror of shame about "failing" as a mom. That despite my love, prayers, church attendance, and professional counseling with and for my "boys" they blame me for events over which I had little, or no, control. Things like their father's affairs that killed our marriage. His schizophrenia, and eventually theirs. A car accident that involved one of them as a teen (he was driving) that caused an undiagnosed closed brain injury that showed up years later with devestating symptoms. Three doctors found nothing wrong. This Mother's Day morning, after reading your words, I can hear God's loving voice. Finally, I can forgive myself for not preventing or changing those things that were completely beyond my control. I can celebrate, as imperfect as I was as a single mom, that I did love, pray for and with, and enjoy my children. Thank you, Sarah, for helping me recognize the voice of the liar. And most of all, for helping me embrace the loving voice of God.

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    1. Dear one,
      What a powerful letter. Thank you so much for sharing your heart, your journey and our Father's faithfulness! I am so sorry for your pain. I can tell you know what pain is. You are loved, though you may have not always felt it. My hope for you, dear one, is that you will see our Father in those dark places. There is no place He will not go with you, and no place you have been where He did not walk.
      I will be praying for you. I may not know your name, but our Father knows you.
      In His love,
      Sarah

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    2. Sarah, thank you for your uplifting words and most importantly your prayers. I have and do see our Father in the dark places and am in the process of revisiing a novel to share this light with others. If I may ask for specific prayer, would you please pray that every word I type will show Him honor and glory? Again, thank you so much for taking the time to reply, Sarah. Blessings to you and yours.

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    3. Absolutely! Prayers lifted. Type away and glorify His name! Awesome!!! Keep me posted on your novel. It sounds wonderful and needed.
      Blessings,
      Sarah

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    4. Sarah, thank you for your amazing encouragement and for asking me to keep you posted on the novel. Definitely will do!
      Blessing on you and those you love,
      Typing in Texas

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    5. Now you have me curious, oh Anonymous one. I'm from Texas. What part(s) of that great state do you claim?
      :)
      Sarah

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  5. Thanks, Sarah, for your transparency. It's good to remember we're not the only ones who stumble and fall. And whether it's us or someone else, we must listen for the voice of love, NOT the voice of shame!

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    1. Greetings, Julie!
      Thank you for your words. Ah, yes, we all stumble sometimes, don't we? In many ways.
      Blessings to you as you listen to our Father's voice saying, "I love you, Julie."
      Sarah

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  6. I did almost the exact same thing on my wedding day. Misjudged the step up onto the altar. Fortunately, my soon-to-be husband kept me from falling on my face. Those who noticed it thought I had had a few drinks before the ceremony. (No, I didn't. I'm just prone to tripping up steps.).

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    1. Oh, Carole! You make me laugh and cringe at the same time! I'm sure you remember that moment with absolute clarity. Oh, dear! I'm very glad you didn't fall. And how symbolic to have your husband catch you!
      Many blessings,
      Sarah

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  7. Powerful truth, Sarah. Thank you!

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    1. Oh, thank you, Vonda! That means a great deal coming from you. I am honored.
      Many blessings,
      Sarah

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