What Matters

Reflections on Shuffle-Play

What Matters by Matthew Sweet

My children go back to school tomorrow. After a long, beautiful summer filled with lazy days, sleeping in, camp, movies, one tonsillectomy, one trip to Norway, sleepovers, too many video games and TV shows, it is time to start a different routine. Right now, it’s hard to be too sentimental about them not being around every day as they are yelling at each other in the next room. Even so, I always get a little sad when it is time for the school year to start. I love the summers and the long, uninterrupted days with them. Sure, I still have to go to work, but they are old enough now that they are fine to be left alone for a few hours. We have always been spoiled, too, since the church where I work is right next door so if they needed me, in 200 paces they could be at my office door.

I never planned to be a mom. I was never one to exclaim over babies or to dream about raising a child. I can’t explain our decision to become parents except that one day when I was 35 my husband and I talked about how if we were going to become parents, we would have to start trying soon. We were so casual about it – completely content to let nature take its course. If we became pregnant – great. If we didn’t, it wasn’t meant to be. Our sense of eagerness would likely have increased if it had taken us longer – but as it was, the first time we tried to get pregnant, we did. It happened in exactly the same way a year later when we got pregnant with our second child. I was well aware of how different the experience was for many of my friends who tried for years to get pregnant and suffered miscarriages, so I never took my ease for granted. I was thankful.

But still, before my eldest finally arrived, I was scared. What if I hated being a mom? What if my child didn’t like me? I worried my way into motherhood, gaining 60 pounds and yet nauseous the whole time. My anxiety ramped up to a furious level as I thought about all the new things there were to worry about now when I not only had my own cares and concerns, but this whole other little person, too.

Then, he was born on a June afternoon. I didn’t get to hold him until the middle of the night because he had to be on oxygen in the NICU for a while. My husband had gone home to get a few hours of sleep and the nurse brought him to me and placed him in my arms. With the sounds of the city just beginning to wake up outside, I held my first-born and looked at his little face. So serene. So peaceful. All he needed in the whole wide world was for me to be his mom, and I realized that was what I needed, too.

And so, I became a mom – and I could write books about this – but the greatest surprise has been how it has been the loveliest part of life so far. My children have changed everything. They have made me less selfish. They have made me realize what matters. While I am prone to get too worked up about things at work, they remind me I am more than my job.

So, anyway, it’s back to school time. God bless my dear boys and all the children heading back to the routine of classrooms and extracurriculars. God bless all the parents as we let them go to keep on with their becoming.

sausalito boys

 

What Matters

In my mind I can’t imagine
How the world has come to me
And in my heart I can’t detach
The feeling that it couldn’t be

And no, I don’t want to kiss you
Don’t want to miss you if you go away
I’ll fake it don’t want to make it
Don’t want to feel another way

Once you had a love and you let it go
Now you know what matters
Once you had a dream that you realized
But do you know what matters

‘Cause you’re alone in the sense that I am
But you know we’re not alone
And we aren’t perfect nothing is
But try to understand
The moment leaves you without a vision
Can’t see decisions being made
I can describe the picture I’m painting
It’s not amazing when you know

Once you had a love and you let it go
Now you know what matters
Once you had a dream that you realized
But do you know what matters

To leave your feelings in the past
Part of it is you know you can’t go back for free

And no, I don’t want to kiss you
Don’t want to miss you if you go away
I’ll fake it don’t want to make it
Don’t want to feel another way

Once you had a love and you let it go
Now you know what matters
Once you had a dream that you realized
But do you know what matters

To leave your feelings in the past
Part of it is you know you can’t go back for free

What matters

Songwriters: Matthew Sweet

 

Lighthouse

Reflections on Shuffle-Play

Lighthouse by Antje Duvekot

It’s not a song to get your heart pumping. It’s a song for a cool down, or even better, to listen to in the car and daydream as the miles drift by. If you don’t know it, you should. Antje Duvekot has a beautiful voice and is a wonderful song-writer.

The song came on as I was working at my computer today, not running. And even though I was sitting in my office, stewing about schedules and working on a letter to confirmation parents, in a moment, the opening notes of the song transported me to a night over twenty-three years ago in Nigeria. I was sitting on a picnic table under a full moon when the boy I loved quietly, but with every cell in my body, leaned over and kissed me.

I stopped breathing, I think. I had a boyfriend. He had a girlfriend. But we had grown close over the months as we traveled with a small group leading programs at schools and churches. He was irreverent and funny. All the other girls thought he was so good-looking but what drew me into him was how we could sit and talk about music or books or God for hours. Our connection began slowly and built over time. Ultimately, I found myself thinking of him at odd times and so sweetly. I didn’t mean to. It just happened – I slipped and fell into adoration and affection, so deep.

We kissed that night and we kissed another night, and then we went back to the United States and back to our former relationships. Neither lasted very long. After kissing him, I didn’t want to kiss my boyfriend anymore – that was a problem. Then, we were living in the same city and we still hung out as friends, and made out now and then.

He was like air to me for a long time. I was desperate for him like in an 80’s romantic movie or an episode of Guiding Light. I couldn’t imagine my days without him. But he could imagine his without me. Our time together often became an exercise in pain as I would do anything to spend time with him, but that meant listening to stories about the different women he was dating. I hated them all with a smile on my face. I wanted to be able to be his friend – but it was excruciating to be near him and know he just didn’t love me the same way I loved him. He was my world….but I was his friend.

And so, I moved on. I fell truly in love again. He got married. I read at his wedding and danced at the reception. I got married. I have only seen him twice in the last twenty years.

But still, the right notes and lyrics send me directly back to that quiet Nigerian, moonlit night when he kissed me. For that moment, I was cooler than Beyonce, I was the Homecoming Queen, I was the Winner of All the Things. Amazing how young love can do that – make you feel everything. So completely exhilarated, changed.

Looking back, I can see what a crush it was. It had all the markings of infatuation. And while I did love him, we were not in love. Being in love is so different. The former takes your breath away, sure – but the latter goes to the store to get 7-up for you when you have the stomach flu. You can’t build a life on breathlessness, but you can build a beautiful life on being able to depend on another and knowing they depend on you.

What seasons of love have you known in your life? Who was your first love? Your unrequited love? Your love of a lifetime? What did you learn from each of those relationships? Are you glad to be where you are now or do you long for something different or more?

Pray about that. Jesus told us the most important thing is to love one another – and invite God to be part of your love stories – all of them.

Pray for the strength to let go.

Pray for the hope to try again.

Pray for the persistence to love when it is hard.

Pray for a thankful heart for the good memories.

Pray for healing for the hurts.

Pray. Love. Repeat.

lighthouse

Lighthouse lyrics:

You, you’re not the first to ask
And probably not the last
And I don’t expect you to understand

Why I stayed upon this rock
After the birds had gone
And all of the waves turned to sand

I am a lighthouse
In a desert and I stand alone
I dream of an ocean that was here a long time ago
And I remember his cool waters and I still glow

These days the sunlight has bleached my paint
And the moonlight has made it plain
That nobody needs me to call them home

But I swear there was a time when
I would shine for him through the night
And he was the only ocean that I have known

I am a lighthouse
In a desert and I stand alone
I dream of an ocean that was here a long time ago
And I remember his cool waters and I still glow

Now my lantern bears a crack
And I know he will not be back
But I will leave the light on forever

I am a lighthouse
In a desert and I stand alone
I dream of an ocean that was here a long time ago
And I remember his cool waters and I still glow