After I prayed that prayer asking for God to change my heart, I didn't know what was going to happen. As pastor and author Mark Batterson has noted, once you pray and involved God in your situation the fun begins because you never know how, exactly, your prayer will be answered. I have previously written about one of the first impactful conversations I had after this prayer - it was the woman in the hallway. But now that you know the context, the event takes on a different significance.
My oldest, Caroline, was about 2. She and I were waiting outside a large conference room for a group meeting to finish so I could retrieve some materials that I had left behind earlier in the day. I leaned against the wall and watched as Caroline ran up and down the wide carpeted hallway laughing and jumping and making up games to play with the carpet designs.
I noticed another woman who, like me, was leaning against the wall on the opposite side of the hallway.
“She sure is having fun,” she said with a smile.
“Yeah, she entertains herself pretty good,” I replied.
“I remember those days. How old is she?”
“She’s two,” I answered.
“Wow. My kids are 13 and 15 now,” she offered.
“13 and 15?” I replied naively, “I look forward to when she is 13 or 15. No more diapers or naps, no messes to clean, and they’ll eat what you fix them.”
The lady began to understandingly laugh and said, “Yes, that’s all true, those things do go away.”
And then her gaze moved from Caroline to me, and her laugh was replaced with a knowing and wise smile, and she said, “but every age has its own challenges.”
And that was the end of our conversation. Her door opened and she slipped inside to do whatever she needed to do.
I don't know who she was and I wouldn't recognize her today if I saw her. But the lesson she imparted was hard to miss… time goes by quickly and each age, each stage, is special and important and, one day, all you have are memories so enjoy it. I walked home with Caroline thinking of that woman's comments.
"Maybe I am supposed to be enjoying this," I remember thinking. I also remember mulling over the truths of her comments for the next several weeks: time is moving by and she is growing, and once she leaves a particular stage she does leave it behind forever.
Then I remember thinking and asking myself about those things that people keep, the 'keepsakes' as we know them: the baby booties, the last pacifier, that special onesie, a lock of hair from the first haircut. Why do we keep these things? It's almost as if on an intuitive level we want to hold on to those early memories and moments. We know we should. We know they're special. I knew I needed to see them as special but I was having trouble grasping why I needed to see them that way. That all changed for me when I visited my parents. That story next week.