Happiness.

So, I mentioned that my cousin who lives in Brooklyn is expecting a baby at any time. We were very close when we were little – our moms are sisters, and we both lived in Greensboro, so we spent a fair amount of time together. He was the closest thing to a big brother I had, and I basically worshiped the ground he walked on. I am going to be an excellent aunt. (I know that is not technically the title I will have, but we have all agreed that it’s what I am going to be.) I already took baby Henry a copy of The Hobbit, because the first time I ever heard the story was from his dad. (Have I mentioned that his wife wrote a book and you can preorder it from Amazon? It’s a young adult book about horses. This is how we see if Sarah Cozart is reading.)

For Christmas, his mom gave me this picture, with a note that he drew it around 1981.

happinesscousin.JPG

My relationship with him (and my veritable cornucopia of other cousins) has meant that I have brought a lot of expectations to the table when we think about having our own children. Mike’s sister’s children are already 10, 7, and 1, and we haven’t even gotten started, and that makes me a little bit sad. I keep pressuring my brother to start having children, but that’s partly to take the pressure off me. (I should mention that Mike’s 10-year-old niece point-blank asked me at Christmas, “Are you ever going to have kids?” I wondered if her mom put her up to it. heh.)

A couple of weeks ago, Emily and I had coffee and talked (among other things) about relationships and expectations and letting those expectations go. I wanted a better relationship with my in-laws. I wanted my dad to be around to play with his grandchildren. And tied in with both of those things is the desire for my future children to be surrounded by family. During church that Sunday, something the pastor said reminded me a bit of Anne Lamott, whose conversion prayer ended up basically signifying that she was going to stop fighting: “You can come in.” I realized that I have prayed that resigned prayer over and over in my life. You can come in, God, and help me deal with the grief over losing my dad. You can come in and show me how to handle these lost expectations. Even though I’ve been keeping you at bay, even though I’m afraid of who you might be, you can come in and show me who you really are. For me, this prayer is the most tangible way I can think of explaining what working out my salvation means like: Letting God in, bit by bit, I learn about the ways that I need him, the ways I have been keeping him out.

I hope for a safe arrival for baby Henry, and I hope that he will one day know the happiness that is playing with his cousins. And I hope that I will be able to embrace whatever happiness comes our way, whoever it is that loves us, no matter what their exact titles are. And as much as I want to be able to focus on joy without focusing on regret or what might have been, I will need God to come in and show me how that might be done.

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