When I was in 4th grade I saw God. Well, at least that is what I told my friends. Brenda G had invited all of the important girls over for a sleepover. And by important, I mean, all the girls in class. Sleepovers were a big deal. You see, we only saw each other during school, wearing our plaid little skirts and white knee high socks. So to see each other outside of the Catholic confines was a big deal. Who knew what we even looked like not wearing a sweater vest? The possibilities were endless. Also sleepovers for me meant processed food, unless it was Janna’s house, that is a whole other story. Janna was paleo before it was cool. So here we were, eating all the processed food and calling into the radio stations to request the latest WHAM song, laying in our Care Bear sleeping bags not a care in the world.
And then I saw God.
Somehow we were talking about the virgin Mary, because all good little Catholic girls do. We also talked about boys and rollerskating, but the virgin Mary always got a good shout out. One of the girls was saying she saw Mary herself. We must have been studying the feast of our Lady Guadalupe or had way too much sugar in us. Either way,we all wanted to see celestial images on the walls of that small house in western Michigan that Friday night.
And right there, that night, after many cans of pringles were opened and many Hail Marys were said, kneeling in our nightgowns, I told my friends I could see God above the mantel.
I should have been struck down with lightning or at least choked on a cheese puff. I blatantly lied about seeing God.
But if I am honest. Since that night, I have always been aching to see him.
I wanted to see his face.
I needed to see him.
Don’t we all?
About seeing these tiny yellow birds all the time after tragedy hit our family. I still see them. People send them to me. (not real ones, although that would be cool too, just don’t seal the box).
And yet seeing goldfinches for me, isn’t about the bird. It is about God. The goldfinches were just a way that he visibly showed me how present he was and how limited I make him.
I stood on the dirt road that summer morning and saw three little birds dance before me.
God gently turned my head to the field next to me. He needed me to see the field singing with hundreds of tiny goldfinches. Saying over and over. “ You think I love you like the three…..let me show you the way I LAVISHLY love you. Let me show you just how present I am. How present I will be.”
I still have countless days I can’t see God. When the darkness of our reality covers me like a weighted blanket, making it hard to even breathe.
So because God is God, and I am not, he sends others to me.
My mother in law sees when it is hard for me to breathe. She is the quietest person I know. But the way that she loved me this winter speaks volumes into the depth of her heart and the goodness of God.
She was visiting from southern Ohio and quietly decided to show me God again.
She had been collecting small goldfinch figurines. One afternoon, while I was away, she placed them in different eye level places around my house. Little tiny delicate gold birds reminding me on the darkest days. On the days I was so angry with the injustice of the world. Those days when resentment had creeped its way into my heart. The nights when anxiety has kept my mind spinning and I am scared to get out of bed. The moments I am so angry I can hardly exhale and the moments I am so sad that even inhaling is exhausting.
For those moments and every moment in between she brought me tiny little bird reminders.
That even when I stop seeing God. He doesn’t ever stop seeing me.
But I make my world too loud to see anything but myself.
When all he is asking me to do is lift my eyes and see him.
I can hardly catch my breathe when I think of that moment. The moment I will actually SEE HIS FACE.
This is his promise. His PROMISE. I cling to this. This hope. This coming home.
“And I in righteousness, I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness” Psalm 17:15
Even now, just typing it, tears fill my eyes. Some days I beg for that moment. I tell God I am ready. Anytime he is ready, I am too. And then other days, most days, I am content living here on the earth not even searching for him. Not even thinking about him. I am comfortable being consumed by the world.
Living a numb life.
Yet if I am honest, it is when I am fully living in the “in between” that I am alive. The place between pain and healing. Actively aching to see him. When I am fully aware of the suffering and fully aware who can heal it all. It is in those moments that I feel fully present. That pull between heaven and earth that makes me feel hopeful. Hope-filled like the little girl kneeling in her nightgown aching to just see his face.