You hadn't yet turned five, but your imagination was huge and six months before you had created this family inside your head and you were convinced that it was with them that you truly belonged.
I had been sitting on the floor when you came up to me, your eyes all bright and your smile so wide and you said,
Mama? I have another Mama! And I like her better! Than you!
I could only answer by asking what she had done that made her more lovable than the very woman who bore you, and your reply was sure and swift,
Because she gave me a brother.
So six months later on the drive to church across town, as your wailing grew louder and your tears began to pour down your face, I couldn't imagine what was causing such emotional pain in someone so small.
Words began to accompany the crying and I began to understand,
They died!! They died in a fire! Last night my family died!! They are all dead!
I would have laughed, except you were still lamenting as we walked into the building and as you were signed in and passed from my hand to theirs, I had to whisper to the woman leading you to class that this family grieved for actually never existed outside of the heart of a little boy who felt a deep void.
This year has been a hard one for you, I think. Your big eyes take in so much around you, and as brothers come to the doors of Madison House and you watch the way they interact, you are realizing in small ways that they have something that you don't have.
You came up to me today, this last day of being 5 years old and you put your face so close to mine and you whispered,
It would have been better to be a girl.
I didn't understand right away, and I put my nose next to yours and I told you all the really super cool things that come with being a boy, but that wasn't what you were trying to tell me. Instead, you broke through my list and said with a trembling lip,
But if I was a girl, I'd have someone to play with.
Because as much as your sisters will sit down and play cars with you, they don't understand the excitement that comes from the crashing and the racing and the chasing. Well...Liv may, but that's a whole other topic.
You fall asleep to the sound of your older sisters whispering and giggling in the dark down the hall and there are secrets they share that shut you out. You're still trying to decipher what Zee is babbling at you through the slats in her crib, or why she is screaming incoherently at her blankie all crumpled up on the floor as she determinedly tries to swipe your favorite car and flush it down the toilet. I can almost hear the thoughts building in your head some days...the ones that whisper, a brother wouldn't do that.
Only, he probably would, but you don't know that. All you know is that you are a little brother in a sea of sisters and that's probably a pretty lonely feeling sometimes, no matter how much they love you (Whether they show it or not).
You have been given a daunting task, brave son of mine. One you may not even realize you have. With two older sisters who feel it's their place to be Mamas #2 and 3 after me, you could easily be bowled over by the motherly attention.
In a different church across town tonight, you sit in a row and you sing songs and eat snacks and probably wiggle around more than once. You slipped on your VBS shirt and as you bounded out the door, your sadness was quickly forgotten.
And as I sit here in a quiet house I am realizing that maybe I have been looking at this all wrong.
I reached into the fridge to grab the cream for my coffee as I remembered Paul. You know the one? The one who started out as Saul? He never had a son. He never had a daughter either, but I think there was something in Paul's heart that longed to be a father to a son. And I truly believe that God knew that longing in Paul's heart and do you know what He did? He brought along Timothy. Timothy who was raised by his Gramma and Mama - two women who loved Jesus more than anything and wanted their little boy to know Him too. A little boy surrounded by Jesus-loving women, but I can't help but wonder if little Timothy didn't long for a Jesus-loving daddy as well.
Maybe it's not a daunting task that you've been given, Elias, but a very intentional void. First, that this void would turn your heart to your Perfect Big Brother - the One who died for you and is preparing a place for you with Him. He loves you Elias, and sometimes He uses what hurts us deeply to show us His tender love in ways that we would never understand without it.
But this longing for a brother? I think it's like Paul's longing for a son, and Timothy's longing for a daddy. I think it made their hearts more tender to the need in each other. I think it opened their eyes to the void that each man carried and they were able to recognize Christ's hand as the One who ultimately filled those empty places. And it makes me wonder, sweet son of mine who carries this want so close to the surface, I think if we kept giving this desire of yours to Jesus, you may be surprised to see how many brothers He brings into your life. So many more than I could ever give you.
Because really, with our track record, you'd probably get a few more sisters out of the deal if we left it up to your Daddy and I.
Six years ago this evening, I remember laying on the floor of our living room, realizing that I would hold you in my arms so very soon. I remember wondering what it would be like to hold a son and be a mama to a little boy. I had no idea, I had only known daughters. You came so quickly in those early morning hours but the moment you were placed against my chest, I knew we were going to do just fine.
You were named after your Papa and your Daddy, both strong men who have loved Jesus so strongly...but now there is more to your name as I pray over your days - the reminder of a little boy who longed for a daddy who loved Jesus and the amazing God who joyfully filled that desire.
Elias Timothy Tony, may you come to know Jesus as the only One who can ever take the ache you feel and fully satisfy it in Himself, but may you also come to know the joy of sweet answered prayer as He grows your family beyond us and opens your eyes to the breadth of His family and HIs Blood that connects us all. I can't wait to see your eyes light up as you realize.
You turn 6 in the early morning hours while we are all still under sheets and the sun is just beginning to light the horizon. A Birthday Breakfast Cake will be waiting for you on the table and a car or two waiting to be unwrapped. And my heart will ache and grow just as little bit more as your small years fade and your bigger years come near, but I will take delight in the son I was given and pray for so much joy to cover your days as you uncover more of Jesus in the dark and light of the seasons ahead.
I love you so, so very much.