When Rhema was three, she had a portable DVD player that in many ways served as a security blanket for her. (This was before iPads!) We’d play her favorite nursery rhymes and Barney videos over and over. Before going to bed she’d always want a video of a live George Strait concert. That little player got us through doctor appointments, air travels, and long term EEG monitoring in the hospital. It was a constant for her.
One Christmas we flew to Michigan to visit grandparents and family we don’t get to see very often. Rhema’s young cousins were naturally quite interested in her DVD player and kind of hijacked it without realizing it. Rhema let them. In a space that was not her home, where everything was different and unpredictable, she shared the thing that brought her comfort. Brandon took a picture and I keep it on my dresser to this day because it’s a perfect reflection of a kind and patient heart, a willingness to move aside, to share. What’s mine is yours.
Last night, after the girls had been fed and bathed, I made myself a bowl of ravioli for dinner. I set it at my spot on the table and went to the refrigerator for a cup of juice. Rhema came and sat down in her chair, reached for my bowl and began eating. I groaned. “Silly goose. That was mine.” But she’s always felt free to help herself to whatever. (I kind of love that.) I thought of splitting the meal with her but she’d already topped it with a mountain of cheese, and ravioli and sauce slipped and squirmed through her fingers. I sat down next to her as she ate.
Watching her reminded me of when I was twenty years old working in Ethiopia at one of Mother Teresa’s homes for the homeless, the sick and dying. I lived in the women’s quarters and a patient would often slip into my room at night. Without a word, she would sit on my cot and eat my toothpaste. We did not speak the same language so she would just smile at me as she made a meal out of my toothpaste.
My time in Ethiopia was like no other and my love for the people was so strong I really gave little thought for myself. Whatever I could do or give, I did, I wanted to help. I gladly took my clothes from my suitcase and gave them all to streetgirls.
Without hesitation Rhema reached over, took my cup and gulped down the drink. I laughed and echoed words from my heart felt long ago on the streets of Addis Ababa. What’s mine is yours.
Our lives are filled with the weight of too many demands. The things I really want to do I cannot do – it seems there’s no time left for it at day’s end. And often what I am doing just doesn’t seem good enough in my eyes.
The God who spared not His own Son, is the most generous of givers and we are the most blessed of receivers. It occurs to me that this stuff – ‘all that has been in my life up to now’ can be given to Him who gave all. The One who said, I am yours.
Call it extreme or “devout”, but I hope this, pray this, want to live this: In the kitchen in a heap of deferred dreams, and even in suffering, we come near and dance Freedom’s dance. We fall on our knees in joy and thanksgiving, unclench our fists. We lift up our loves, our empty cups, our suitcase of not-enoughs and guilty pasts, that thing we long for most, our small and big. All of it, an offering. Take this from my hands, everything I have. What is mine? I belong to You.