The Coat I Wear

I want them to remember me laughing.

My children.

When their mind replays the soundtrack of their childhood, I hope there rings the sound of my easy, unforced, laughter.

When they look back through the blur of memories that was their upbringing and picture my face, I hope that my coffee stained teeth are on full display and that the laugh lines around my eyes are etched deep.

Therefore, I MUST be free.

I am not sure why the word freedom has been bouncing around my brain lately. Perhaps it’s because the recent news is full of children in cages, and children trapped in caves, and my life right now is… children. To picture them in captivity of any kind is unbearable.

In the broadest sense of the word, I am the freest of the free.

Overall, I live my life in safety and privilege. A certain level of freedom, I was simply born into.

But at times I am bound by my own forgetfulness. I forget the unshakable, permanent, deep and complete inner freedom that is mine.

The freedom that swept around and through me in a rush of baptismal waters.

A pastor of mine once compared baptism to putting on your father’s coat as a child. It is much too big. It is something you need to grow into for it to fit.

I am very much still growing into my baptism.

I often live in captivity.

My laugh gets stifled by the grip of selfish discontentment. Of life stress. Worry.

I strap these cement blocks to my feet and try to swim.

Then I wonder why I’m sinking. Pulled under by the weight of expectations, societal pressures, other people’s opinions, busyness, jumbled priorities, sheer exhaustion…

I stretch my hand up to the surface and try to kick to where I can finally breathe.

I crave air. I crave freedom.

There are days when my wanderlust nature resents these three adorable ball ‘n chains I call my children. They scream for pancakes and I scream, “I want to see the Eiffel tower!!”

I forget to be thankful for that which others may ache for.

I become frustrated with the hamster wheel. With the kitchen countertop that is NEVER free of clutter. With my imperfect, human, children and all that comes with that. Some days my work seems futile.

“It goes fast,” many people have said to me.

True enough. There is a part of me that lives in a constant state of grief. I grieve every lost tooth, and corrected lisp. Soon enough they will be grown. They will eventually leave me.

And then when they look back on their childhood,

I hope they remember me laughing.

Not a shallow, manufactured laugh, but an effortless genuine laugh birthed of joy that comes with the deep knowledge that

I. Am. Free.

I don’t want them to first remember my furrowed brow. My blank stare at my phone. Not my hunched shoulders, or the effect that the “simple” act of getting all of us loaded up in the car can have on me.

I don’t want them to remember the times that I am too critical. Of them. Of others. Of myself.

The reality is, I hold the key to my own freedom. It was placed in my scar-free palm. On it is etched what Brennan Manning calls the “Ragamuffin’s Rumor,”

that all is grace.

Grace is all encompassing. It defies logic. It sweeps in, consumes.

It liberates.

Grace is woven through the fibers of my baptismal coat.

While I hope someday my children utter the phrase, “my mama never would have let me get away with that.” And that they remember the meals I cooked, the holidays I orchestrated, the vacation memories we made…

I mostly hope they carry with them the memory of me holding them close within my coat of grace and breathing freedom down their necks.

I hope they know my laugh as the song of one who knows and walks in deep freedom. I hope it gets stuck in their heads on replay.

I hope someday they put on their own long, too big, baptismal coat and walk into this unjust, trapped world.

And I hope I see the train of their coats drag out long behind them, grazing the ground they walk with a peculiar grace, drawing people by the sound of their unaffected laughter; Leading the way to freedom.


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