Most of my childhood, I was raised by a working, single mother who usually couldn’t make it to daytime school events. Every once in a while though, she would slip away from work and come to school for something special. It meant the world to me when she was able to do that.
One of those times was in fifth grade when my school hosted a parent-child lunch. My mom told me she would come, and I told her to be there at noon. The next day at school, I waited impatiently for the lunch bell to ring so I could see her – it never occurred to me that she might not show up.
As my class walked down the hallway to the school lobby, I looked for my mom in the crowd of parents, but I didn’t see her. I told my teacher, and we waited for a couple of minutes, but finally, I had to get in line for my food.
I got my lunch and sat across from my friend Kristi and her mom, Phyllis, whom I knew. Although I was normally very talkative, that day, I just stared at my mauve-colored tray and tried to ignore the lump in my throat.
“I’m sure she’s on her way,” said Phyllis.
The lump got harder, and I didn’t say anything.
Phyllis tried again.
“I’ll tell you what – I can be your mom today,” she said.
“I don’t want you to be my mom,” I said, taking an entire half of a canned peach, shoving it into my mouth, and swallowing it whole, hoping it would make the lump in my throat go away.
Thirty minutes later, I sat in class feeling dejected and confused. I knew my mom, and I knew there had to be some explanation. She simply wasn’t the kind who would forget to come, but she hadn’t even called the school to explain.
At noon, someone knocked at the door, the handle turned, and my mom peeked into the classroom.
“There she is!” said Mrs. Lewis.
Without asking permission, I got out of my desk, ran to the front of the room, threw my arms around her, buried my face in her arms, and started crying. The other kids clapped for me.
I had told my mom the wrong time – she had come at noon, as I told her, but our lunchtime was at 11:00.
We went down the hall to the empty lunchroom where she and I ate together. I don’t know what we talked about – or if we talked at all – but I was content. I felt safe, thankful, and relieved to simply be with her.
Seven years ago, I felt some of those feelings of abandonment again – except this time, it was Jesus who hadn’t shown up.
My life was going to hell in a handbasket; almost everything that could fall apart was falling apart; and in the midst of all of it, Jesus seemed conspicuously absent. In the hour I needed Him most, I felt like He had left me hanging.
Fortunately, I had some close friends who kept assuring me that Jesus would come through for me, and He did. It wasn’t in the way I expected, in the timing I wanted, or with the answers I thought I needed – but He met me there.
In the chaos, in the brokenness, in temptation, in disappointment, He walked alongside me quietly – depriving me of all the feelings I thought I needed to experience His presence. And in that mess, we sat down together, and I began to learn what it meant to be content with Him.