‘Mom, I sometimes feel as if other people have a better life than me.’
He says it into my hair from his pillow in the dark. It’s bedtime when whisperings of hurts and happiness from a day lived loud come tumbling matter-of-fact as he burrows snug or kicks carefree at the curtains.
It’s been a squeezed-tight Saturday sandwiched frenetically between cricket matches and birthday parties and he has held it all together – gung-ho – because it is what it is. But now he’s safe and it all hangs out.
I keep my voice even. Speak slow and calm. About how fantastical he is at doing certain things that other people are un-fantastical at doing – which compensates, doesn’t it? For the times when his world feels un-fantastical because the fun blurs past him too fast, too far. But I change my tack. He knows all that and tonight all that is not the point.
So I say something more like this – that the lie of the world is that we’re missing out and that everyone else has a better life. That even as a grownup I feel like that just about every day. But how I remind myself that God made us just so and placed us just here and set us on just this journey and loves us just unimaginably. And that these are our stories to tell – not the stories of another life that looks better or richer or fuller or more successful or more influential or more fun.
And I tell him: We don’t need to be brave enough for the rest of our lives. We just need to be brave enough for the next decision. (Click to tweet that.)
I want him to understand that not seeing the coach or the cricket ball doesn’t make for a mediocre life. I want him to understand that the better life – the brave, obedient, next-right-thing life – is the wonder of arriving to play. And giggling in socks past his knees and jabbering happy to his dad behind the wickets and swiping wild and serendipitous and connecting bat to ball in occasional cosmic non-coincidences. The better life is being part of a community who shout ‘Run Cam!’ when it’s time to run and ‘Stop Cam!’ when he sprints right past the opposite wicket and into an adjacent game.
I want him to know that the busy life – cricket balls and jumping castles – that stuff will come and go. But the full life – the spilling-over life that Jesus brings (John 10:10) – is the lasting life that leans hard into truth, because the truth will set you free.
Now that’s a better life.
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