We went out on a boat ride yesterday evening. We were having a wonderful time with our family. My mother and father and sister in-law had come to spend the weekend with us. Dad was fishing off the back of the boat. Hubby was steering him near the typically good spots. I sat in the front of the boat with our daughters and baby boy.
We approached an old, very weathered dock. Oddly, laying at the end of the old dock was a naked Barbie doll. It was a sad and peculiar sight. There she was, naked, hair desheveled, flat on her back with face and one bent leg facing the sky. To our 3 year-old daughter, it was down right disturbing.
“Mama, their baby naked, mama. They left their baby mama. Their baby mama. I take her. I take her mama. I take care of her.”
“We can’t take her honey. It’s not our place to take that baby doll. It’s not our property. She has to stay there.”
“She be ok mama? She be ok? She gonna fall in the lake mama.”
Our 5 year-old daughter then chimed in,
“She’ll be ok. They know where she is. They are looking for her.”
I didn’t know what to say. I did not know if she would be ok. I did not know if she would fall in the lake. I certainly wasn’t convinced anyone really knew where she was or was looking for her. But I could imagine us pulling up that boat, picking that doll up in our arms, bringing her home, dressing her and taking care of her.
We moved on. It was just a doll after all, on a dock that wasn’t ours. Still, my heart was heavy.
It got heavier still as I thought back to a post I read from Ann Voskamp earlier this week of a four year-old girl that was taken from her village. The people of the village found her “curled up and crying, deep in the jungle —- and it’s obvious.…” This four year-old girl was raped, used, abused and left out. They wrapped her up and brought her back to her mother.
There we were. One boat. One pier. One naked Barbie Doll staring up into the Mississippi sky. One little girl and her mother struggling to make sense of a world where Barbie dolls and little girls are left naked to stare up at the heavens and cry out the silent resounding question of “Why?”
How does one make sense of it? Did I even want to ponder it? It was Mother’s Day after all. Who wants to think on these things on Mother’s Day? I didn’t. But I couldn’t shake it either.
I stared at that doll for sometime only to realize that I can’t. I can’t answer the whys. All I can do is simply trust and thank God.
Yes, I felt the urge to begin thanking Him. To start looking harder for those things that were good and worthy of praise.
Thank God I am here on a boat with my family. Our children and our daughters are safe and well.
Thank God for the people in that village who refused to stop searching, found that abused girl, wrapped her up with love and brought her home. I pray for God to heal that little girl’s heart and mind. That she would grow to be a strong and mighty woman who joins forces to turn the tide, that a generation of strong daughters would rise up led by strong mothers and fathers, men and women who understand the worth of a child.
Our boat and my mind kept moving, the doll that was left out on the dock was still in my view. I began thinking of a different post written by my friend Caroline Bailey. Caroline shared some recent thoughts towards her adopted son’s birth mother and they were beautiful, beautiful thoughts. I thought about that birth mother, who made the choice to carry a baby, birth a baby and leave a baby naked, knowing full well that baby would have to be placed in the arms of another who would clothe him and care for him and provide for him in a way she knew she wasn’t able to provide. I thought of Caroline and her husband picking up that baby boy and bringing him home to love him as their own. Two mothers… Both essential to the life of a child.
Thank God for the mother who loved enough to carry her child, birth her child and give away her child. Thank God for those women who left their babies seemingly abandoned. Thank God for them, because those women had a faith, or perhaps just a hope, a small but unshakeable sense that their child was known, their child was sought after and their child would be found, would live, would love and be loved. Their child had a life that was worth living.
Thank God for the mothers and fathers who have fostered and adopted and essentially picked up the children that were in need of being picked up, the mistreated and abandoned. Thank God for the women who have been deemed infertile and yet still boldly step into the role of mothering and nurturing children. God bless these parents with the strength and grace needed to continue to pick up the children in their care through every stage of their lives.
And who else? Thank God for the everyday mothers… You know the ones whose stories don’t make the newsfeed. The ones who made their own breakfast on Mother’s Day and made their children’s breakfast as well. The mothers whose gifts yesterday were giggles, a smile behind a pacifier, dirty laundry, tantrums and poop smeared down chubby legs. God Bless those mothers who are healthy and blessed, but tired nonetheless. God strengthen them.
Thank God for the mothers who received no cards or flowers or phone calls, but still refuse to give up on their grown children. They will still call. They will still send gifts for the grandkids. They will still love fully and keep their hearts fully open, always with the hope that one day that child will toddle back to me with open arms. God bless those mothers.
Thank God for the grandmothers and aunts, sisters and friends, the teachers and leaders, the nursery and daycare workers who continue to care and continue to give. They relentlessly reach out and pick up kids that are not their own. These are the ones clothing children and feeding children, guiding children, and daily reaching out to help with the hopes of preventing children they love from falling into bad decisions and murky waters.
Thank God for them.
Our ride came to an end, but come evening I still was thinking about those who were left out on Mother’s Day. I wrote most of what you are reading now, and laid my head to rest convinced that there are things in this world I don’t understand. Actions and injustices that seem to scream, “There is no God nor good here.” Yet those actions, those things that disturb our spirit can wake us up and force us to look for the good and inspire us to be the good. A doll left out on a dock caused me to look long and look hard and realize that everywhere, EVERYWHERE there is good. There is God.
All over the world there are people whose actions and lives are joining together to make a sound like a breaking wave. It is when you start to really look that you start to really hear, the harmonious rising of one little whisper multiplied thousands of times over. It silences out the doubt, washes out the wounds, and heals the broken hearted with the unified sound of, “Yes, God is here. His people are here. His love is here. He sees. He searches. He finds. He leads. He is bringing his children home.”
If you are reading this because you are a mother or a mother’s child who felt “left out” yesterday, I want to encourage you to keep shining.
Through all the whys keep thanking God and singing songs of praise for all that is good. Yes, there is good. Look hard, very hard, you will find it.
May you see, you are not “left out.” You are not forgotten. You are seen. You are known. You are sought after. You are loved and greatly treasured. Even greater than a mother’s love for her child, is God’s love for you.
I thank God for you.
I pray he strengthens you for the great work of love he has for your life.
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”
– Isaiah 49:15
Ann Voskamp: http://www.aholyexperience.com