I sat across the table from my littlest man over our favorite Saturday meal: bagels. We talked of Little League and Avengers, until suddenly, he threw me a curve ball question.
“Mom, when I get bigger, can you please save one of my baby books (Joseph-speak for the photo albums I make for each of them each year of their lives)?”
Surprised by the sudden dive in depth, I asked why he asked that question.
“Because I never want you to forget me.”
Cue the tears. I lifted my sunglasses and looked in his darting little eyes and said, with full confidence, “I could never, never, never forget you. You are my child.”
I love when God surprises me with these moments, when in the midst of chronos (chronological time), deep time (kairos) seems to bubble up.
You see, I have been thinking lately, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly, about the fear of being forgotten.
At least ten times a day, I hear the phrase, “Mom, look at ____,” in reference to a drawing, a comic, a Lego creation, a pitch, a soccer juke, or any other number of things. It took my half a decade to realize that their need to be affirmed in their actions is a deep heart cry to be seen and noticed and enjoyed.
Kids are so obvious with their fears of being forgotten and their nagging needs to be known and noticed. When I am being honest with myself, I am able to see that I am no different than my children in their need for affirmation, attention and assurance. I cry out a thousand times a week in more subtle ways for people to look at me. Like my photo so I know that I am not forgotten in the trenches of motherhood. Notice the bathroom I scrubbed so that I know my contribution as a wife is significant. Read my blog post so that I know that gifts are not being wasted.
I have been peering into Henri Nouwen’s piercingly honest private thoughts by reading The Genesee Diary, his meditations from seven months spent in a Trappist monastery. Throughout his time there, Nouwen intermittently faced his fear of being forgotten by his students and friends from back home. Away from all the busyness of teaching, traveling and speaking, Nouwen was still enough to realize the deep, aching need in him to be see and known and remembered.
While there is nothing wrong with our innate desires to be remembered, known and seen, God longs that we know that more than any human being, He is the God who sees and hears and knows.
Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget you, yet I will not forget you” (Isaiah 49: 15-16).
My favorite name attributed to the Lord in all the Old Testament comes from a scared single mother.
Hagar had the unfortunate role of being a strange tug-of-war rope between Abram and Sarai. In her lack of faith in God’s ability and impatience at His timing, Sarai forced her maid to sleep with her husband, which resulted in the conception of Ishmael, a son born from and for great consternation.
After being harshly treated by Sarai, Hagar fled into the desert. The angel of the Lord, (considered by many to signal an appearance of Christ in the Old Testament) found her in her fleeing. He named her, recognized the prickly situation in which she found herself positioned, and promised to protect her and provide for her and her son.
So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly, here I have seen him who looks after me” (Genesis 16:13).