I wait at the traffic lights to cross. It’s a busy road, the one that goes through this seaside corner of Cape Town, and the cars don’t stop. And through my head spins this: Left – Pemba, Right – Cape Town. And again: Left – America, Right – the UK. All these options. The cars whizz by. And every day this whizzes through my mind too: the mamas in a thousand colours wandering through orange Mozambican dirt, the family and friends we left behind in cosy Britain, the opportunities to be refreshed in the States, the aching cry of my heart for South Africa. And I look down at my feet, waiting to cross the road. And I think, but really what I have to do is potty train my daughter today. And when I can barely think past gold reward stars and pee-stained leggings, how I am supposed to choose which path to take?
And I cross the road.
We are beyond tired in Pemba and wondering if it’s time to move on, to ensure we can stay in missions for the long haul. But I love that place with a fierce love and even though I might sigh with relief at the thought of leaving, my heart also might hurt as I take it out of the dirt. We, too, are in love with South Africa. We want to run into the broken places and be healing, we want to live in this nation for a long time. And yet, we know we need some encouragement. Long, refreshing showers of encouragement, so we can run hard wherever we’re called to run. We could stay in our corner of Mozambique, or we could go anywhere. There are a lot of options. That is where we are at.
I pack up their dresses into suitcases again. And try my best to put into child language what on earth we are doing with a scooter in Pemba and friends in Cape Town and Grandpa on the computer and a little blue potty in the loo. Theparenting blogs tell me in a gentle but firm tone that children will thrive within predictable, settled routines. I look at the suitcases and the blue potty and I keep giving my two year old a bottle of milk at bedtime because it’s all the settled routine we’ve got.
Here’s the thing.
They are thriving.
I am the one who is catching up. Of course, they have struggled. They’ve been sick and I’ve been stressed but really, they are doing so well.
As I prayed about a specific opportunity recently, curled up in my bed seeking him, He gave me a vision. He snuck it into my mind and I tried my best to ignore it and get on. But it will not leave me. I saw Moses’ mama. I saw her walk down to the river, and place her sweet boy on the waters. Lying peacefully in a great big basket, bobbing up and down. And she let him go.
She let him go.
And then – could she have dared believe it? – through the smart tenacity of her other daughter, he was found and placed backinto her arms. For her to raise him herself. But not only that, as she received him back out of the waters, through this act of letting go, her baby son received his inheritance. Moses, son of Pharaoh, cloaked in royalty, destined to set an entire generation free. All of this, birthed out of a mama’s choice to release. Blazing a fiery trail that Hannah would echo when she said that Samuel “is the Lord’s.” Blazing a fiery trail for Mary when the angel told her tenderly “a sword will pierce your heart also.” All this letting go and then before each mama ran an abolitionist, a prophet, the Messiah.
I pray about things. I pray about whether Pemba is right for our family. I pray about opportunities in the States, where I might have to ask someone to hold my baby for a while so I can truly be refreshed. I pray about our longing for the broken parts of Cape Town, places where gun shots are heard and mamas keep their children inside. All of these options mean letting them go. And like the women of Scripture before me, I believe letting go means watching my children inherit their destiny.
I sneaked into her bedroom yesterday. Lily was asleep, surrounded by a fluffy pink blanket, a worn teddy and an enormous Minnie Mouse (the kind I never thought I’d buy until I became a parent). I lay next to her, and I marvelled at her – those individual eye lashes, that little mouth, the way she breathes in and out. She was perfect. It was just the kind of moment where I might think you are so lovely, I just want to shield you from the world, hide you in my heart.
But I thought, almost for the first time, you are perfect. And the only thing that could possibly match you is Perfection. Only Jesus is right for you my baby girl. And I will do whatever it takes to give you all of Him, every single day. If it means taking you out of crazy circumstances so we can snuggle and bake cakes, I will do it. If it means taking you into crazy circumstances so I can open your eyes to His beauty in brokenness, I will do it. I will do it.
I type this out in faith, because I am a mama made of skin and flesh, and I have all these doubts that tug at the me. All these well-meaning voices that echo in my ears. All these parenting blogs flashing before my eyes.
But then, too, I have Moses’ mama, hiding in those quiet printed words of Exodus. Hannah. Mary. And I have those eyelashes. Those eyelashes that speak of a perfect little girl, destined only for Perfection, nothing less. My children are not mine, I think, and I let go. They are His.