It was a typical night for you. Unable to get comfortable in the bed, you sprawled out on the floor with your knee thrown across the stool. It was the only relief you could get from your back pain. The rest of us were snuggled underneath our covers and well into dreamland when your call of distress woke us.
I thought I was dreaming. You could not have possibly yelled out the word I thought you said.
Momma, on the other hand, thought you were dreaming. I sat up in bed and listened to your conversation. She questioned you, again and again, unwilling to believe you saw a snake crawl by you. But you were insistent that you had.
It didn’t take her long to find out you were not dreaming. After searching for the slithery thing, she was the one who found the little creepy crawly curled up underneath the drapery panel. I never knew my Mom could jump that high and that fast. Onto the couch, she pounced.
I laugh today, wondering how we did not scare that poor old snake to death. By the time you finished pounding him into the floor, there was nothing left of his head. How you did not break through the floorboard is still a mystery to me. The other mystery is how that six-foot snake that you saw shrank to barely three foot long.
The excitement of the night made sleep an afterthought. As the sun rose the next morning, we loaded up Old Blue and headed out in search for breakfast. With the ordeal we had gone through, you said we needed a special treat. I think you wanted to get out of the house for a while. The only thing you were less fond of than an unknown dog was a snake of any kind.
Years later, while driving you to yet another doctor’s appointment, you conveyed your fear for me.
“All your life, you have taken people at face value. You have the most trusting and loving soul of anyone I know. But, Baby, there are a lot of snakes out there, and you have been bitten a time or two. I am afraid as you grow older, your tender heart is going to harden. Promise me, you won’t let the snakes poison you.”
You paused, waiting for me to reply, but I kept my eyes forward, letting your words sink in.
“I don’t want you to ever stop loving people. But you must cut yourself some slack. You are not responsible for the actions of others. You can’t fix every problem. You cannot save them all. Do the best you can to help your fellow man, but in the end, remember the only person you must answer for is you. Be the best you, you can be, and let God handle the rest.”
Many snakes have crawled into my life since we had that talk. Some have slithered away, while some have latched on. I have been knocked down a time or two. Still, I haven’t hardened as you feared; I have become wiser. I continue to struggle sometimes with wanting the approval and acceptance of others, but I am learning with each passing day, that it is okay if I am not. Not everyone is going to like me, and I am thankful--I don’t belong with everyone.
The reality that I cannot fix nor save anyone is finally settling in. All I can do is be the best friend I can be. As you taught me, sometimes the best thing you can do is be a safety zone—the place where one can share without fear of condemnation or judgment. We all need those places.
I have also come to grips with the fact that I am not enough. I was never meant to be. I am not a hero nor a savior. I am just me. And that is okay, too. The One who created me, flaws and all, loves me and deems me worth dying for. In Him, I find my identity, my worth, and my potential. No one can take that joy from me. In Him, I am free to be “me”—even the messy me.
The day is approaching fast now when I shall hear the words, “Well done, Daughter” from the Heavenly Father. I hope that you are standing nearby. I want your neck to be the next one I hug, and I pray you will whisper those same words.
“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
(Romans 8:37-39, NASB)