As the weather turns cooler (okay, as we can go outside without cooking in our skin... this is Texas) I start missing the smells and tastes of home. To celebrate the reuniting of myself and my crock pot last week and the seasoning of a very special cast-iron skillet, I decided it was time.
Big ol' pot of beans.
No, I haven't completely lost my marbles. Not all of them. As far back as I can remember, beans, cornbread, and fried potatoes has been part of my family. My Granny, Nanny's mother, used to have "bean day" every Wednesday for the whole family and any friends who wanted to come. All of us had different ways of eating them. Nanny liked the crunchies parts of the fried potatoes with beans and some "juice" with some chopped onion and salt and pepper. My aunt Gladys Mae, one of Nanny's sisters, likes hers with all that, plus more pepper and Tabasco. Grandad liked his like Nanny's except with catsup... and that's how I like mine. Beans, not so much juice, catsup, onion. Oh, and the crunchiest potatoes. Used to half-wrestle Nanny for those.
From the time I left for college, every time I visited home, Nanny would ask what I wanted to eat while I was home. This meal was always part of the list. Always at the top. She finally began to ask "what do you want to eat this week besides beans and fried potatoes?" With practice, I began to be able to recreate this meal pretty close to home. But it's just not the same without her.
As much as I was hurt in life, if there was a way for her to rescue me, Nanny would. Horrible breakup? She drove the three hours to listen to me cry. Need a way to go to college? She figured out a way to pay for my first year, because as she told the bank president, "her Mama wants to and can't, and her Daddy won't." But as much as she did for me, as much as she sacrificed for all of us...
We were still lonely.
We still hurt.
Even once she realized that I wasn't crazy, and autism really did exist and Ryan likely had it, she tried. She once had a lady who came to look at some Tupperware who kept looking out to the driveway as they talked. The lady kindly explained that her grandson was in the car, eating his lunch. She just didn't know what he'd do. After a minute or two of going on, the lady finally told Nanny that her grandson has autism. Nanny looked that grandmother in the eye and let her know that she wasn't alone. "Bring him on in!" she said, "there's not a thing in here he can hurt." And the boy came in, ate his lunch, and was awesome. And the grandmother was so grateful.
Even with family as amazing as I am blessed to have, even with a husband who loves me beyond what I can explain, even with friends I can call... they are still mortal. They will fail, they will mess up, they will... as my dear Nanny did... drift out of this life. And even if they lived forever, I am still me. My thoughts are my own, my heart is my own. There are moments when I have to be without someone else. There are times when I have to be alone.
Some people thrive on being alone. Some people say they do, but really just don't want to admit they're horrified of loneliness. Others still will readily admit their dislike of it, and go through life kicking, screaming, and whining every time they have to be by themselves. I'm not knocking friendships. I'm not knocking fellowship. I'm certainly not saying I have this area of life nailed. But there are times... and I'd like to throw out that, maybe even most of the time... we are who we are, doing what we do because it's what we do, and there's no one around with skin on who can possibly truly rescue us.
I've been on both ends of this. I've been the person who woke up on Saturday afternoon as a single adult with a stricken feeling at having to spend the day by myself, afraid I'd have to go it alone for a whole day. I've also been the person on whom someone placed their sanity, hope, and happiness. Both are awful places to be. Both, if taken to an extreme, can be detrimental or even deadly. It's not sinful to want company. It's not awful to enjoy company, or even to feel lonely! We were created with others in mind. Why did God create Eve again? Genesis 2:18 tells us, after creating Adam "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." We were made with a need for each other.
But who can sit with me through Ryan's meltdowns? Who can be with me through every fit? When my husband had back surgery and needed help out of bed at 2:30 in the morning to go to the bathroom after I'd just put the baby back down at 2:15, who was there? Me!
But I wasn't alone. No, I wasn't alone. Yes, my dear husband was there, but he needed me to be together and calm and loving for him. He needed my encouragement, not my whining (although he received quite a lot of that, I'm embarrassed to say). Through it all, from day one, to whom have I belonged?
Who knitted me together in my mother's womb? (Psalm 139)
Who planned my life's purpose? (Jeremiah 29:11)
Whose words calm my heart's fears, encourage me, teach me, reassure me, and remind me of His sovereignty?
Upon whose sovereignty does the very foundation of my faith rest?
It is He who abides with me. It is He who abides with my children, my husband, my dear family and friends. It is He who calms my spirit so I can be Ryan's, Richie's, and Maelynn's rock.
As we ate an unusually painful bowl of beans and fried potatoes last week, I was amazed at God's providence yet again. I love my husband, my children, my family, my friends. Although I may move, seemingly, heaven and earth to be with them in a time of need, I cannot be their everything. Even if I could write a check for their every need at every moment, I could not be their everything, nor could they be mine. And when I move away from God, forgetting to whom I belong for a time, He remains there, ever the same.
God alone can be my everything. He alone will calm me, hold me, give me peace, hold my tongue, and make me speak. Though my knees chatter, though my heart aches, though my heart, soul, mind, and physical strength be gone, He will abide with me.
Thanks be to God!
Abide With Me2007 Justin Smith Music
Abide with me; falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers, fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, abide with me.
Thou on my head, in early youth didst smile;
And, though rebellious, and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee,
On to the close Lord, abide with me.
I need Thy presence, every passing hour,
What but Thy grace, can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, abide with me.
I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless
Ills have no weight, tears lose their bitterness
Where is thy sting death? Where grave thy victory?
I triupmh still, abide with me.
Hold thou Thy cross, before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, Lord, abide with me.