“And this is what I made in art today!” Eliot spouted, proudly offering up his paper sculpture for both parents to see. We  took in the spiraled mesh of curled extruding magazines shards, an 8-year old’s vision of zuchini. Crazy. Distorted. Beautiful. We shared a quick knowing glance, both pressing back smiles.

“Wow, zuchhini huh?” John leaned in closer to survey the beautiful and distorted vegetable recreation.

Eliot bounced as he spoke, “Yep! Zucchini! And this is what I did in science..” He whipped solar system diagrams out of his camouflaged backpack, “and geography…and english…” the papers just kept piling up in front of us. We grinned at the onslaught of sudden show-and-tell.

I put my arm around his bony shoulders and squeezed, knowing how he enjoyed the individual attention, a rarity for one so far down in birth order. He soaked in every second.

He put one arm around my waist and squeezed me back, then his other arm sprang out from his side and wrapped around his father, pulling him in. Close. Awkwardly close.

I gave one more slight squeeze and then let go and stepped back. Reclaiming my space.

John stayed put, but with one hand began leafing through the buffet of work, “You are so smart Eliot. You do such great work, I love seeing everything you do,” he pulled out a particularly fiery picture of Jupiter and held it up to the light.

Eliot’s smile widened.

He turned his radiant face upward and said, “Dad, can you spend the night? Just tonight? Please?”

John and I both froze. Amazing that so many years later, so comfortable in the new normal, things still occasionally knock the wind out of us.

We both laughed nervously, John reached down tousled his son’s sandy hair. “No no, you know that’s not possible. But I love being with you. And I’ll see you again soon. Friday – just a few more days.”

Eliot looked back and forth between our faces, finally resting again on his father’s. “Please Dad! Come on, just one night! We’ll have a sleepover!”

John pulled him in for a long hug, answering with his silence.

When he unwrapped his arms from the boy, Eliot was still smiling. But less. The glow was diminished, his shoulders slumped now ever so slightly. “Okay,” he responded, “Friday.” The response of a boy who was used to his life, who had accepted it. And yet still dared to ask for what he actually wanted. Against all odds.

But that night he would sleep in the home he was legally bound to sleep in. And I would sleep there as well, with my husband. John would go home to his wife, and sleep with her. Everyone in their place.


His words, no his courage, echoed through my mind that night as I wrestled myself to sleep. Eliot could not even walk when John left, he certainly had no memory of living day in and day out with his father. And he loved every member of his ever-growing crazy tribe – the step-parents, the step-siblings, the half-brothers – all of them. A family and life not unlike the unwieldy zucchini structure. Yet still deep in his tiny heart he hoped for something else. Something he would never have. Two parents, his parents, under the same roof.

So should he have asked outloud for this, for the impossible? Is that not what I’ve taught and trained him to do, to search his heart, to ask with courage, to believe? Just that weekend at church, the speaker  again stirred us to a frenzy, “Nothing is impossible with God! Nothing!” and of course I cheered in agreement, surrounded by fellow cheerleaders. Certainly it was true. The Bible said it, after all.

Yet how do I say to those little rich brown eyes that everything is possible with God, except the things he wants most? Do I make up answers I don’t actually have, or do I teach him how to overlook the things that just don’t add up?

My dream for him, for myself as well I suppose, is a rich courageous faith that dares to take God at His word, even before we can get it all worked out ourselves. I’m not sure it’s possible to set parameters on risk. All questions must be able to be asked, all deep dreams of the heart free to be brought into the light.

God is not scared of our questions. In fact it’s very much the opposite; God-in-flesh not only welcomed them, he often answered with even grander questions. So tonight my faith looks like not having it worked out. Trusting enough to allow space for his honest questions, impossible though they might seem. Grateful that he feels safe enough with us to ask them out loud, maybe echoes of the same love from our heavenly Father who tells us to approach His throne boldly as well.

2 Responses to “Courageous questions”

  1. Celeste says:

    Thank you for sharing so candidly. This entry spoke to a deep place in me…I am with you!

    • AMaria says:

      This line pierced my soul…. Do I make up answers I don’t actually have, or do I teach him how to overlook the things that just don’t add up? It is a concept that I wrestle with each time I encounter something that makes no sense according to how I understand the kingdom… Thanks for sharing, glad I am not alone.

Leave a Reply →