we're a mess tonight.
the kids and i will be catching a plane tomorrow, beach bound. suitcases are open in every room. goggles and swimsuits and sandals covering every square inch. earlier this evening, bella tried to sneak in her entire collection of my pretty ponies, while my teenage daughter attempted to stash some more of her clothes into my bag -- hers being full. we're all vying for space. "one suitcase kids. just one."
our plan is to carry everything on the plane and check only one bag -- five kids, one mom and a lot of bags. we've been making trips to the beach for years, but this is our first time ever having to fly to florida. that's a really long car ride from minnesota and there just aren't any beaches that i'd care to frequent up here right now. normally, we just load up the suv. and when we've loaded everything in, we just go ahead and load some more. because we can. it's a big vehicle and somehow you can always fit in another pair of flip flops or sand bucket or something. a yukon xl can carry a lot of stuff. believe me, i know.
but tomorrow, we'll carry on our luggage. even the tiny girl. she'll have a bag. she looked at us tonight while making dinner and said with a bit of a quivering lip, "but mama, i can't carry my suitcase."
"oh, honey, i know. you won't have to carry your big bag!" i answered as quick as i could. i am certain bella's bag weighs more than she does.
and that's when i heard her big brother, tyler, say, "bella, i'll carry your bag for you."
and he will. because he's that kind of kid. he's that kind of brother. he's that kind of son. he carries things.
and all night that thought has rolled around in my head. all night as i have continued to stuff things into small suitcases and push the children along in their own packing, i have thought about tyler offering to carry bella's bag. there was some kind of connection, but i couldn't put my finger on it, until just a few minutes ago when the house finally went quiet. finally went still. when the bags were zipped up and the children were tucked in, it came to me:
tomorrow is Good Friday. tomorrow as we trek through the airport with all of our bags dragging behind us, it will be Good Friday. and i am all stirred up tonight sitting with my computer as i remember Good Friday two years ago. it was the day tyler came home from a class trip. i had gotten my cancer diagnosis earlier that week while he was gone and would have to give him the news when his bus pulled in that afternoon.
it was Good Friday, but absolutely nothing felt good.
he would be the last of the children to know and for some reason it was the hardest moment in all of the telling. i wrote a piece on that thursday night -- his last night of not knowing. the post was called "carry us Lord" and if you click on that title it will link back to that story (april 2011). today when he offered to carry bella's bag, that triggered the memory of my writing.
so today i look at my list of things to accomplish and i must add the telling of tyler. i wanted to be thinking about easter eggs and pastel colored baskets. but this Good Friday afternoon i will sit my son down with news which will cloak him in heaviness. this boy. this soon-to-be-man will want to carry it for me. i know him. he is a carrier. he is my son who seeing me with arms full of laundry insists on taking the load from me. he is a boy quick to say, "here mom, let me do that for you." that trash emptying. that hole digging. that firewood getting. that chair moving. that little sister toting. that carrying. he carries. he is tender like no other teen boy i've met. he has a strong spirit, but a soft heart. i have nothing to do with that. it is how he came. God dropped him into our laps 13 years ago and though he has my same eyes, he came with his very own tender heart. he is a comforter. a peacemaker. a laugh-bringer. a joy-digger. a gentler. a steadier. a smoother of wrinkles. ~ "carry us Lord."
and i can't help but think about that Good Friday two years ago and my telling of tyler. this boy who continues to carry so much for our family. in these past two years he has not only passed me up in height, but he has taken on new chores and responsibilities in our home. i often think, what would i do without this kid? he has also watched -- as we all have -- how God has carried us through the hard stuff. this boy who has always been willing to pick up the load and put it on his own back has learned how to give it to God and let go a little. it's an amazing thing to see this lesson take root in one so young.
on that awful friday afternoon in 2011, when i did tell tyler about my diagnosis, he laid his head on my lap and my strong son wept. the weight was too much for this boy who knew he could not carry this. he was and he is a good son, but that wouldn't be enough. good isn't ever enough, but Christ was. Christ is. Christ always is.
and really what i most want to think about on this eve of Good Friday, is Jesus. probably right about now in the garden of gethsemane, my Lord was flat on his face before his Father -- knowing full well what he'd have to carry tomorrow: the pain of persecution. the sins of the world. even his own cross to calvary. and it makes me want to lay my head on the lap of the Father and weep.
"carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the skull...golgotha." ~ john 19:17
and yet he chose to carry it all. he spoke up and he showed up. he carried so that we wouldn't have to. that's the message of tomorrow. that's the good in in the Good Friday. Christ carried it all to the cross. Christ even carried the cross. Christ carried us through cancer and Christ continues to carry us.
sometimes you have to go through something really heavy to really get how strong God is.
oh friend, i write this tonight, knowing that so many of you are burdened with incredible baggage. maybe not beach bound, but bound. bound and buried under the weight of your load...whatever it is: wayward child, unfaithful spouse, unexpected illness, financial ruin, even that sink full of dirty dishes.
let it go and let God carry. it's good. it's Good Friday.
whatever it is you are carrying, it isn't too much for Jesus.
"Beloved, the cross is not made of feathers, or lined with velvet, it is heavy and galling to disobedient shoulders; but it is not an iron cross, though your fears have painted it with iron colours, it is a wooden cross, and a man can carry it, for the Man of sorrows tried the load. Take up your cross, and by the power of the Spirit of God you will soon be so in love with it, that like Moses, you would not exchange the reproach of Christ for all the treasures of Egypt. Remember that Jesus carried it, and it will smell sweetly; remember that it will soon be followed by the crown, and the thought of the coming weight of glory will greatly lighten the present heaviness of trouble." ~ spurgeon