I happened to sit next to Christie Purifoy at the Festival of Faith and Writing last spring, only to discover that we had attended the same college (Texas A&M), studied in the same department (English), and been active at the same church (Grace), just a few years apart from each other. I've enjoyed getting to know her more through her posts at There Is A River, and am so happy she's sharing this with us today.
I know that Advent should include repentance. In fact, repentance is supposed to be an integral part of any advent observance. The idea, I think, is that we must prepare ourselves to receive Christ.
I’ve mostly avoided thinking about it.
I far prefer to meditate on ideas like wonder or anticipation.
If I think much about sin at all it’s to imagine the sin out there. For instance, the dark injustice of human trafficking or the world orphan crisis.
I’d rather not confront the darkness in my own heart.
Until the parents of twenty first-graders walked into a nightmare.
The day of the shooting I sent my own first-grader to school in tears. I yelled, “What is wrong with you?”
It was day eight of his dad’s business trip. I’d been up since 5:30 with the baby. He’d misplaced his shoes, and it seemed likely he would miss the bus. He has misplaced his shoes every single week since school began in August. We’ve taken to charging him a dollar if we find them first.
None of that matters.
On Friday, I realized that it wasn’t important if my son continues to lose his shoes every day of every year for the rest of his life.
All day I cried and prayed, “Thank you, thank you for giving me another chance.”
I might not have had that chance.
We like to describe our love for our children as the most natural, instinctual thing. I’ve never quite understood that.
Love feels much harder to me. Yes, I would run into a burning building for my child. That actually seems quite easy. The hard part? Biting my tongue when I haven’t had enough sleep. Being patient even when they make the same mistakes again and again.
And the biggie? Laying aside my book, getting up off the couch, and slicing the apple they’ve asked for instead of making them wash it themselves and eat it whole. Because even I know that an apple sliced paper-thin tastes so much better.
There are too many mothers wishing they could slice one more apple. Wipe one more runny nose. Search high and low for lost shoes.
Lord Jesus Christ, son of God. Have mercy on me, a sinner.
I told myself the darkness in my own heart was not that big of a deal. I was wrong. The good news is that I don't have to wait for a burning building to give my children the very best of my love for them. I can do it now and every day. I can do it in a thousand little ways.
Because the grandest, most beautiful kind of love is revealed in the smallest, most insignificant forms.
Like a baby. A baby born on the ragged edge of an empire in a room smelling of animals.
No heroics. No burning building.
Christie Purifoy is a Jesus-follower, a writer, a wife, and a mother to four. Raised in Texas, she earned a PhD in English Literature from the University of Chicago and now lives in an old farmhouse in southeastern Pennsylvania. Christie blogs regularly at There is a River where she finds poetry in the ordinary pain and joy of daily life.